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Beshoory, Leyvani Lead 109th Texas Amateur after Round 1

TRINITY – Pryce Beshoory of Pearland and San Antonio’s Angelo Leyvani each shot sterling rounds of 4-under-par 68 on Thursday at Whispering Pines Golf Club. They share the first round lead at the 109th Texas Amateur Championship.
(For complete scores, click here.)

Beshoory, a junior at the University of Houston, shot out of the gate in a hurry with birdies on his first three holes. The No. 1-ranked course in Texas, Whispering Pines offers variety in its opening stanza. The first hole is a short par 4; then comes a risk-reward par 5, and the third hole is a downhill par 3 over water. Beshoory mastered them all.
He made the turn at 3-under par, mixed in two more birdies against one bogey on his final nine to post 68.
“I drove the ball really well. I’ve been practicing a lot on driving back at home,” Beshoory said. “Also I’ve been doing a lot of wedge work. I hit a lot of wedges close today. That’s where I made my birdies. My lag putting was great, too. The greens are fast, and you don’t want too many downhill putts or across the ridges. I did a really good job with lag putting and controlling my speed.”
Leyvani, meanwhile, started his round on the 10th hole. A senior at Stephen F. Austin, he dropped in three birdies on Whispering Pines’ back nine before making the turn. But it was an unlikely par on the 603-yard, par-5 17th that Leyvani will remember most from the early part of his day.
“What really got me pumped was on 17. I hit it left, but we ended up finding it,” Leyvani said. “I hacked it out, and then made par from 260 yards out. That really got me going because I made a nice birdie on 18, which is a really tough hole. I just sailed in from there on the front nine. Hopefully from here, I can get the ‘W’.”
Although they paced the field today, Leyvani and Beshoory have 54 holes to go and a host of worthy challengers to fend off if one of them is to be crowned champion. Three players are tied for third place, just one shot back. Coming in with 3-under 69s were William Moll from Houston, Ramsey Reece of Austin and Plano’s Pierceson Coody, who last week won the prestigious Byron Nelson Junior Amateur Championship.
Five players are tied for sixth place at 2-under 70. That group includes Chandler Phillips, a senior at Texas A&M who holds the Aggies’ career victory record with six collegiate wins. Also in the logjam at sixth place is San Antonio’s Levi Valadez, who finished tied for second in the 108th Texas Amateur last summer.
With another talented field of the best amateurs in Texas, it’s not a surprise to learn 17 players are under par and within four shots of the lead after 18 holes.
Recently voted the No. 1 course in Texas by the Dallas Morning News, Whispering Pines has long been considered one of the finest venues in this part of the country. The 2000 Chet Williams-designed course has held that top spot in the DMN’s Top 100 poll for 11 of the past 13 years. Both gorgeous and intimidating in places, Whispering Pines also ranked 28th in the country in the Golfweek Top 100. It is currently ranked 55th in America by Golf Digest.
The 7,368-yard, par-72 course sits on the banks of Lake Livingston and winds through mature piney woods with swampy water hazards throughout the expansive, 450-acre property. The routing culminates with a thrilling six-hole finishing stretch along the lake. Each of the final six holes made the DMN’s most recent “Best Holes in Texas” list.
In Thursday’s first round, Whispering Pines played to a stroke average of 78.39. The back nine played about a shot harder, and the par-4 11th hole ranked as the toughest of the day. Playing uphill at 416 yards, No. 11 played to an average of 4.66 and yielded only 13 birdies against 83 bogeys or worse.
Interestingly, the field on average bounced back quickly. The par-5 12th hole played as the least difficult at an average of 4.97. The dogleg-left 12th gave up 44 birdies and two eagles.  
Almost from the opening tee balls at 8 a.m., the weather Thursday was hot and humid. By the early afternoon, it was a sticky 93 degrees with little wind, which produced a “feels like” temperature of 99. Intermittent cloud cover and a slight breeze provided a bit of solace late in the day for the afternoon wave of players.
On Wednesday night, the TGA handed out several awards at a special Players’ Dinner at Whispering Pines. Past president Malcolm Holland won the Bob Wells Award, an honor given to those who demonstrate consistent, exceptional efforts of giving back to the game. Jason Smith from Paris was our 2017 North Texas Volunteer of the Year; Jack Grimes from Richmond took home the 2017 South Texas Volunteer of the Year award.
The TGA also honored San Antonio’s Colby Harwell, who was the 2017 Texas Player of the Year. Among many other top finishes, Harwell won the 2017 Texas Mid-Amateur Championship at Comanche Trace. Will Osborne from Fort Worth was the 2017 North Texas Player of the Year, and Trevor Sauntry of Houston was the 2017 South Texas Player of the Year.
The second round of the 109th Texas Amateur starts Friday at 8 a.m. here at Whispering Pines. Following play, a 36-hole cut will trim the field to the low 54 scores, including ties. For more information, click here.