Hutchinson — The 64-man match play bracket is set for the 100th Kansas Amateur Championship as players completed their second round of stroke-play qualifying on another scorching day at Prairie Dunes Country Club Wednesday. Wichita State golfer Hunter Sparks continued his fine play and earned medalist honors in the 156-man field with a one-under 71 in the second round. His two-day total of 138 edged former Kansas University golfer Andrew Storm by a single shot and gave the 19-year-old the top seed for match play.
“That is huge for me; I haven’t won anything since my high school days…it’s a huge momentum builder and gives me a lot of confidence going forward,” said Sparks, going into his sophomore season at WSU this fall. “I just love match play. Match play is my favorite type of event to play in. It’s a great course. Hopefully I’ll be able to win it…it would be nice.”
Sparks got off to a bit of a “rough” start on day two, pulling his approach shot into the tall stuff and making bogey on Prairie Dunes’ opening hole.
“I pulled hooked it into the tall stuff on (No.) 1…I didn’t get into it once yesterday,” Sparks recalled. “So I started off a little shaky and didn’t really know what was going to happen after that.”
But the Oklahoma City native righted the ship with a good par on the difficult par-3 second and made birdie at No. 3. He narrowly missed birdie putts at Nos. 6 and 7, before birdying the difficult eighth hole from about 12 feet. Sparks added a birdie at the par-3 10th hole and made long putts at Nos. 13 and 14.
Storm, who led after the first round of last year’s Kansas Amateur at Kansas City Country Club, had the low round of the second day at Prairie Dunes with his one-under 69. The 23-year-old, who’ll go to work at a country club in Sarasota, Fla., next month as a teaching professional ending his amateur status, backed up his opening-day 70 with a similarly solid round Wednesday.
“The two courses are similar in that you have to hit a lot of fairways and greens and that’s the strong point of my game,” said Omaha, Neb.’s Storm, playing in his third Kansas Amateur. “The (two Prairie Dunes) rounds were really similar – a lot of fairways and greens, playing really steady golf, really strategic golf trying to keep myself out of trouble and if I do make a mistake to not combine it with another one.”
Eight players finished at 155 for the two rounds and went to a playoff for the final six spots in the match play bracket. Lawrence’s Chase Chamberlin made it a playoff he’ll never forget, holing a 177-yard nine-iron on the par 3 10th hole to grab one of the match play spots. It was the first ace of Chamberlin’s career and could not have come at a better time for the Kansas State golfer.
“On the tee, (KGA Executive Director) Kim Richey says ‘Just jar it’ and I was like “Yeah, I should. It’s way easier than putting,” said Chamberlin, who teamed with KSU teammate Curtis Yonke to win the 2010 Kansas Four-Ball Championship earlier this summer. “Then I step up here and hole it.”
Others to qualify from the playoff were Scott Willman, Myles Miller, Eric Mork, Andrew O’Brate and Michael McGee.
Thirty-two first-round matches will be contested Thursday with the first beginning at 7:30 a.m. Some matches to watch in the opening round include: 32nd seed and former KGA Senior Player of the Year Don Kuehn playing golfing buddy, former Senior POY and No. 33 seed Andy Smith at 7:39 a.m.; former KGA Junior Amateur champions square off as 2009 Kansas Amateur runner-up and No. 4 Dodge Kemmer faces No. 61 Myles Miller at 8:42 a.m.; No. 7 Zac Burton taking on close Manhattan friend and No. 58 TJ Vilkanskas at 10:30 a.m.; and No. 22 Jeffrey Lee, who got into the Amateur through a playoff in the Second Chance Qualifier, playing No. 43 Kyle Smell of KSU at 12:09 p.m.
The second and third rounds are set for Friday with the quarterfinals and semifinals on Saturday. The 36-hole championship match begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.