Sydney’s Austin Bautista leads the Australian contingent through the first round of the marathon Western Amateur in Illinois.
Bautista, who began his round at the Knollwood Club in Lake Forest on the 10th tee, had it to three under after a birdie on the second hole, his 11th.
But despite two late bogeys, the New South Wales state team representative hung tough for a one-under-par 70 to sit tied 14th.
That he’s seven strokes behind new course record holder Sam Horsfield, of England, is somewhat immaterial given the nature of the event with the top 16 after four round of strokeplay advancing to a four-round match play phase in the time-honoured six-day tournament, the world’s third oldest amateur title.
Victorian Cameron John and Queensland’s Anthony Quayle are also handy at even par, good for T28, while last week’s Porter cup champ Harrisony Endycott is among those T43 at one over.
Alongside Endycott are fellow Sydneysider Troy Moses, who eagled the 10th hole today, and Melbourne’s Karl Vilips, who overcame a double-bogey and four bogeys with some otherwise dazzling play.
Perth’s Curtis Luck also had an early double and was in trouble at four over through six until he fought back well with three straight birdies around the turn before finishing at 73.
Melbourne’s Brett Coletta fired a 74, while Sydney’s Travis Smyth fired an unusually flat 75.
David Micheluzzi eagled his first hole, the tenth, but it was all downhill from there as the Victorian added seven bogeys, including four straight to close a disappointing round of 76.
Sydney duo Cameron Davis and Daniel Gale each endured a double-bogey in their rounds of 77 that left them T121 and with a mountain of work ahead.