Five amateurs to watch at the U.S. Open
There are 10 amateurs in the field this week at Pebble Beach. Here are five to keep an eye on:
• Byeong-Hun An, Bradenton, Fla.: An, the youngest U.S. Amateur champion in history, is getting in good training before he starts his freshman year at California-Berkeley, which is located just 2 hours up the road. An will play in three of the world’s best major venues – Augusta National, Pebble Beach and St. Andrews – as well as a handful of other PGA Tour events. An, who has made the cut in one of five PGA Tour starts this year, also has exemptions into the AT&T National and Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational by virtue of his Amateur victory.
An and Ryo Ishikawa are tied for the youngest participants this week. Both were born Sept. 17, 1991.
• Bennett Blakeman, Burr Ridge, Ill.: Illinois Wesleyan isn’t exactly a golf powerhouse, but Blakeman is putting the Division III school on the map. Blakeman completed his career there last year – capping it off with a tie for eighth at the NCAA Championship – and is pursuing a master’s degree at Loyola University in Chicago. Blakeman was a first-team All-American in his final season at Illinois Wesleyan.
• Scott Langley, Manchester, Mo.: The left-hander is on quite a hot streak. Langley won the NCAA Championship, then won his U.S. Open sectional qualifier four days later. In his last five competitive rounds, which encompass the NCAA Championship and sectional qualifying, Langley has shot 70-68-68-66-66.
• Kevin Phelan, St. Augustine, Fla.: The 19-year-old, who just completed his freshman season at North Florida, qualified for the U.S. Open in style. Phelan holed a 30-yard flop shot for eagle on his final hole in sectional qualifying at McArthur G.C. in Hobe Sound, Fla. The hole-out capped a second-round 65, an eight-shot improvement over his first round.
• Hudson Swafford, Tallahassee, Fla.: Swafford had to sit out the entire college season because of offseason shoulder surgery but managed to qualify for the U.S. Open. He is one of two Georgia Bulldogs here: Russell Henley, who finished the season No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, also qualified for the Open.
And one final fun fact: Ben Martin is in the U.S. Open as last year’s U.S. Amateur runner-up. The only other U.S. Amateur runner-up in the field? Hunter Mahan, who lost the 2002 final to Ricky Barnes.