Courier sports staff
---- — AMES – Ottumwa’s Matthew Walker is just 18 holes away from adding the title of Iowa Junior PGA champion to an already long list of honors earned out on the golf course.
The defending Iowa High School 4A state individual champion and Iowa Junior PGA golfer of the year is one round away from taking home the 2013 PGA Junior Iowa title. The soon-to-be Ottumwa High junior has the lead by two shots over Bettendorf’s George Qian after firing an opening round of four-under-par 67 at the Ames Golf and Country Club to lead the Boys 16-18 division of the 38th PGA Junior Iowa Championship.
The honor of winning the top division of the tournament adds the extra incentive of being able to represent to the Iowa PGA at the National 38th PGA Junior Championship. That tournament will be held at Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Va. From July 30 through Aug. 2.
Walker was just one of four players to finish the first round under par in the 16-18 boys competition. After pars on the first four holes, Walker birdied a par-4 fifth hole that proved costly for Qian who took his second bogey early in his round on the same hole.
Walker closed the front nine with a birdie on the par-3 ninth for a two-under 33. The OHS linkster didn’t have a blemish on his round and added back-to-back birdies on the 11th and 12th to move to four-under to answer as Qian rallied with four birdies in a six-hole stretch to pull within one of the lead.
There are other golfers from Ottumwa and other local areas competing in the 38th PGA Junior Iowa Championship. Bron Bjerke of Ottumwa is tied for 25th in the Boys 13-15 division after a 14-over-par round of 85 while Fairfield’s Nick Higgies is tied with Bloomfield’s Logan Faler for 29th after both local golfers shot rounds of 16-over-par 87s.
Steven Langland of Ottumwa is also contending for a title in the 12 and under division. The nine-hole opening round of play left Langland tied for second place with two other golfers after a three-over round of 40, just two shots back of Cedar Falls’ Ben Bremel.
Fairfield’s Lindsey Repp is the only local female competitor in the field at the PGA Junior Iowa Tournament. Competing in the Girls 13-15 division, Repp is in ninth after day one at 39-over-par with an opening round of 112.
Walker, Qian, Fort Dodge native Eddie Doyle and Cedar Rapids native Davis Sutton will all be paired together as the only four 16-18 boys division player to finish under par Monday will play in the final pairing today. The foursome tees off in Ames at 8:42 a.m.