Amateur Cameron Smith is tied with Stephen Dartnall for the first-round lead at International Final Qualifying at Kingston Heath Golf Club in Melbourne. Smith and Dartnall shot 5-under 67 to lead the chase for the three available places in the 142nd Open Championship.
At the conclusion of the 36-hole qualifying tournament, three players will earn a start at The Open.
Smith is fresh off his victory at the Australian Amateur Championship, while Dartnall, who previously did a stint on the Web.com Tour, is aiming to play in his first major championship.
Three fellow Australians sit one shot back of Smith and Dartnall, and six others sit at 3-under par to round out the top 5.
I’ve pretty much always thought a tournament is a tournament is a tournament. To me, however, what places one tournament above another – particularly in the amateur game – are the people who organize and operate these events.
They are greatly involved and take a tremendous amount of pride in what they do and how all the pieces fit together to run a successful, competitive tournament. They give the event its backbone.
These are special people, and without them no tournament can succeed at the highest level of competition.
For what seems like forever, Tom Denn has been one of those special people when it comes to the Porter Cup, one of the country’s leading amateur tournaments, held each July at Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston, N.Y.
His health declining for more than a year, Denn, 79, died of heart failure in his sleep Jan. 21. But be assured, his legacy will endure within Porter Cup circles, starting with his son, Steve, who is entering his 13th year as the event’s tournament director.
“He certainly made his mark on so many people,” Steve Denn said. “When I started looking back at his life, it’s truly amazing ...
The last time a U.S. Walker Cup team had more than one mid-amateur was 2003, when Trip Kuehne and George Zahringer were among the 10 players selected for the biennial matches.
In 2005, for the first time, there were no mid-ams – players 25 or older – representing the American side against Great Britain & Ireland. In each of the past three events, only one mid-amateur played for the U.S.
That U.S. trend will change this year when the 44th Walker Cup takes place Sept. 7-8 at the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., site of the inaugural matches, in 1922.
The USGA announced Jan. 14 that a minimum of two mid-amateur players will be a part of the 2013 U.S. team that will attempt to regain possession of the Walker Cup following GB&I’s 14-12 victory in 2011 at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Scotland.
“This is something we’ve been talking about for a number of years and something we feel will be a win-win situation for not only the Walker Cup, but for amateur golf,” said USGA vice president Tom O’Toole, chairman of the Championship Committee. “The mid-amateurs are a key ...
The average age of U.S. Walker Cup members should be a little higher in 2013. The U.S. Golf Association announced Jan. 14 that the 10-member team selected to compete at the National Golf Links in Southampton, N.Y., in September will include at least two mid-amateurs.
“I applaud the decision made by the USGA to include mid-amateurs in the Walker Cup,” said U.S. captain Jim Holtgrieve, who played in three Walker Cups and was captain of the 2011 U.S. team. “I have seen firsthand, like other past captains, the impact the mid-amateur player can have on a team. Mid-amateurs can provide the leadership and maturity that helps build team chemistry.”
Walker Cup selections already have made headlines after the USGA International Team Selection Committee last month invited 16 potential players to participate in an informal practice session in Naples, Fla. Holtgrieve was there to observe. Golfers not invited to that session still are candidates for the team, however.
“In proposing the Walker Cup in 1921, George Herbert Walker’s original intent was to have a competition that fostered international goodwill between the USGA and The R&A,” said USGA vice president Thomas O'Toole Jr., chairman ...
Stanford signee Viraat Badhwar shot a final-round 70 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club to win the Australian Master of the Amateurs. Badhwar finished at 9-under 279 (67-74-68-70), two shots ahead of 54-hole leader Brady Watt.
Watt, No. 16 in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking, held a four-shot lead entering the final round. He'd held at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds. He closed with a 78 after shooting 68 or better in each of the first three rounds.
Badhwar, the world's No. 94 amateur, won the 2012 Toyota Junior World Cup and was runner-up at the Australian Junior.
Australia's Geoff Drakeford finished third at 282, while defending champion Nathan Holman was another shot back. Stanford's Patrick Rodgers finished sixth at 2-under 286 (72-73-71-70).
Asia-Pacific Amateur champ Tianlang Guan finished 19th at 6-over 294, following a first-round 68 with rounds of 76-74-76. Cal's Brandon Hagy was a shot back of Guan after shooting 73-79-70-73.
Peter Williamson, No. 4 in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking, finished at 301 after failing to break par in any of the four rounds.
Mike Brannan, a former member of the U.S. Walker Cup team and two-time California State Amateur champion, died Jan. 8 in Alamo, Calif, from complications related to cancer. He was 57.
Brannan made a name for himself as a teenager, winning the 1971 U.S. Junior Amateur before becoming a four-time All-American at Brigham Young.
He played professionally for five years before seeking reinstatement as an amateur. For the past 30 years, he worked as a sales representative for Ping Golf.
In the 1971 U.S. Junior, Brannan defeated Robert Steele, 4 and 3, in the 18-hole match-play final.
He won the California State Amateur in 1973 and 1976. The next year, 1977, he played on the U.S. Walker Cup team.
