Vilips leads West Aussie charge

16th Jul 2019

The powerhouse that is West Australian golf was evident to all as the US Boys’ Amateur began today in Ohio.

Florida-based Perth ace Karl Vilips shares the lead after the first of two days’ qualifying at historic Inverness Club in Toledo.

And just one stroke behind Vilips and Californian William Mouw in a seven-way share of third is Connor McKinney who, while representing Scotland, is based in Mandurah, south of Perth.

Also currently in the top 64 who will advance to match play at the end of day two is Josh Greer, whose three-over-par 74 left him in a share of 41st place.

Also, more than handy is recently crowned Australian Junior champion Elvis Smylie who continues to impress in a tie for 10th after an even-par 71.

Sadly his fellow Gold Coaster Terry Yoon (80) and Melbourne’s Tony Chen (77) have mountains to climb tomorrow to reach the match-play phase.

Vilips, 17, was the only player in the 156-strong field who played without a bogey today, highlighting his improving tournament maturity.

You have to put it in the fairway off the tee,” noted Vilips, No.47 in the world amateur rankings and who reached the Round of 32 in this event at Baltusrol last year.

“Every fairway bunker I found, I was up against the lip. (But) I took my medicine on those holes and trusted my wedge game.

“Overall, I hit it well from tee to green and putted well.”

Inverness Club, designed by Donald Ross, has hosted four US Open championships and is the host as one player, in particular, chases his own history this week.

Reigning champion Michael Thorbjornsen, of Massachusetts, carded a 71 today to sit alongside Smylie as he seeks to join three-time champion Tiger Woods (1991-93) as the only player to successfully defend this revered title.

All 156 competitors have received letters of congratulations and encouragement from American legends Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Woods who told the young field he had “been pretty fortunate in this event” and reminded players to enjoy the experience.

The first round was suspended twice for severe weather for a total of one hour and 49 minutes.