Amateur Blog


Detroit Tigers ace has trouble on the course

Golfweek Staff

Play the ball as it lies.

It was a tough break for Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander as his ball landed on a tree stump while playing a round of golf at Kinloch Golf Club in Manakin-Sabot, Va., over the weekend.

His tweet:

Golf fans made reference to the 1996 golf movie Happy Gillmore, starring Adam Sandler. More specifically, when Shooter McGavin landed a shot on ‘Frankenstein’s fat foot,’ (the character known in the movie as Mr. Larson). In response, the pariodied account of McGavin reminded the Tigers ace that golf does indeed have a rulebook.

A hilarious scenario, but no answer as to whether Verlander hit the shot.

A rule is a rule.

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It's no accident: McCloskey makes match play

Beth Ann Nichols

U.S. Women's Amateur

CLEVELAND – It’s something of a miracle that Lisa McCloskey made it to her 21st birthday. The accident-prone McCloskey – wearing a white bandage across the bridge of her nose – gave herself a nice birthday present Aug. 7 with a 2-under 70 in the second round of the U.S. Women’s Amateur, easily advancing to match play at The Country Club. No, she didn’t get punched in the face. Yes, she did walk into a metal pole.

McCloskey, a 2012 Curtis Cup member, isn’t going to let a small nose fracture keep her from that allusive USGA crown. Heck, that’s nothing compared to all the freakish things that have happened to her over the years.

While a freshman at Pepperdine, McCloskey drove a golf cart over a bridge and into a waterfall at Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. Playing in a school fundraiser, McCloskey hydro-planed her cart and flipped it, landing in the rocky pond on No. 17. Fortunately, she suffered only what she believed was a minor concussion and sprained ankle. She also lost a few articles of clothing along the way but managed to keep her pants on ...

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Women's Am is Prince's last tourney before move

Julie Williams

CLEVELAND – Kendall Prince is about to pull up her Ohio roots, but not before one last tournament in the Buckeye State.

Prince, last year’s Big 10 Freshman of the Year at Ohio State, says she doesn’t even feel like she’s in Ohio this week for the U.S. Women’s Amateur at The Country Club. The Lake Oswego, Ore., native had never ventured far from campus in Columbus, about 150 miles southwest of Cleveland.

Prince returns home immediately after the U.S. Women’s Amateur to retrieve her car and drive south to Arizona. She’ll join that roster this fall. Prince had originally committed to Oregon before deciding on Ohio State.

“I was looking to get back on the West Coast and ready for the Pac 12,” she said of her decision. “I think with Coach Laura (Ianello), it’s just a really good fit. I think that (good) weather year round will really help my game.”

Being healthy will, too. Prince missed the Big 10 Championship and NCAA regionals and nationals at the end of the spring because of a ruptured appendix. She had to sit out a month until she returned to full health ...

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Ko has early lead at U.S Women's Amateur

Julie Williams

CLEVELAND – Lydia Ko tells a nightmarish story about getting out of San Francisco after the U.S. Girls’ Junior and finding her way to Ohio. Read: The New Zealander isn’t used to American airports, where long lines, canceled flights and frustrating layovers are the norm.

“That’s life,” Ko says eventually with a sigh. “You can’t always have a perfect flight. I guess it’s good getting experience in all areas.”

Perhaps Ohio wouldn’t be high on the list of stateside destinations for a 15-year-old making just her fourth trip to the U.S., but the past two weeks have been all about practicality for Ko. That and making friends.

After being told she couldn’t spend the weeks leading up to the U.S. Women’s Amateur honing her game at The Country Club, Ko has been holed up at nearby Stonewater Golf Club and Little Mountain Country Club. At night, she returns to her hotel room to watch crime dramas like CSI and surf Facebook. It’s a pretty choice life, even if it has been adventure-free. The only college campus Ko has visited during this trip to the U.S. is Stanford. To be ...

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Griffin, 16, makes Round of 16 at Public Links

U.S. Amateur Public Links (match play)

MIDWAY, Utah – Ben Griffin got his driver’s license just eight day ago. Now the 16-year-old is in the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur Public Links after a 19-hole victory over Pacific’s Alex Edfort.

Griffin hit pitching wedge to 4 feet on the 19th hole – the first at Soldier Hollow – then made the putt after Edfort lipped out his 15-footer for birdie.

“It was a great match,” Griffin said. “We both didn’t play as well as we would’ve liked, but it was really back-and-forth. It was a close match all day. It was whoever stayed alive and hit the right shot at the right time.”

Griffin squared the match with a par at the 481-yard, par-4 ninth hole. They halved every hole on the back nine, making eight pars apiece and birdies at the par-5 16th. Edfort reached that green in two, but Griffin had to lay up after driving into a fairway bunker. Griffin’s approach with a 54-degree wedge lipped out and stopped 1 foot from the hole. Edfort two-putted for birdie.

“That was pretty key,” Griffin said.

Griffin recently completed his sophomore year at ...

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Despite change in plans, Meadow excited for Open

Julie Williams

KOHLER, Wis. – After she got the lay of the land Tuesday at Blackwolf Run, Stephanie Meadow had a quick email to send. The rising junior at Alabama has to play hookey for the first few days of summer school. She hopes her finance professor understands.