In the 1989 U.S. Amateur, Brannan defeated two Walker Cup players, qualifying medalist Eoghan O’Connell of Ireland and David Eger of the United States, in the same day.
He is survived by his wife, Shelley, and two sons, Kyle and Chase.
“Mike was a dear friend of mine for more than 35 years,” said Ping chairman and CEO John Solheim. “Our relationship went beyond work. It was one of genuine friendship. We played a lot ...
Australia’s Brady Watt will take a four-shot lead into the final round of the Australian Master of the Amateurs. Watt, No. 16 in the R&A World Amateur Golf Rankings, is at 13-under 203 (67-68-68). He’s the only player to break 70 in the first three rounds at famed Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
France’s Teremoana Beaucousin and Australia’s Geoff Drakeford are tied for third at 207. Beaucousin shot 68 Thursday, while Drakeford shot a second consecutive 70. Stanford signee Viraat Badhwar is in fourth place at 7-under 209 (67-74-68).
Asia-Pacific Amateur champ Tianlang Guan is 15 shots off the pace after a third-round 74. Guan was one shot off the pace after a first-round 68 at Royal Melbourne, but followed with rounds of 76-74.
Tennessee’s Richard Lamb is the low American at 2-under 214 (70-70-74). Stanford sophomore Patrick Rodgers is T-13 at even-par 216 (72-73-71), while Cal’s Brandon Hagy is at 6-over 222 (73-79-70). Peter Williamson is at 9-over 225 (76-73-76). Williamson, No. 4 in the R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, is the highest-ranked player in the field.
At the end of the 2011 Walker Cup, American Jordan Spieth faced the media after Great Britain & Ireland’s 14-12 victory at Royal Aberdeen (Scotland) Golf Club.
Then an incoming freshman at Texas, Spieth posted a 2-0-1 record in the competition, winning twice in singles. He talked about 2013.
“I’m going to work hard to make that team, because I’ve had an unbelievable time this week and would love to be a part of another one.”
That, however, will not be the case when the 44th Walker Cup takes place Sept. 7-8 at the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y. Spieth announced last month that he would forgo his final 2 1/2 years of college eligibility and his amateur status and turn professional.
It’s a trend that concerns Jim Holtgrieve, who will return as U.S. captain.
“The landscape in golf has certainly changed,” said Holtgrieve, who was a member of three U.S. winning Walker Cup teams (1979, ’81 and ’83). “Yes, the players are thinking about the Walker Cup, but they’re also thinking about where they’re going in their pro careers.”
Nathan Smith, 34, a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur ...
Tianlang Guan shot a second-round 76 to fall off the pace at the Australian Master of the Amateurs. The 14-year-old is nine shots back of 36-hole leader Brady Watt, the 16th-ranked player in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Guan was one shot off the lead after a first-round 68 at famed Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Watt, one of five players to hold the first-round lead, now stands at 135 (67-68) and two shots ahead of Geoff Drakeford. Canada's Garrett Rank, the 2012 U.S. Mid-Am runner-up, is in third place, three shots off the lead.
The University of Tennessee's Richard Lamb is the low American through two rounds; he's in sixth place at 140 (70-70). Peter Williamson, the highest-ranked player in the field, is at 149; the world's No. 4 amateur followed a first-round 76 with a 73 Wednesday. Cal's Brandon Hagy, No. 11 in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking, is at 152 (73-79), while No. 13 Patrick Rodgers is at 145 (72-73).
Tianlang Guan is faring well on an Alister Mackenzie design. He hopes the same sentence can be written in April.
Guan, the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion, shot 68 Tuesday in the first round of the Australian Master of the Amateurs. He's one shot back of a five-way tie for the lead. The Master of the Amateurs is being held at historic Royal Melbourne Golf Club, site of the 2011 Presidents Cup and regarded as one of the world's finest courses. Mackenzie designed both Royal Melbourne and Augusta National, where the 14-year-old Guan will play in this year's Masters.
Guan is one shot behind five Australians: Brady Watt, Viraat Badhwar, Geoff Drakeford, Nathan Holman and Jordan Zunic. Watt, No. 16 in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking, is the highest-ranked Australian in the field. Holman won the 2012 Master of the Amateurs. Badhwar, who has signed a letter of intent with Stanford, won the 2012 Toyota Junior Golf World Cup in Japan and was the runner-up at the 2012 Australian Boys Amateur Championship.
Tennessee's Richard Lamb shot 70 and is the highest American on the leaderboard. His countrymen struggled in the first round at Royal Melbourne. Peter ...
Australian Master of the Amateurs
Jan. 8-11, Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Black Rock, Victoria, Australia
Notables in the field: Tianlang Guan, Brandon Hagy, Nathan Holman (defending champion), Patrick Rodgers, Peter Williamson
The skinny: Tianlang Guan’s road to the Masters makes another stop in Australia at this week’s Master of the Amateurs. This trip will provide some valuable experience. Both this week’s site, Royal Melbourne’s West Course, and Augusta National were designed by Alister Mackenzie. Royal Melbourne, considered one of the world’s finest courses, hosted the 2011 Presidents Cup. Guan missed the cut in last month’s Australian Open with rounds of 82-70.
