The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 13, 2013

Ihm surges to first-round lead at Sunnehanna Amateur

Shawn Curtis
scurtis@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — A four-hour delay and soggy conditions resulting from hard rain early Thursday morning slowed most of the 83-man field at the 60th Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament for Champions.

University of Iowa product Steven Ihm was having none of that.

His opening-round 66 gave him the early lead in the 72-hole tournament at Sunnehanna Country Club.

That round was good enough to put him three strokes ahead of Cameron Nelson and Cory Whitsett, who share second place. Twelve golfers shot even-par 70s to create a logjam at fourth.

It was the flatstick that allowed Ihm to separate himself.

“I had a lot of good two-putt saves,” Ihm said. “The greens out here are so big that you have some longer putts and you’re going to be forced to make some of those 5- or 6-footers for par. I rolled them all in today. It was awesome.”

Because of the delay, nine golfers were still playing when darkness stopped play at 8:50 p.m.

Thundershowers jeopardized the start of the tournament, pushing back the scheduled 8 a.m. tee time to noon.

As drizzling rain and blustery winds accompanied most rounds once play began, the weather never created issues worthy of stopping play.

Then again, that kind of weather isn’t going to startle the first-team all-Big Ten selection.

“The course was pretty soft for the most part,” Ihm said. “I planned on having it be soft (Thursday). The wind actually kind of works in my favor. I’m kind of used to it playing out in Iowa. We play in less-than-perfect weather in the spring with the Big Ten schedule.”  

The conditions forced players to alter their strategies on the par-70 course, even those familiar with it.

“The weather and the rain that we got changed it a bit,” Sunnehanna club champion Joe Cavalier said. “Because the greens are receptive for sure and they’re not as quick, but the rough is never like this for the members. The rough is always thick, but this is thick and high, so it’s hard to get a club on it.”

Cavalier, of Ebensburg, fired an 80 in his tournament debut.

The course was also unkind to defending tournament champion Bobby Wyatt, who shot a 79.

He double-bogeyed Nos. 2, 8 and 11 during the round, washing out three early birdies to open the day.

“I was trying (to make adjustments), unfortunately I didn’t make any,” Wyatt said. “I didn’t play well at all. I didn’t do anything the way I wanted to. Just poor execution all around on my part.”

Richland High School graduate Brady Moran also tallied a 79 on the tournament’s first day. A pair of double bogeys sent his Thursday total north.

“Obviously, I could have been better out there,” Moran said. “I’m disappointed in a way. I was hoping to come in around 72. That would have been a good day. (Today) I’ll have to hit more fairways and focus on my short putts.”

The nine golfers who did not finish on Thursday will resume their rounds at 10 a.m. at Nos. 14, 15 and 16.

The second round tees off at 8 a.m. with the same pairings as Thursday.