Western Open attracts top amateurs


ROLAND — Teammates for NCAA champion Alabama, the top two ranked amateur golfers in the country, have committed to play in the 111th Western Amateur July 29-Aug. 4 at The Alotian Club.

No. 1 Bobby Wyatt and No. 2 Justin Thomas are among 13 of the world’s top 20 amateurs who have signed up to play in the Western, one of the most prestigious amateur tournaments in the world. Ninth-ranked Cory Whitsett, 2008 Western Junior champion and another member of Alabama’s team, is also in the field.

Also on board are at least five of the amateurs competing in the U.S. Open this week at Merion near Philadelphia. That group includes Cal teammates, No. 8 Max Homa, No. 11 Michael Kim, and No. 24 Michael Weaver. Steven Fox, the U.S, Amateur champion in 2012, is committed, along with 18-year-old Gavin Hall, youngest player in the Open field.

In addition to attracting international players, the 2013 championship will have at least five Arkansans in the field. Those are former Western Amateur champion Patrick Lee (1995) of Centerton; Austin Cook and Joe Doramus, both members of the Arkansas Razorbacks golf team, and Little Rock’s Alex Carpenter, a golf team member at Abilene Christian in Texas, who will compete in this year’s prestigious Palmer Cup. Former Arkansas Razorback Ethan Tracy won the 2011 Western Amateur and since has turned professional.

The entry deadline is June 21.

“The Western Golf Association is very pleased with the way this year’s Western Amateur field is shaping up,” said Vince Pellegrino, vice president of tournaments for the WGA. “The players are very excited to be coming to The Alotian Club, because they have heard so much about it. Year in and year out the Western Amateur has one of the top two or three fields in the world, and this year is proving to be no different.”

“The people who come to The Alotian Club this summer to attend the 111th Western Amateur will be impressed by the level of competition,” said Warren Stephens, who invited the WGA to bring the Western to the club he founded.

This will the first time since 1966 the Western has been played in the South and the first time The Alotian Club has hosted a major competition.

“We at the Western Golf Association are looking forward to seeing how the best amateurs in the world fare against a golf course that, shortly after it opened in 2005, Golf Digest installed among the top-tier courses in the nation,” Pellegrino said.

Ranked No. 14 on Golf Digest’s biennial ranking of “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses,” The Alotian also was named best new private course in the country in 2005.

Last year, the Western’s 156-man field included players from 34 states and 11 countries.

The format is demanding, including 18 holes on Tuesday, July 30, and another 18 the following day. At that point, the field is cut to the low 44 and ties. Those who make the cut will play 18 holes on both Thursday and Friday with the top 16 advancing to the match play competition that begins on Saturday. The semifinals and finals are on Sunday.

Tickets for the entire event are transferable and are available at http://www.thewesternamateur.com.