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Len Ziehm On Golf

Western Am players — especially a Wise guy — go low at Rich Harvest

The sense of urgency arrived for the first time at the 113th playing of the Western Amateur on Wednesday, and that was evident with some of the scores posted at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove.

Most of the 156 starters were eliminated after Wednesday’s second round, as only the low 44 and ties advanced to Thursday’s 36-conclusion of the stroke play portion of the championship. Four rounds of match play follow before the champion is crowned on Saturday.

Wednesday’s play was highlighted by a course record 64 by 19-year old Aaron Wise, a sophomore to be at the University of Oregon from Lake Elsinore, Calif. Wise had to go low after shooting 76 in Tuesday’s opening round. He started the second round in a tie for 96th place and ended it in a tie for ninth.

“When you drive in the fairway you can attack these pins,’’ said Wise. “(On Tuesday) I was hacking it out of the trees and pushes. I had a lot of 60- to 100-yard shots where I needed to get up and down for par. That was the difference.’’

Wise, who was hitting the fairways with his tee shots on Wednesday, won the Pacific Coast Amateur on his school’s home course at Eugene Country Club last week. He got off to a fast start Wednesday (four-under-par after five holes) and continued his charge from there, though he did make one bogey along the way.

His 8-under-par effort was three better than the course record at the start of the day. Five players had posted that score since 2007, with Dawson Armstrong of Nashville, Tenn., and Jose Mendez of Costa Rica shooting their 67s on Tuesday.

Before Wise posted his score the course record was lowered to 66 by recently-crowned Illinois Open champion David Cooke of Lisle and Australian Harrison Endycott. Armstrong, though, also shot 66 later in the day and ended as the 36-hole leader at 11-under 133.

Taylor Funk, son of PGA and Champions Tour veteran Fred Funk, and University of Illinois golfer Charlie Danielson hit the halfway point of stroke play two shots behind Armstrong. Funk, who captured the Southern Amateur this summer, was one of five University of Texas players in the starting field at Rich Harvest.

Among the others were defending champion Beau Hossler and Doug Ghim, last year’s stroke play medalist from Arlington Heights. Neither survived the 36-hole cut. The only Chicago area survivor was Roselle’s Dan Stringfellow, a Medinah member who plays collegiately at Auburn.

“It was one of those weeks where I needed to make putts, and they wouldn’t go in,’’ said Ghim. “Now I’ve got a lot of extra time to work on my putting for my next big tournament in two weeks.’’

That would be the U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields. Wise is among the many competing at Rich Harvest who have also qualified to play at Olympia Fields.