This week’s 100th Western Junior is the first tournament Connor Prassas has played since graduating from Loyola on May 27.
With no college coaches to impress anymore, the University of Michigan-bound Prassas purposely lightened his schedule to both enjoy his summer and be fresh for when he arrives in Ann Arbor for college.
But Prassas is showing few signs of rust.
After Wednesday’s 1-under 69 at the par-70 Park Ridge Country Club, Prassas’ 2-over 142 was good enough to make the 36-hole cut one of the most prestigious amateur events in the world. The tournament concludes Thursday with 36 holes.
“I wanted to take it easier this summer and not have to practice a lot right after graduation,” said Prassas, who played in the 2015 Western Junior. “I am not showcasing myself anymore.”
On Park Ridge’s tight, tree-lined track, which measures 6,635 yards, hitting fairways was a key to Prassas bettering from his first-round 73. He made three birdies and two bogeys. The two bogeys were a result of him missing the fairway.
“If you’re in the fairway, you usually have a wedge in your hand and you’re able to score,” he said.
After the Western Junior, Prassas will be busier.
On Monday, he will try and qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur at Fieldstone Golf Club in Auburn Hills, Michigan. On Tuesday, he will defend his title at the Illinois State Junior Amateur at Makray Memorial Golf Club in Barrington. In July, he will play at the Illinois State Amateur at Calumet Country Club, and in August, Prassas will compete against professionals at the Illinois Open at the Glen Club.
“I am not playing in many tournaments as I have in the past, but they are bigger tournaments and against better competition,” he said. “I am trying to keep my game sharp.”
Prassas was one of seven players in the field with Loyola connections, but the only one to make the cut. Reb Banas (Class of 2017), Jack McGuire (Class of 2017), Kevin Meehan (Class of 2017), John Kryscio (Class of 2018), Chip Savarie (Class of 2018) and Ryan Savarie (Class of 2019) also competed this week.
William Mouw, of Chino, California, leads at 8 under after 36 holes. Some of the past champions at the Western Junior include Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are past participants.