The first day of that session happens to coincide with the opening round of the U.S. Women’s Open, a tournament to which Meadow gained entry only three days ago, courtesy of her Ladies British Amateur victory.

All of a sudden, Meadow’s summer has taken a decidedly different turn.

“This was supposed to be an easy summer. This was supposed to be the whole month of July off and just kind of easy, like mini off-season,” Meadow said. “... I was thinking right after the British Am, I’m done for a month, just relax. We couldn’t miss this for the world.”

Meadow arrived in Wisconsin late Monday night, and spent time Tuesday morning working around the greens. She opted only to walk a few holes on Tuesday, and will play a full 18 on the eve of the championship. Meadow has a late-afternoon tee time on Thursday with former Arizona State player ...

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Tait: Golf needs more slow-play penalties

Alistair Tait

TROON, Scotland - Add Nathan Kimsey’s name to a list that includes Morgan Pressel and Ross Fisher. Finally the snails are being outed.

About time, too!

Kimsey was handed a one-shot penalty for slow play in the second round of qualifying for the British Amateur Championship. The Englishman picked up two bad times, and the R&A docked him a stroke. His 72 turned into a 73, but he still qualified for the match play stages.

Pace-of-play guidelines have been in existence for the Amateur Championship for years. Ditto for the Open Championship. In fact, the R&A, U.S. Golf Association and all professional tours have pace-of-play guidelines. It’s just that they haven’t really been enforced.

Until now.

“Our championship committee had reviewed this whole thing over the winter and decided the policies we had in place were the correct ones, and we are going to enforce them somewhat more rigorously than we had in the past,” R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said.

Pace-of-play guidelines were printed in 16 languages and placed on a large notice board in the foyer of the Royal Troon clubhouse. Competitors hardly could fail to miss them. Kimsey obviously failed to ...

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Neisen advances to WAPL match play

Beth Ann Nichols

NESHANIC STATION, N.J. – It’s not often that players walk out of a scoring tent in tears after shooting under par. But for Steffi Neisen, stroke-play qualifying at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links provided a mixture of joy and relief. The hard work paid off.

Neisen’s goal coming into the WAPL was simply to advance to match play, something she hadn’t done in three previous USGA appearances. Rounds of 70-68 at Neshanic Valley Golf Course put her in second place at 6-under 138, one stroke shy of soon-to-be-USC-graduate Lisa McCloskey.

“I know I’m a good player,” Neisen said, but it meant something to the Nebraska junior to post those rounds back to back.

Few players in this week’s field have a perspective on the game like Neisen, 20, of New Prague, Minn. Her two brothers were diagnosed with Hunter syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that predominately affects males.

Sam Neisen died two years ago at age 16 from the terminal condition. Steffi’s youngest brother, 12-year-old Tommy, was diagnosed with the syndrome at age 3. When asked if Tommy was able to follow along by watching live scoring, Steffi said he can ...

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2014 Curtis Cup headed to St. Louis Country Club

Only a couple of hours after the final putt dropped in a dramatic, come-from-behind 10.5-9.5 victory for GB&I at the 2012 Curtis Cup, the USGA announced the site of the next Curtis Cup in 2014.

For the first time, the U.S. will host it in the state of Missouri, taking a USGA event back to the St. Louis Country Club for the first time since the 1972 U.S. Women's Amateur.

“The traditional values of sportsmanship and camaraderie that are evident at the Curtis Cup Match will be on display at a classic golf course,” said USGA Vice President and Championship Committee Chairman Thomas J. O’Toole Jr. said in a press release. “The skill of the players at this international competition will be tested by the architectural intrigue of St. Louis Country Club. We anticipate, as we always do, a spirited and friendly competition.”

“St. Louis Country Club views the 2014 Curtis Cup Match as a particularly appropriate way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its renowned Charles Blair Macdonald-designed golf course,” said Bill Sedgwick, the 2014 Curtis Cup Match Chairman. “The St. Louis Country Club has a rich history of golf dating back ...

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Anderson takes Curtis Cup loss in stride

Julie Williams

NAIRN, Scotland – Amy Anderson realized the inevitable at No. 12: If the Americans were going to keep the Curtis Cup, she had to win her singles match against Stephanie Meadow.

That kind of news tends to bring on a hand tremor. Anderson, however, remained calm.

“In all honesty, I didn’t feel the pressure here,” she said. For reference, Anderson pulled out her sole U.S. Golf Association victory, which happened three years ago at the U.S. Girls’ Junior. That, she said, was much more nerve-wracking.

Call Anderson the woman of the match for the Americans, even if it didn’t end as grandly as it started. The 19-year-old North Dakota native played every match and took away a 3-2 record. She began the week with three consecutive victories, falling eventually in the final session of fourballs (while paired with Emily Tubert) to Holly Clyburn and Kelly Tidy. Still, Anderson and Brooke Pancake played the anchor positions for the U.S. during Sunday’s singles matches.

