Unknown Leopold wins again at U.S. Amateur
ERIN, Wis. – Many of those reaching match play in the 111th U.S. Amateur Championship at Erin Hills Golf Club are familiar names in the amateur golf world. Some, however, are not.
Bobby Leopold certainly would fall into the latter category. More than likely outside of the Rhode Island/Massachusetts area, the 26-year-old whose full-time day job is in the insurance business in Cranston, R.I., would be considered an unknown.
But that may be changing as Leopold now finds himself in Friday morning’s Sweet 16 round at the U.S. Am. More importantly, he sent some heavyweights tumbling on his road to the third round.
Coming back Thursday morning to complete his first-round match, Leopold, who gained the 64th and final spot in the match-play field in a 20-for-4 playoff the day before in stroke play, defeated qualifying medalist and three-time UCLA All-American Gregor Main, 2 and 1.
Coming back in the afternoon’s second round, Leopold scored a most impressive 4-and-3 victory over recent Georgia graduate Harris English, a 2011 U.S. Walker Cup selection and winner this summer of the Southern Amateur and Nationwide Tour’s Children’s Hospital Classic.
It won’t get any easier for Leopold as he takes on Jordan Russell, a second-team All-American as a junior at Texas A&M last season, in Friday’s opening match of the Sweet 16. Russell advanced when he rolled past Bryson Dechambeau, 5 and 3.
“I’m trying to keep everything in perspective,” said Leopold, who this year tied for 10th at the Rhode Island Open and advanced to the quarterfinals at the Rhode Island State Amateur. “The way I see it, everyone out here is good and on any given day anyone can beat anybody.
“This (winning two matches) kind of gets the monkey off my back,” Leopold said. “Last year, I lost in the first round at the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Mid-Amateur. So now to get to the third round here is pretty special.”
Leopold, who was born in Albany, N.Y., but grew up in Surrey, England, before returning to the U.S. when he was 18 to play golf at Rollins College in Florida, won Nos. 3 and 4 to go 2 up. English won the fifth, but Leopold then got on a roll.
He won Nos. 6 and 9 with pars and was 3 up at the turn. He won 11 with a birdie and 13 with a par to make it 5 up. English won No. 14 with a par, and when the two halved 15 with birdies, it was over.
“I’ve been playing well all week, but the last two rounds I’ve really been making putts, and that’s the difference,” Leopold said. “I’ve been playing solid and not making many mistakes.”
Leopold graduated from Rollins in 2007 and in 2009 got his master's in finance at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.
At one point, he said he had aspirations of turning pro and spent two years in Florida working on his game with that end in mind. However, after looking at all the pluses and minuses, he decided “that just wasn’t the life for me.”
He and his wife, Taylor, married in August of 2009, moved back to the Northeast, where he went to work for his father-in-law in his independent insurance agency.
His wife is here at Erin Hills this week, as is his father-in-law, Scott Cooke, who, as Leopold says, “is my caddie this week, my friend, my adviser and my boss.”
And right now there’s no doubt the Cookes are quite proud of their newest family addition.
In some other key second-round matches:
• Defending champion Peter Uihlein won five consecutive holes (7-11) and cruised past Dylan Frittelli, 5 and 4.
“The first six holes were a grind,” said Uihlein, a 2011 Walker Cup selection and winner of this year’s Northeast Amateur. “On seven, when I made that (8-footer for birdie) putt, it felt big. It was nice to see it go in, and that got me going for the rest of the day.”
• Scott Langley, the 2010 NCAA champion who will take on Uihlein in the Round of 16, won the first two holes and never looked back as he cruised to a 4-and-3 win over Mitch Sutton, a junior at N.C. State from Canada.
• John Peterson, the 2011 NCAA champ and recent LSU graduate, sank a 3-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 1-up win over Stephan Jaeger from Germany and the University of Chattanooga.
“I’m definitely pleased to be going to the third round,” said Peterson, who finished second last month at the Nationwide Tour’s Children’s Hospital Classic. “I played 26 holes today (eight in completing his first match with a win on the 22nd hole and 18 in the afternoon), and right now I’m pretty tired of golf for the day.”
• Incoming Stanford freshman Patrick Rodgers, a 2011 U.S. Walker Cupper and winner of this year’s Porter Cup, won the first three holes en route to a 6-and-4 victory over Jonathan Garrick.
• England’s Tom Lewis, a 2011 GB&I Walker Cup member and low amateur at this year’s British Open, made par on the 19th hole to edge 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur winner Cory Whitsett.
• Jack Senior of England, another GB&I Walker Cup member this year, won 4 and 3 over Alabama incoming freshman Justin Thomas, runner-up at the 2010 U.S. Junior.
• Patrick Cantlay, a sophomore at UCLA, won the final two holes of regulation with birdies and then made par on the 21st hole to beat fellow 2011 Walker Cup team member Russell Henley, a recent Georgia graduate.
Both players eagled the first playoff hole - the par-5, No. 1 - with Henley draining a 35-foot putt and Cantlay matching him by sinking a 25-footer. Cantlay secured the win when he made a 4-foot par putt on the 21st hole after Henley was unable to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker.
“We both play very well, and it was a great match,” Cantlay said. “It was a grind, and I’m pretty drained right now. It’s been an exhausting day.”
• Incoming Texas freshman Jordan Spieth, who claimed his second U.S. Junior Amateur title this summer, won the 16th hole with a birdie and 17th with a par for a 2-and-1 victory over Lee Bedford, who was an honorable mention All-American as a junior at Wake Forest last season.
“It was a good match and a real grind,” Spieth said. “I’m just glad to be moving on. But I know tomorrow could be a long day (third round and quarterfinals scheduled). At least, I hope it is.”