This week offers a couple of great amateur tournaments to follow. Here’s a preview of what you can expect:
- Course: Druid Hills Golf Club
- City: Atlanta
- Yardage: 6,860
- Par: 72
- Round 1 begins: Wednesday
- Weather forecast: Scattered thunderstorms for Wednesday, but partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the high 80s through Saturday
- 2009 champion: Brian Harman
- Why you should watch: The Dogwood is certainly not lacking in big names this year, and players range in age from 17 to 62. U.S. Open participants and in-state locals Russell Henley and Hudson Swafford will try to keep the trophy in their backyard. The 72-hole will have a 54-hole cut Friday. The top 40 and ties will have a chance to win at Druid Hills.
Best bet: Russell Henley. Over the years, UGA players have won at Druid Hills (Hudson Swafford in 2006 and Brian Harmon in 2009). Henley ended the 2009-10 collegiate season as the top-ranked college player in the country. Given familiar competition – and playing on a familiar golf course in his home state – Henley will have some home cooking in the Peach State this week.
Dark Horse: Bobby Wyatt. I’m interested to see how the 17-year-old performs in another big-time amateur event. Earlier in the year, the soon-to-be Alabama freshman finished fifth at the Jones Cup and now has a chance to really test himself. He has had plenty of junior success over the past couple of years, but now it’s time to see if he can compete with the big boys.
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North & South Championship
- Course: Pinehurst No. 2
- City: Pinehurst, N.C.
- Yardage: 7,346
- Par: 71
- Qualifying Round: Tuesday
- First Round of Match Play: Wednesday
- 2009 champion: David Chung
- Weather forecast: Scattered thunderstorms Wednesday followed by a weekend of sunshine.
- Why you should watch: Aside from the U.S. Amateur Public Links, the North & South may be the best tune-up for the U.S. Amateur. Anything can happen in match play, and the site of the annual event is second to none: Pinehurst No. 2. Match-play tournaments do not come around often, but when they do, we keep our fingers crossed for a Cinderella run from someone.
Best bet: Robert Riesen. This would be a Cinderella story. Not only is Riesen a local guy from Pinehurst, but he has a resume that I circled immediately when trying to decide who to pick. First, he has played in the North & South Amateur, U.S. Amateur and Carolinas Amateur, which means he has match-play experience. His best finish was at the North & South came in 2008 when he finished 33rd. He graduated from UNC in 2009, and has played Pinehurst No. 2 several times, both in amateur and college tournaments. Sounds to me like this guy has scouted the course and knows what to expect.
Dark horse: Joseph Bramlett. Bramlett won the Northeast Amateur last week, which makes me cautious with this pick. I don’t like picking a guy to win in back-to-back weeks, but this tournament is entirely different. Bramlett won’t need to shoot in the 60s every day to win. Instead, Bramlett just needs to get in to match play to give himself a chance. The way he has played this summer makes me believe that the key to another Bramlett win is success with the putter.