“I’m so proud of how Amy fared out there,” U.S. captain Pat Cornett said. “She never gave up and she played really hard.”

As the GB&I points came in all ...

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Clyburn a vocal leader for GB&I

Julie Williams

NAIRN, Scotland – Holly Clyburn will walk away from the Curtis Cup with this distinction: She’ll be the only GB&I player to see action in all five sessions.

Early week, it appeared the GB&I bench would be an equal opportunity one. Captain Tegwen Matthews sat each player for one match before Saturday afternoon’s final fourball session. Charley Hull, the highest ranked player on the GB&I team at No. 5 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, got a second sit while Clyburn got to suit up. Sending Clyburn out seems a good decision from Matthews. So far this week, she’s been the most vocal of the GB&I players.

“My job now is to make sure we get the right pairings this afternoon,” Matthews said after her team took just one point out of morning foursomes. “We’ve been working hard on getting them right and I think we have.”

Clyburn and fourball partner Kelly Tidy produced the first GB&I point Friday afternoon. It came not a minute too soon – the team needed a rebound after losing all three morning foursome matches.

After a morning rout at the hands of the Americans, the GB&I ...

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Americans could learn a thing from Cornett

Julie Williams

NAIRN, Scotland –- Despite frozen cheeks from an early-morning practice round at Nairn Golf Club, three assembled members of the U.S. Curtis Cup team paused at the question, "Has Coach Cornett told you much about her playing days?"

Glances are traded before answers follow.

“The next two days,” Amy Anderson said. “I feel like she’s going to talk about the first tee with us.”

In other words, Pat Cornett is a coach who won’t speak much about her own accolades, of which there are many. She has more than 50 starts in U.S. Golf Association championships, and eight of those were in the U.S. Women’s Open. She was runner-up at the 1987 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, and won the 1990 Women’s Western Amateur.

“Their accomplishments probably far exceed what I was ever able to accomplish,” Cornett said, in what could be described as a question dodged out of modesty. “But I think the thing that I tried to bring to them is, the conditions out here can change dramatically,”

Cornett, 56, has seen this competition before, too – from the other side. She was a member of the 1978 and ’88 U.S. Curtis ...

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Tait: Let kids play for free, watch the game grow

Alistair Tait

Want a radical solution to grow the game? Let children play for free.

It’s time to own up to an unpleasant truth – golf is not growing in the western world. It’s shrinking. That’s why we should set the kids free.

There’s never been a better time to join a golf club in the British Isles. There was a time, say, 15 years ago when clubs in my area to the north of London had long waiting lists. No more. Those same clubs are openly advertising for membership. Many have dispensed with joining fees. Yet many are struggling to attract new members.

Some clubs are even going to the wall. Lamerwood in Hertfordshire was a lovely course when it opened in 1996. I had the pleasure of playing there with Retief Goosen. Those were heady days, when clubs like Lamerwood had marketing money to spend on a future U.S. Open champion.

Drive past Lamerwood now and sheep graze on what used to be fairways. Only the discerning eye can pick out what were formerly tees, greens and bunkers. Lamerwood was one of many courses in this part of Hertfordshire looking for business that has long since ...

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Jutanugarns among amateurs invited to Kraft

Beth Ann Nichols

Thai sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn will try to join the long line of talented teens who have made their mark at the Kraft Nabisco Championship as amateurs.

Ariya, 16, finished 25th last year in the LPGA's first major championship of the season. Moriya, 17, will be making her debut at the Rancho Mirage, Calif., event. They’ve accepted sponsor exemptions to play as amateurs along with Austin Ernst, Jaye Marie Green and Charley Hull at Mission Hills Country Club on March 29-April 1.

Moriya and Ariya are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the Golfweek/ Women’s Player Rankings as well as the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings, though Ariya leads the way in the latter.

Ernst, a sophomore at LSU, is the reigning NCAA champion. She advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur and will represent the U.S. at the 2012 Curtis Cup. The 20-year-old from Seneca, S.C., will be making her Kraft debut.

Jaye Marie Green, 18, of Boca Raton, Fla., spent a brief time as Golfweek’s No. 1-ranked amateur thanks to her victory at the 2011 South Atlantic Amateur. She helped lead the U.S. team to ...

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Commentary: Tait: Taylor handles USGA error with class

Alistair Tait

Full marks to England’s Lauren Taylor for the way she’s handled the news that she has been kicked out of this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, but the USGA goes to the bottom of the class for a colossal screw-up.

Officials at the governing body should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

The U.S. Golf Association told Taylor at the beginning of this month that she was in this year’s U.S. Women’s Open after winning the Ladies’ British Amateur Championship last year. Taylor made history when she won the championship at Royal Portrush. At 16, she was the youngest winner in championship history.

The USGA even put out a press release stating the English player was in the field. Then the governing body realized its error. Seems the USGA meant the exemption for this year’s Ladies British Amateur champion, not last year’s. They’ve now withdrawn Taylor’s exemption.

"This unfortunate case is simply the result of a miscommunication of the exemption category as it was originally intended," said Joe Goode, the USGA's managing director of communications. "Certainly we discussed a number of solutions to this situation, including making good ...

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