There was some great amateur golf played over the Fourth of July weekend. Here are my top five observations from this past week.
1.) The Dogwood Invitational was a shootout. Did you happen to see the scores? Was it a putt-putt contest or something at Druid Hills in Atlanta? The top 11 finishers were a combined 159 under par! Talk about some exciting golf. Andrew Yun stole the show with his 20-under performance, including a stellar 62 in Round 2. Runner-up Anders Albertson must have left the Dogwood wondering what else he possibly could have done to win. He finished at 19-under 269, for goodness’ sakes. The 485-yard, par-5 ninth hole was a big reason for the low scores. Through four rounds, there were 17 eagles and 170 birdies made there. Makes you wonder how the players who made the four double bogeys feel.
2.) Top players bounce back. After struggling at the Northeast Amateur, Brooks Koepka and Hunter Hamrick played themselves into the weekend at the Dogwood. Hamrick tied for 29th, and Koepka finished 36th. These aren’t the results these type of players have in mind, but after finishing outside the top 60 at the Northeast, they showed the maturity to bounce back from an off week.
3.) Medalist? What medalist? Joseph Juszczyk may have won the 18-hole stroke-play qualifying at the North & South Amateur, but that doesn’t mean he was the No. 1 seed. At the North & South, the defending champion (David Chung) automatically is given the top seed in match play. Spots 2-32 on the match-play bracket are then given to the 31 top-ranked amateurs who accepted invites to play. What does that all mean? Juszczyk didn’t receive the No. 1 spot and instead received the No. 33 spot. He suffered a Round 1 defeat to William Sjaichudin, 5 and 3. It just doesn’t seem right that after you post 4 under on Pinehurst No. 2 you don’t get treated like a No. 1.
4.) Chung’s match-play success. I think it is safe to say David Chung enjoys playing at the North & South. Last year’s champion had almost the same amount of success this year, but just fell short, losing in the semifinals to Kelly Kraft in 22 holes. Not only has Chung had success at Pinehurst in the past two summers, but earlier in the summer he defeated two great players at the Palmer Cup. At Royal Portrush Golf Club, Chung defeated Rhys Enoch, 4 and 3, and then Henrik Norlander, 4 and 2. It is far too early to make U.S. Amateur predictions, but Chung is startling to look like someone to circle on my match-play bracket . . . assuming he makes it to match play.
5.) Does length really matter? The courses that held the Northeast Amateur and Dogwood Invitational were less than 7,000 yards, and both events had great finishes. I often think tournaments go out of their way to make golf courses as long as possible. But sometimes shorter holes and courses can be fun to watch. When players at the Dogwood are shooting rounds in the low 60s and players at the Northeast shoot rounds in the mid-60s, you won’t hear players complain that much. I know not every tournament needs to be under 7,000 yards, but it is nice to see shorter courses once in a while. With that said, get ready to walk a lot at the U.S. Amateur Public Links at Bryan Park. The course in Greensboro, N.C., will be the second-longest in the tournament’s 85-year history – 7,218 yards. Players had their fun at the Dogwood and Northeast, but now it’s time to put those walking shoes back on for the Publinks.