James Lepp may live in British Columbia and compete for the University of Washington, but he has found playing on the East Coast to his...

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PHILADELPHIA — James Lepp may live in British Columbia and compete for Washington, but he has found playing on the East Coast to his liking.


Lepp, who fired a par 70 on Monday in the U.S. Amateur at Merion Golf Club, followed that with a 5-under-par 65 yesterday at Philadelphia Country Club. His total of 5-under 135 was the top qualifying score, four strokes better than that of Korey Mahoney of East Lansing, Mich.


Lepp will be seeded No. 1 today at Merion when the match-play portion of the U.S. Amateur begins.


The cut at the end of stroke play was established at 146, which was 6-over par. A total of 19 players finished at 146 and will play off at Merion for the final 17 berths in the match-play field starting at 7:30 a.m. EDT today. The first round will begin at 8 a.m. EDT.


Lepp said winning medalist honors had been his goal “for the most part.”


“I had a good round” Monday, he said. “I wanted to have a positive outlook today. There are so many [good] players in the field that a little hiccup here and a little hiccup there and you could get near the cut line, even if you had a good round” Monday.


The resident of Abbotsford, B.C., competing in his first U.S. Amateur, carded six birdies and a single bogey. He played his first nine — the back nine at Philadelphia Country Club — in 2 under, and that helped him play his second nine “a little more relaxed.”


“There are some tough holes here, and you can mess up pretty badly,” he said. “I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that it’s sometimes in your mind.


“On the [second] nine, I started feeling a lot better over the ball. I found a key with my putter and translated it to the rest of my game. I combined that with a swing key that I had earlier and I was just killing it. The last hole, I hit it like 330, 340 [yards]. I was striping it at the end.”


The 5-foot-9, 155-pound Lepp received an exemption into the U.S. Amateur thanks to his 2005 NCAA championship, when he rallied from a 6-stroke deficit with a final-round 63, then defeated Michael Putnam of Pepperdine on the third hole of a playoff.


He admitted that the NCAAs “took a lot out of me.” He wound up missing the cut at the Canadian Amateur, but he said a five-hour practice session at the site of that competition helped him figure some things out.


Notes


• Seattle Pacific’s women’s soccer team was picked first in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll. Seattle University was second, followed by Western Washington, Humboldt State, Northwest Nazarene, Central Washington and Western Oregon.


• The University of Puget Sound was picked to win its fourth straight Northwest Conference women’s soccer title in the preseason coaches poll, finishing ahead of Willamette University and Whitworth College.


Compiled from sports-information reports and other sources.