This event always features a strong, but small, contingent of Americans. This year is no different. Peter Williamson, the world’s No. 4 amateur, is the highest-ranked player in the field. He’s joined by countrymen Brandon Hagy and Patrick Rodgers, who are Nos. 12 and 13 in the R&A World Amateur Golf Rankings. Williamson, who completed his college career at Dartmouth last spring, plans to stay amateur until this year’s Walker Cup. Williamson, Hagy and Rodgers all took part in the recent 16-man practice session for the Walker Cup team. Tennessee’s Rick Lamb, recent winner of the Gifford Intercollegiate at CordeValle, also is in the field; he’s paired with Guan in the first round.
Brady Watt, No. 16 in the R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, is the highest-ranked player in the field from the home country. Australia’s Nathan Holman returns to defend his 2012 title.
Texas junior Toni Hakula shot a final-round 68 Jan. 6 at St. Petersburg (Fla.) Country Club to win the New Year’s Invitational.
Hakula’s 12-under 276 total was four shots better than Joshua White, who shot a final-round 67.
Hakula, of Finland, opened with 73, but was 13 under par in the final three rounds. His second-round 65 was the low round of the tournament, and was followed by scores of 70-68 on the weekend. He has finished in the top-10 in the past three New Year’s Invitationals. Hakula, a member of Texas’ 2012 NCAA Championship team, is No. 77 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and 159th in the R&A World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Michael Miller, No. 28 in the R&A World Amateur Golf Rankings, and SMU freshman David Lee tied for third at 6-under 282, six shots behind Hakula. Miller shot a final-round 70, while Lee was one shot higher on Sunday.
Miller was one of 16 players who participated in a recent practice session for the Walker Cup. Jim Liu was the only other Walker Cup practice-session participant to play at St. Petersburg Country Club. Liu didn’t break par until the final ...
• • •
DORAL, Fla. –- As Canada's Albin Choi stood in the famed 18th fairway at Doral’s TPC Blue Monster, he told his captain to give it to him straight. Live scoring lagged a bit on the final holes of the Copa de las Americas, and Choi wanted to know exactly what it would take to put his Canadian team in front of Mexico and the U.S. for good.
The latter two teams began the final round five shots behind Canada. Whispers and frantic calculations indicated a three-way tie for much of the final minutes of the tournament. Then the 10-footers started finding the bottom of the cup at No. 18.
In the penultimate group, American Steven Fox made a 10-footer for the U.S. before Rodolfo Cazaubon followed with one of similar length for Mexico. In the fairway, Choi stood with captain Robert Ratcliffe and knew it was close.
“We had the leaderboard pulled up the last few holes and (Ratcliffe) told us what we needed to do and how we stood,” Choi said. For him, that meant sinking a 12-footer for par and the outright ...
• • •
DORAL, Fla. – Jim Williams is not a course-to-range-to-bed-and-back kind of captain. On the outskirts of trendy South Beach, he has proved to have so much more style than that.
For the Copa de las Americas’ maiden visit to U.S. soil, at Doral's Blue Monster, it’s hard to imagine that the U.S. Golf Association could have found a more fitting captain. Except, Williams better describes his role as host. That’s just in his nature – Williams also is a member of the USGA Executive Committee.
The Copa is a biennial event among four-player teams from North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. An overall winner is named after 72 holes, and so are men’s and women’s team winners. The U.S. has won the past two events, and enters this year’s final round trailing two-time winner Canada by five shots.
The Americans have spent the early part of the week shaking off rust and bonding as a team. The U.S. posted its lowest team score of the week, 3-over 291, on Saturday. Is the best yet to come ...
• • •
DORAL, Fla. – Through three rounds of the Copa de las Americas, Albin Choi has all but secured man-of-the-match status for Canada. With 18 holes to play, the Canadians have a five-shot advantage on the U.S. and Mexico.
Five shots can disappear quickly at Doral’s Blue Monster.
For proof, look to the carnage and the triumphs that occurred at No. 18 on Saturday afternoon. Choi, in the last group to play the famous hole, hung a par putt on the lip that meant the difference between 69 and 70. He squatted down, hung his head, took off his ball cap and chucked his golf ball into the water. It certainly wasn’t the worst turn of luck at that hole.
An hour earlier, U.S. player Lindy Duncan went from even par to 4-over 76 when she left a flop shot in a bunker long and right of the green, then blasted her next shot over the green and into the water. Duncan, a Fort Lauderdale, native had been staging a charge for the Americans until that hole. Still, the 76 tied her best round of ...
Recent Men’s Amateur Golf Videos
Four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith, a member of the 2009 and 2011 Walker cup teams, shows off his swing from multiple angles.
Take a look at the swing of New Year's Invitational winner Brandon Hagy, a redshirt sophomore at Cal.
Asher Wildman runs into Emmy Award-Winning Sportscaster Joe Buck at the U.S. Women's Amateur at Old Warson Country Club in St. Louis. Find out who Joe thinks is going to win!