As the weather conditions improved Friday in the opening round of The Railer: The Kansas Amateur Stroke Play Championships at Sand Creek Station, scores went down dramatically.
In the morning pairings, only two players shot par or better. The afternoon featured seven at par or better.
Witchayapat Sinsrang of Thailand and Christian Ghilardi of Lenexa shared the first-round lead of the Open Division with a three-under par 69.
Gregory Goode of Salina led the senior division at 70.
Sinsring finished his sophomore year at Dodge City Community College, where he helped lead the Conquistadors to a Jayhawk Conference championship, a second-place finish in district play and an eighth-place finish at the NJCAA Division I Championships.
He was the Jayhawk Conference top medalist, winning at Sand Creek Station earlier this spring. He tied for second at the district tournament and took 15th at nationals.
Ghilardi will be a senior at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School.
“I started out pretty good and made a bunch of pars,” Ghilardi said. “I bogeyed 14. Then I got one back after the par 5. Then I bogeyed 17 with a three-putt, then I birdied 9. I birdied 2 and then made a couple of pars and birdied six and seven and parred out.
“The wind was pretty tough, especially on the back nine. After that, it died down and got pretty easy. I don’t envy anyone who played in the morning round.”
Ghilardi placed sixth in the Class 6A state tournament in the spring.
“I want to win this thing, or at least be in position,” Ghilardi said. “I’ve played five or six tournaments this summer. I just finished with the Big I qualifier yesterday. I have been pretty steady. This has been my best round this summer.”
Jeffrey Topp of Edmond, Okla., Gage Irig of Goodland and Cody Trout of Edmond, Okla., each finished one stroke back at 70. There were four players tied for sixth at 72.
“I think I played really solid and didn’t do anything spectacular,” said Troutman, a senior at Central Oklahoma. “I had good decision making. I didn’t take many risks. If I did have a bad shot, I was able to make up for it. I think I putted pretty well and that was a key.”
Troutman helped lead UCO to a Mid American Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship this year and an eighth-place finish at the NCAA Division II Central-Midwest Regionals. Troutman was third in the conference tourney. He had four top-five finishes last season.
“We had a real good team and a new coach,” Troutman said. “We all got along together very well. … We have the same five back and will try to do better.”
Troutman was tied for eighth last year.
“I did really bad in the first round and played back into it,” Troutman said. “My game plan is going to be similar to the last two years. This course gives you some opportunities. You just have to stay patient and wait for those opportunities.”
Ihrig is from Goodland and will be a senior at Wichita State.
“I hit the ball pretty straight and kept the ball in play,” Ihrig said. “I putted pretty good. I never really messed too bad. I haven’t played a lot this summer. I played in Phoenix a couple weeks ago and that was about it.”
He helped lead the Shockers to a title in the team’s final outing in the Missouri Valley Conference (the Shockers join the American Athletic Conference in the fall) and a 13th-place finish in the NCAA Regionals. Ihrig was 32nd in the conference and 66th at regionals.
“I just want to get better,” Ihrig said. “I just want to make my bad days better. The next two days, I just want to relax and enjoy it. It’s a fun tournament. I want to keep it in play, make some putts and see what happens.”
While much of the field consists of high school and college golfers, Tropp is 42 and never played college golf.
“I love playing with them,” Topp said. “I tell them not to beat up on me too much. They hit all the birdies and doubles and all kinds of stuff, and I try to be steady Eddie out there. I’ve been a Mid (Amateur) all my life.”
Topp said he had a solid round.
“I had it together,” Topp said. “I started on the back. I bogeyed 14, but then rolled in a 40-footer on 15. I birdied 18, then two and three, I bogeyed four. I hit the ball well and made some short ones.”
Topp said he plays about a half-dozen tournaments a year.
“I try to play in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas,” he said. “Anywhere from a four- to six-hour drive for a good tournament. This is a good tournament. I really like this one. If I keep hitting good shots and putts, I’ll be happy.”
In the Senior Division, Goode held a two-stroke lead over Don Kuehn of Kansas City, Mo. Eric Sexton, the former athletic director and vice president of student affairs at Wichita State, was third at 74. Chris Wallace of Wichita and Steve Newman of Wichita were tied for fourth at 75. Newman won the senior title in 2012 and 2013.
Three Newton players were in the Open Division. Brothers Tanner Pauls and Lane Pauls were tied for 58th at 81. Travis Gihring was tied for 102nd at 89.
There are 113 players in the Open Division this year and 25 in the Senior Division.
The second round starts at 7:30 a.m. today. The final round starts Sunday.