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Elite Field Set for 110th Western Amateur


An international field of 156 top amateur golfers will gather at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Ill., July 30-August 4, to compete in the 110th playing of the Western Amateur.

Set to compete in the world's third-oldest amateur championship are former Western Junior champion Patrick Rodgers of Avon, Ind., Alabama star Bobby Wyatt of Mobile; Washington standout and 2011 Western Amateur medalist Chris Williams of Moscow, Idaho; and Alabama's Justin Thomas, this year's top college freshman who recently made the cut at the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic.

And those are just a few of the names in a long list of extremely talented entrants. "As always, the quality and depth of the Western Amateur field is beyond comparison," said Vince Pellegrino, vice president of tournaments for the Western Golf Association, which has conducted the event since 1899. "What's so impressive is how very young many of the players at the top of the rankings are these days."

Several of the players in the tournament last year, including headliners Patrick Cantlay and Peter Uihlein, have turned pro. Rodgers, playing in this week's John Deere Classic on a sponsor's invitation, was one of three finalists for the 2012 Ben Hogan Award as a freshman at Stanford, where he led his team in scoring average. He played on the 2011 Walker Cup team as an incoming college freshman and this year was a member of the U.S. Palmer Cup team. He plans to defend his Porter Cup title next week in Niagara Falls.

At 17, Wyatt shot an incredible 14-under par 57 at the Alabama Boys State Championship at the Country Club of Mobile on July 30, 2010. Earlier this summer, the Crimson Tide junior won the prestigious Sunnehanna Amateur after earning third-team PING All-American honors and being named First-Team All-SEC.

A first-team All-American at Washington, Williams recently went 3-0-1 in the Palmer Cup against Europe. He became Washington's all-time leader in wins with his victory at the Bandon Dunes Championship earlier this year.

Thomas, 19, is a native of Goshen, Ky., who won first-team All-America honors as a freshman at Alabama, received the Jack Nicklaus Award as college player of the year, the Haskins Award as the top collegiate player and the Phil Mickelson Award as freshman of the year. Thomas won the NCAA Southeast Regional, the SEC Championship, the Jones Cup Invitational, and the Puerto Rico Classic this year. He also played on the Palmer Cup team this summer.

In addition to these top American golfers, the Western Amateur will feature amateur stars from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand and others.

Matthew Stieger leads the Australian contingent, which also includes Jake Higginbottom, Cameron Smith and Daniel Nisbet. Stieger made it to the quarterfinals of the 2012 British Amateur earlier this summer and finished T-4 at the Scottish Open Amateur.

Another University of Washington player, sophomore Cheng-Tsung Pan, was a Western Amateur medalist in 2009 and '10. Last year, he made it to the semifinals at the Western. A native of Taiwan, the Husky was named second-team All-American this past year.

The Western Amateur first visited Exmoor in 1904, when H. Chandler Egan emerged victorious, and returned in 1952, when Frank Stranahan won his fourth Western Amateur title.

"Exmoor Country Club, one of our charter members, has been among the earliest and most steadfast supporters of our championships and the Evans Scholars program," Pellegrino said. "It's a classic course with a rich tournament history, and we believe it will provide a challenging test."

Exmoor also hosted the Western Junior in 1917 and 1998. Five current Evans Scholars and 52 Evans Alumni caddied at Exmoor Country Club. Also, more than 300 Exmoor members are playing a variety of roles in organizing the 2012 Western Amateur.

Admission to the Western Amateur is free. For more information and live scoring, visit www.thewesternamateur.com.