Jake McLeod leads a strong Aussie contingent after the first round of the Western Amateur in Illinois.
McLeod fired five birdies and two mid-round bogeys en route to a three-under-par 69 at Rich Harvest Farms, west of Chicago, to trail joint leaders Dawson Armstrong and Jose Mendez by just two strokes.
The Queenslander, fresh from the Golf Australia national camp in Texas, is tied sixth in a week in which the format means it’s important to be near the top.
West Australian Curtis Luck is tied eighth after at two under after a mercurial round featuring five birdies and an eagle, but marred by three bogeys and a double.
Queenslander Cory Crawford was also adventurous in a round of 71 that leaves him T18. The national squad member made five birdies, but also threw in a costly double-bogey on the 16th.
He’s joined on that score by Victorian Ryan Ruffels who uncharacteristically made five bogeys in his opening round, but offset that with an eagle three on the last hole and four birdies.
Victorian Ben Eccles and New South Welshman Harrison Endycott are also handy, both with even-par 72s that left them T36.
Victorian Lucas Herbert made a double-bogey on the first hole, but fought back to fire a one-over 73 that left him T52.
But it wasn’t all great news for the Aussie contingent with Sydneysider Cam Davis unable to find his normal rhythm and Perth’s Jarryd Felton enduring a quadruple-bogey eight as both signed for 76s that leaves them in trouble at T96.
Queenslander Taylor Macdonald suffered through two triple-bogeys on his back nine en route to a 77, but New South Welshman Travis Smyth had the day’s hard-luck story with a sextuple-bogey 10 on the par-four 17th as part of his otherwise fine 78.
The Western Amateur is played from Tuesday-Saturday in the United States with two 18-hole strokeplay rounds before a cut to 44 and ties.
There is then 36 holes of strokeplay on Thursday, with the low 16 advancing to matchplay.
On Friday, two 18-hole matches narrow the field to four semi-finalists before two more matches on Saturday to determine the champion.