Early morning golfers didn’t escape the wrath of the Kansas wind during Tuesday’s opening round of the 6th AJGA Kansas Junior at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.
But three golfers, all from different states, managed to battle the windy conditions and warming temperatures, shooting 1-under-par 71s to share the opening day lead.
That trio of golfers included Wichitan Adam Kasitz, Chance Mulligan of Dallas and Perry Hoag of Flossmoor, Ill., a Chicago suburb.
Lurking one shot back at even-par 72 were Christian Labrador of Albertville, Minn., and Jack Glenn of Stillwater, Okla. Seven more players were in a logjam tied for sixth at 1-over 73.
On the girls side of the competition, Nao Ohbayashi of Himeji, Japan, and Gabriella Tomanka of Grapevine, Texas, shared the first day lead with even-par 72s. Camille Boyd of Shanghai, China, was one shot back at 73.
Even Garden City’s Sion Audrain, with a recent top five finish in a Colorado AJGA event and a third-place finish at the Kansas Golf Association Junior Championship, struggled in the blustery conditions.
When the first group of the day hit their drives off No. 1, the wind was breezy at about 10 mph out of the south/southwest, but by an hour later it was blowing 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.
Audrain, also the 2017 Kansas Class 6A state champion, had a tough day, shooting a 6-over-par 78 in a round that saw him unable to make a single birdie.
Playing in the first group of the day off No. 1 tee, Audrain opened with a bogey on the par-5 first and then followed with eight consecutive pars to make the turn at 1-over 37.
The back nine, though, proved to be the more difficult challenge, as Audrain bogeyed the first three holes on the incoming nine (par 4-4-3) and then also added bogeys at the par-4s 14th and 15th holes. That gave him a 41 on the back nine for his 78, one of his highest scores of the summer schedule.
Garden City’s other entrant, Jarett Richmeier, shot an 85 with nines of 45-40.
Of the trio of boys at 1-under, their route to the score was quite different. Hoag had three birdies, including a bogey-free back nine. Kasitz didn’t have a single bogey on his card while Mulligan had six birdies in a roller-coaster round.
Garden City High School junior-to-be Alyssa McMillen and Stanton County’s Rylie Cook had their share of difficulties, too, with McMillen shooting an 82, tied for 23rd, while Cook came in with an 85, solo 30th.
The dual leaders on the girls side saw Ohbayashi play a bogey free front nine and then register three birdies on the incoming nine. She’s ranked No. 31 in the AJGA Rolex rankings while Tomanka has five top-10 finishes in previous AJGA events. Both players have won tournaments — Ohbayashi at the 2017 Coca-Color Junior at Sugarloaf and Tomanka at the AJGA Junior All-Star at Calumet.
Wellington’s Hanna Hawks was the highest Kansan in the girls division with a 77 to finish tied for 11th.
Wednesday’s second round will see Audrain tee off No. 10 at 11:30 a.m. and Richmeier at 11:50 a.m. off No. 1.
McMillen and Cook, who are paired together for the first two days, will play at 9 a.m. Wednesday off No. 10 tee. The field will be cut to approximately the low 50 percent of the players in each division.
Thursday’s final round will see tee times from 7:20 to 9 a.m.