ERIN, Wis. – When the morning wave of players finally completed the weather-delayed second round of stroke play at the U.S. Amateur at almost 5:30 p.m., three players topped the leaderboard at 7-under 135.
Two of those leaders are not unknowns in the world of amateur and junior golf.
Beau Hossler, with a 4-under 66 at Blue Mound Golf Club, and Blayne Barber, with a 3-under 69 at Erin Hills Golf Club, were not big surprises.
Hossler, just 16 years old and a junior in high school, competed in the 2009 U.S. Am, qualified this summer for the U.S. Open, was qualifying medalist at this year’s U.S. Junior and was a 2010 AJGA first-team All-American.
Barber was a second-team All-American last season as a junior at Auburn and has been mentioned throughout the year as a possible candidate for this year’s U.S. Walker Cup team.
Then there was Ben Geyer, a junior at St. Mary’s in California, whose resume hardly matched those of the other leaders. But after a most impressive 6-under 66, Geyer had guaranteed himself a spot in the 64-player match-play portion of the championship.
“I came in here with a goal to make match play,” said Geyer, 19, of Arbuckle, Calif., who is playing in his first U.S. Am. “Now to shoot 66 and have a chance to be medalist, that would be quite an honor.
“The thing about this (U.S. Amateur) is you have to take it one step at a time. First is to make it to the tournament itself. Then to make it to match play. Then you have to go one match at a time, each one another step.”
Geyer concedes his college career hasn’t been exceptional but that his game continues to improve.
“I haven’t played that well in college, but I have come a long way with my game since my freshman year,” he said. “I played in only three tournaments as a freshman, but last year I played in every tournament. And, coming into this week, I had been hitting the ball really good and having some confidence.”
After hitting driver, 3-wood on the par-5 first hole Tuesday morning, Geyer had to stop as the horn sounded and play was suspended. Players returned to the course 3 hours and 40 minutes later.
“The way the conditions were when we started and even when we went back on the course, there was no way I thought there was a 66 out here today,” said Geyer, an honorable mention All-West Coast Conference selection last season. “But I just stayed patient and played solid and then birdied two of my last three holes when it was a little calmer.”
Geyer went on to birdie that first hole and then added another with a 10-foot putt at No. 3. His lone bogey came at the eighth when he missed the green left and his 8-foot par putt lipped out.
But he came right back, sinking a 25-footer at No. 7 and a 6-footer at No. 8, both for birdie. On the back nine, he made birdie at No. 12 from 18 feet, No. 16 from 5 feet and No. 18 from 15 feet.
“When I made that last putt, I was pretty excited,” Geyer said. “I knew it was for a 66 and knew how good that was because of how tough it was out there, especially with the wind.
“I’d have to say this is my best round competitively, especially considering coming in this championship against such a great field. But there’s still work to be done. I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and take it one match at a time.”