Date: July 18, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussie trio handy at US Junior

All three Australians in the US Junior Amateur Championship are well placed after the first of two rounds of stroke play.

Defending champion Min Woo Lee, trying to become the first player to successfully defend this title since Tiger Woods won three straight years from 1991-1993, is among a swag of players at Flint Hills National Golf Club in Kansas to sign for a two-under-par 69.

Alongside the West Australian is Canberran Josh Armstrong, the pair tied 10th with the top 64 after tomorrow's second round to advance to the first of six rounds of match play.

Also handy is Victorian Cameron John, who's tied 30th after an even-par opening 71.

Young Floridian Brandon Mancheno set a course record with a blistering 63 to take a two-stroke lead.

Mancheno also established the second-lowest score in US Junior Amateur stroke play, one behind Gavin Hall’s 62 in 2010 at Egypt Valley Country Club.

“I was not trying to shoot that (score), I was just trying to shoot even par and be happy with that, but I got off to a pretty good start,” said Mancheno, who jump-started his round when he eagled the par-5 fifth by sinking a 77m lob wedge.

Mancheno, the 2015 US Junior Amateur medalist, followed with birdies on three of the next four holes, then after his lone bogey to start the inward nine, he regrouped with four more birdies, including a 2m putt on the par-5 18th to set the course mark.

Lee, 18, a member at Royal Fremantle, made his own spectacular eagle, but couldn't find the same flow as Mancheno elsewhere on the testing course.

He drilled a 36m eagle on the 11th with a superb 60-degree wedge, but soon made double-bogey on No.15 to hand back the edge.

“Off the tee, you just have to hit the fairway,” Lee said.

“It’s such a big difference from being on the fairway and being in the rough. You get some lies that are deadly and you can’t get onto the green.”