July 31, 2008
Benton Harbor, Mich. – Kyle Stanley and Philip Francis, two Western Amateur Sweet 16 veterans, surged into the 36-hole lead Thursday in the 2008 Western Amateur at Point O’Woods Golf & Country Club.
Stanley, who reached the quarterfinals in 2007, fired a 7-under-par 63, the low round of the championship, to tie Francis at 6-under-par 134 atop a list of 46 players who survived the 36-hole cut at 142. Following the final two rounds of stroke play Friday, the field will be trimmed to 16 players for Saturday’s first round of Sweet 16 match play.
Francis, who advanced to the quarterfinals in the 2005 Western Amateur at age 16, earned a share of the lead with a 6-under-par 64 Thursday.
Stanley, of Gig Harbor, Wash., and Francis, of Scottsdale, Arizona, both will carry added confidence into Friday’s 36-hole marathon quest for medalist after their two-day performances at the Point.
“There’s a lot of golf left. Being medalist would be great, but match play is where you’re going to win the tournament,” cautioned Stanley, who lost to eventual runner-up Alex Prugh in the 2007 quarterfinals. “This year I would like to make it a little farther …”
Stanley, who won the 2008 Southern Amateur and qualified for the 2008 U.S. Open – missing the 36-hole cut by just a stroke – eagled the par 5, 555-yard second hole Thursday, dropping a 20-foot putt after hitting the center of the green with a 2-iron approach.
“I hit the ball better today,” he said. “I had a lot of good putts lip out yesterday, and today they went in. And I gave myself a few more chances today.”
Francis, 19, had a shaky start this week, bogeying his way to 3-over-par through his first nine in Wednesday’s opening round. Since then, he’s carded nine birdies and no bogeys over 27 holes.
Stanley, 20, a Clemson University junior, was a 2007 NCAA first-team All-American, finishing second in the 2007 national championship. In 2006 he won the Southern Amateur and the Sahalee Players.
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