Austin Cook shoots 69 in first round of Western Amateur

ROLAND, AR (– The leaderboard after the 111th Western Amateur's first round sparkled like the blend of architectural and natural brilliance of The Alotian Club itself, which is staging its unofficial "coming-out party" this week by hosting one of the world's most prestigious amateur championships.

Three players shot 7-under par 65 Tuesday to tie for the 18-hole lead, while several of their hottest and/or most highly-ranked contemporaries were close on the heels of their soft spikes.

Taking the early lead were Georgia Tech lefty Seth Reeves, recent USC graduate Sam Smith and Stanford senior Cameron Wilson.

Within three strokes, however, were such mega-accomplished players as Justin Thomas, Patrick Rodgers, Michael Weaver and Beau Hossler – all of whom have performed well in PGA TOUR events.

The 15 players tied at 3-under highlighted the international nature of the field, with such names as Brett Drewitt of Australia, Sebastian Cappelen, of Denmark, and Zecheng Dou, of China. Players from at least 15 nations are competing this week.

A considerable group of players with Arkansas connections also competed in the opening round.  Cappelen, Lane Hulse and Austin Cook – all members of the Arkansas golf team – shot 3-under 69, with teammates Nicolas Echavarria coming in at 2-under and Joe Doramus at 1-over.  Wes McNulty was at 3-over; Joe Nichols at 4-over; Stan Payne at 7-over, and 1995 Western Amateur champion Patrick Lee at 8-over.

After Wednesday's second round, the field will be cut to the low 44 and ties. The survivors will play 18 holes on both Thursday and Friday after which the low 16 will compete in match play over the weekend.