Four mid-ams to watch at the U.S. Amateur
Last year at Southern Hills Byeong-Hun An became the U.S. Amateur’s youngest champion at 17 years, 11 months and 13 days. He defeated Ben Martin, 7 and 5, in an exciting final.
The 2010 championship will be played at Chambers Bay, the longest venue – 7,742 yards – ever hosted by the USGA.
Typically, college stars make great runs at the Amateur title, but that could change this year. Here are four mid-amateurs to keep an eye at Chambers Bay.
- Home: West Des Moines, Iowa
- Age: 47
- School: Wichita State
- Graduated: 1985
- Why he can make a run: The nine-time Iowa player of the year is no rookie when it comes to USGA events. A U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinalist in 2008 and 2005, McCoy advanced to the third round of the 2008 U.S. Amateur. McCoy plays a busy amateur schedule during the summer and has seen a lot of his potential opponents over the last couple of years. Even at age 47, McCoy can make a run. If he were to face a college standout like Kevin Tway, Bud Cauley or Russell Henley, McCory would be comfortable. But if a 16-year-old started out-driving him, that would pose a different metal challenge.
- Home: Charlottesville, Va.
- Age: 41
- School: N.C. State
- Graduated: 1992
- Why he can make a run: Illinois’ Mike Small is always the first college golf coach mentioned when talking about coaches who have game. But look out for Virginia coach Bowen Sargent. This will be his first appearance at the Amateur since 1991, where he lost in the second round. While playing for the Wolfpack, Sargent was a two-time All-American (1990-91). Two of his players – seniors Henry Smart and Amory Davis – are in the field at Chambers Bay. You know Sargent wants to show his guys that he still has game.
- Home: Germantown, Tenn.
- Age: 51
- School: Tennessee
- Graduated: 1984
- Why he can make a run: Jackson was the medalist last year at Southern Hills. His run didn’t last long, however, because he lost to Charlie Holland in Round 2. When it comes to playing in USGA championships, Jackson has had success. Jackson won the 2001 and 1994 U.S. Mid-Amateur, and in 1995 made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur at Newport Country Club. At the age of 50 Jackson was medalist, and at age 51 I don’t see any reason why he can’t play well enough again to get in to match play.
- Home: Pittsburgh
- Age: 32
- School: Allegheny College
- Graduated: 2001
- Why he can make a run: Last year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur champion is coming off a memorable summer of 2009 where he was a part of the Team USA’s winning Walker Cup squad at Merion. Last year, Smith also won the Pennsylvania State Amateur, and this summer won the Pennsylvania Tournament of Champions. Smith is only 32 and walking the long course of Chambers Bay won’t be a problem. He proved he was one of the top amateurs in the world last summer, and currently the Pittsburgh resident is currently No. 13 in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Player Rankings.