Sondjaja seizes lead at 2017 Western Amateur


GLENCOE, ILLINOIS (Aug. 2, 2017
) -- Ruben Sondjaja, of Sydney, Australia, hasn’t played perfect golf at Skokie Country Club in Glencoe, but he’s been pretty close.

A 2017 Iowa State graduate, Sondjaja shot a bogey-free, 7-under 64 in Wednesday’s second round and leads the 115th Western Amateur. He’s the only player in the field without a bogey.

“I’m hitting those percentage shots and not trying to force anything too much,” Sondjaja said. “This golf course is tough. If you sleep on it, it can bite you pretty quick. I just did a great job of keeping the ball in front of me and playing smart golf.”

Sondjaja made five birdies and an eagle Wednesday. A par save on No. 18 — his ninth hole — from the behind the green kept his scorecard clean.

“My putting and chipping has been really saving me, but for the most part, I did feel like I was attacking the golf course and hunting out there,” he said. “There's a lot of golf left, and I will try to keep doing what I am doing.”

Brad Dalke, of Norman, Oklahoma, matched Sondjaja’s 64 and is one back of the lead.

Starting on the back nine, Dalke made an eagle at No. 1 and another at No. 3. He concluded his bogey-free round with a birdie at No. 9.

“I’ve been able to go low in the past in tournaments, and I’ve gotten more comfortable with it,” said Dalke, who played on Oklahoma’s national title team this year. “It’s almost scary going low, and you almost back off it a bit. But I’ve learned to keep being aggressive.”

In addition to playing good golf, Dalke got to play with former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo for two days.

“It was fun,” Dalke said. “I idolized him when I was younger. It was cool to play with him in a tournament. He’s a great guy, too.”

The round of the day belonged to John Pak, of Scotch Plains, New Jersey. A freshman at Florida State, Pak set the Skokie Country Club competitive course record with a 63 and is solo third at 10 under. He bogeyed his first hole and was 1 over through three before going on an impressive run. He was 8 under on the last 11 holes.

“I was a little nervous about the cut at the beginning of the day after making two bogeys, but I started playing my game,” Pak said. “I started hitting shots close to the hole. There is a little pressure off of my shoulders going into tomorrow."

Sondjaja wasn't the only Aussie who played well the first two days. Min Woo Lee, of Perth, is alone in fourth at 8 under and Dylan Perry, of Aberdeen, is tied for fifth at 7 under.

The 36-hole cut came at 1 under, leaving 53 players remaining in the field. One casualty was defending champion Dylan Meyer, of Evansville, Indiana, and a senior at Illinois, after rounds of 72-71 to post 1 over.

The medalist will be awarded and the Sweet 16 will be set after Thursday's final 36 holes of stroke play. The format switches to match play for Friday and Saturday.

- Matt Harness, WGA