NAPERVILLE, Ill. (June 21, 2022) – Phillip Dunham had his swing working from his opening shot at the 104th Western Junior Championship.
Starting his Tuesday morning on the 228-yard par-3 10th at Naperville Country Club, Dunham’s tee shot landed softly and rolled up to the hole before deflecting lightly off the pin and settling to tap-in range.
“It kind of hit the pin at perfect pace, but kind of shot off to the right,” said the 14-year-old from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. “But can’t be mad with a birdie on your first hole.”
That set the tone for Dunham’s day. He reached 4-under after four holes and birdied five of eight around the turn before carding two late bogeys to finish at 6-under 66. He’s tied with Eduardo Derbez Torres, of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, with 18 holes remaining until the field is cut to the low 44 and ties on Wednesday.
The 16-year-old Derbez Torres was equally impressive, making seven birdies against a lone bogey. Naperville Country Club is playing over 6,700 yards this week, but Derbez Torres attacked the shorter par 4s, dialing in his wedges.
“There are a lot of [50-yard approaches] into the par 4s,” he said. “I could really put them in close and make birdie.”
Dunham took a similar approach, giving himself plenty of makeable birdie opportunities.
“If your putter’s working, you’ll score pretty well out here,” he said.
The field remains bunched, with 35 players breaking par on a hot, windy day.
Tied for third at 5-under are Carter Loflin, of Duluth, Georgia; Garrett Endicott, of San Antonio, Texas; and Jackson Byrd, of Saint Simons Island, Georgia. Endicott led the 2021 Western Junior at Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest, Illinois, after one round, eventually finishing tied for 16th.
Byrd had his father – five-time PGA TOUR winner Jonathan Byrd – on the bag Tuesday. The younger Byrd reached 7-under before he made a double bogey on the par-5 8th, his 17th hole of the day.
Sitting at 4-under are Samir Davidov, of Uzbekistan; Jack Schoenberger, of Atlanta, Georgia; Maxmilian Jelinek, of the Czech Republic; and Drew Miller of East Lansing, Michigan. Nine players are tied for 10th at 3-under.
After Wednesday’s 18 holes, the field will be cut to the low 44 and ties. The final 36 holes will be played Thursday. The winner will join Collin Morikawa, Rickie Fowler and Jim Furyk as a Western Junior champion. The top three finishers and ties receive exemptions into the Western Amateur at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Illinois, in early August.
Attendance and parking at the Western Junior are free. For more information, visit www.thewesternjunior.com.
For the full leaderboard, click here.
For tee times, click here.