10 players to watch at U.S. Amateur Public Links

Washington's Chris Williams at No. 11 during the 2012 NCAA Championship at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Washington's Chris Williams at No. 11 during the 2012 NCAA Championship at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

The U.S. Amateur Public Links gets under way Monday at Soldier Hollow Golf Club in Midway, Utah. A national championship and an expected invitation to the Masters are on the line. Here are 10 players to watch:

Chris Williams: The Washington senior is coming off a playoff loss at the Sahalee Players Championship, which he won in 2011. He also won this year’s Washington State Amateur by 10 shots. Williams, a member of the 2011 U.S. Walker Cup squad, is No. 2 in the R&A World Amateur Ranking. He also was medalist at last year’s Western Amateur and winner of last year’s Pacific Coast Amateur. He made it to the Round of 32 at the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links.

Cheng-Tsung Pan: Pan was a second-team All-American as a freshman at Washington. He was 26th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, and won The Prestige. Pan was medalist at the 2009 and 2010 Western Amateurs, and has made the Sweet 16 in that event for the past three years. He’s No. 12 in the R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.

T.J. Vogel: The Florida senior was a second-team All-American this year after finishing No. 9 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. He won twice this season for the Gators.

Zac Blair: Blair, a BYU senior, will be the hometown favorite. He is No. 19 in the R&A World Amateur Ranking. He finished fifth in the Northeast Amateur and won last year’s Pacific Northwest Amateur. Blair was a third-team All-American this past season, including a win at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate. His father, James, played golf at BYU from 1974 to '77 and is a former Utah Open champion.

Derek Ernst: The 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links runner-up represented the United States at the recent Palmer Cup. He was an honorable-mention All-American this year at UNLV after finishing 61st in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. He also made the Sweet 16 at last year’s Western Amateur. Ernst, of Clovis, Calif., was the 2011 Mountain West Conference player of the year.

Ben Geyer: Geyer, a senior at St. Mary’s, has two runners-up this summer, at the California State Amateur and the Sahalee Players Championship. He also was this year’s West Coast Conference champion and made the Round of 16 at last year’s U.S. Amateur, where he was third in stroke play. His father, Andy, was a Division III All-American in golf at Cal State-Stanislaus and helped CSUS to Division III national championships in 1980 and 1981.

Kevin Penner: Ernst’s UNLV teammate recently won the Sahalee Players Championship in his hometown of Sammamish, Wash. He beat Chris Williams and Ben Geyer in a sudden-death playoff at Sahalee, site of the 1998 PGA Championship. Penner, an honorable-mention All-American, also made match play at last year’s U.S. Amateur.

Michael Kim: He was an honorable-mention All-American as a freshman at Cal. He’s coming off a runner-up finish at the Dogwood Invitational and seventh-place finish at the Sunnehanna Amateur. He also was fifth at this year’s Jones Cup.

Bryson DeChambeau: DeChambeau, an incoming freshman at SMU, recently won the Southern California high-school championship. He made it to the Round of 16 at last week’s North & South Amateur, and the second round of last year’s U.S. Amateur. He is from Clovis, Calif., the same hometown as Derek Ernst.

Talor Gooch: The Oklahoma State junior was No. 34 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings this past season. He made the Round of 16 at last year’s U.S. Amateur Public Links.

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