With several of the top-ranked American amateurs playing at Congressional for the U.S. Open, there were a few other tournaments across the country. Walker Cup hopefuls had a great opportunity to steal headlines in their respective fields without the names of Patrick Cantlay, Russell Henley or Peter Uihlein. Shockingly, no one rose to the occasion.
A Canadian won the Monroe Invitational, eh? Last week, the Monroe was the premier amateur tournament in the States, but no American won. N.C. State’s Albin Choi, a Toronto native, won the tournament in a playoff over Chase Wright. There were a handful of “bubble” guys at the Monroe, but no one stepped up to help their case. After nearly winning the Sunnehanna, Lee Bedford tied for 35th, and Jonathan Randolph and Bo Hoag tied for 19th. The biggest winner of the amateur golfers this week may have been Brad Benjamin, because he not only qualified for the U.S. Open, but he made it to the weekend, as well.
An Aussie won the British Am – Oi, Oi, Oi! Had one of the three Americans won the British Amateur, there would have been one less Walker Cup spot to talk about. However, neither Maxwell Scodro, Alex Johnson nor Chris Piumelli even advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Had one of those three made it to match play and won a few matches against some of Europe’s or GB&I’s best, then perhaps they could have garnered some recognition. Instead, Scodro was the top finisher in stroke play of the three, tying for 76th. I’m not sure what was more disappointing: a poor USA showing on the leaderboard, or a lack of USA appearing on the field list?
Southeastern Amateur gets stung: After playing in only three tournaments his freshman year at Georgia Tech, Seth Reeves won the Southeastern Amateur by three shots over Sepp Straka. Reeves, a Georgia native, won the tournament in his home state, but this victory won’t even get him a blip on the Walker Cup radar. In his first collegiate start for Tech, he tied for 16th at the Brickyard, followed by a T-67 at the U.S. Collegiate and T-1 at the Grub Mart Collegiate. One thing to note about all of those showings is that he played in each tournament as an individual. This is a good win for a young up-and-comer, but unless he wins a lot more this summer, Captain Holtgrieve will just read the Southeastern Amateur’s headline and move on.
Winners and losers from the U.S. Open: We already are under the assumption that UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay is a lock for the Walker Cup. Finishing as the low amateur at the U.S. Open should just about solidify that theory. Only two other amateurs made the cut this weekend at Congressional – Russell Henley and Brad Benjamin. Henley has a Nationwide Tour victory under his belt, and also is seemingly a lock to make the squad. The biggest winner, despite the performances of Cantlay and Henley, may just have been Brad Benjamin. Benjamin was the only other amateur to make the cut this weekend, and that should go a long way for someone who opted to stay amateur for two more years in hopes of making the Walker Cup. Benjamin won the U.S. Amateur Public Links in 2009, but never really got a good look to make the team. This year, Benjamin is off to a good start and showed captain Jim Holtgrieve he can compete at the highest level.
Over the past six months, David Chung’s game has seemed to disappear. Last summer, Chung won the Porter Cup and Western Amateur and reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur, but the past six months have been very disappointing. In four regular-season spring tournaments for Stanford this season, he had finishes of T-28, T-58, T-35 and T-61. This week at the U.S. Open, he defeated only two players in the field, three if you include Tim Petrovic, who withdrew. When putting the Walker Cup team together, it’s all about who has the hot hand, or has been playing really well. I’m not sure what has happened to Chung’s game the past six months, but his current play now doesn’t warrant a spot on the Walker Cup.