Talented field prepared for grueling test
Patrick Rodgers, an Indianapolis native who made the round of 16 last year, says Donald Ross courses are thinking man’s courses. | Getty Images
110th Western Amateur
Where: Exmoor Country Club, Highland Park.
When: Tuesday through Saturday.
Format: Stroke play Tuesday through Thursday to cut field to 16 players. Match play on Friday and Saturday, 36 holes each day for those who advance.
Admission: Free. No ropes. Gallery allowed to roam at Exmoor, redesigned by Donald Ross in 1914.
Updated: July 30, 2012 8:06PM
The 110th Western Amateur, which will be played at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park this week, figures to have a Back to the Future element.
The nation’s second-oldest amateur tournament will be played on a course that first opened in 1896 and was redesigned by Donald Ross in 1914.
But a tradition-rich tournament on a historic golf course will be populated by some solid candidates for the next generation of touring pros.
The Western Amateur, which Tiger Woods once called “the Masters of amateur golf,” annually attracts a field that’s second only to the U.S. Amateur, and this year’s event follows that pattern.
Six of the world’s top 10 amateurs will be in the field: top-ranked Bobby Wyatt, a junior at Alabama; No. 3 Patrick Rodgers, a Stanford sophomore; No. 5 Chris Williams, a Washington senior; No. 6 Justin Thomas, an Alabama sophomore; No. 8 Corey Whitsett, an Alabama junior, and No. 10 Matt Stieger from Australia. An international field of 156 players is expected from 34 states and 11 countries.
The winner will join Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange and Justin Leonard, who all won the Western Am on their way up the golf leaderboard.
To get there, the winner will have to survive 72 holes of stroke play in three days, including 36 holes Thursday, followed by four 18-hole matches during the Friday and Saturday match-play segment.
“I like that it’s such a grueling test of golf,” said Rodgers, an Indianapolis native who made the round of 16 last year. “The eventual winner has to play well for an entire week. There’s really two different golf tournaments.”
To lure spectators, Exmoor and the Western Golf Association are not charging admission and are allowing spectators a no-ropes environment around a golf course that’s generally tree-lined but also has open spaces and fescue.
In other words, the Western Amateur shapes up as a pretty good place to check out golf’s top amateurs.
“The course that I grew up on in Indianapolis isn’t a Donald Ross course, but it’s very similar in style,” Rodgers said. “Tree-lined. Difficult greens. A Donald Ross course really makes you think around the golf course. It not only tests all areas of your game, but it tests you mentally as well. There’s often multiple ways to play the hole. You have to be really sharp mentally. That’s something I enjoy.”