By MATT HARNESS
SUGAR GROVE, Ill. (June 18, 2019) – Chris Fosdick, of Middlefield, Connecticut; Piercen Hunt, of Hartland, Wisconsin; and Sudarshan Yellamaraju, of Ontario, Canada, share the lead at the 102nd Western Junior after each posted 3-under 69 in the first round Tuesday at Rich Harvest Farms.
The day featured a 90-minute fog delay in the morning, and play was suspended due to darkness at 8:32 p.m.
No other players shot in the 60s and only 12 broke par on a day with negligible wind. The stroke average was 76.99.
Hunt ended his round with a birdie at the par-5 18th, his seventh birdie of the round. He made four bogeys.
“It’s nice to put up a good round and set myself up for success the rest of the tournament,” said Hunt, who missed the cut last year at Evanston Golf Club in Skokie, Illinois. “This is not an easy course, and you have to roll with the punches. I’m looking for something similar [Wednesday], but I would be very happy with something better.”
Fosdick had a rollercoaster round. After going eagle-birdie-birdie to get to 6-under par through 12, he made a triple bogey on the par-3 third.
“Maybe I was too confident,” he said. “I went more at the pin than I had been, and I hit a very bad shot straight into the water.”
But he responded by playing his final six holes even par, sinking a 6-foot putt for par on No. 9.
“In past years, it would have been hard for me to bounce back from that triple bogey,” Fosdick said. “I found myself doing that better this year.”
Yellamaraju relied on a hot putter to sit atop the leaderboard. He converted an 18-footer for eagle at the par-5 seventh and a 25-footer for birdie at the par-3 13th. His 8-foot putt for par on No. 16 helped him shoot in the 60s.
“The course is definitely tough,” Yellamaraju said. “There’s a premium on good drives, and you have to putt well on these greens. I was happy with how I played for the first round.”
Tucker Clark, of Paradise Valley, Arizona; Connor Gaunt, of Cabot, Arkansas; Bo Jin, of Encinitas, California; Sam Tidd, of Meridian, Indiana; and Luc Warnock, of Ontario, Canada, all shot 70 and are tied for fourth.