Amateur Blog


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When Cantlay turns pro, don’t expect a tweet

In the middle of Patrick Cantlay’s summer run that hoisted him into the headlines, a Twitter account popped up, purporting to belong to the amateur star. It seemed an uncharacteristic move by the quiet Cantlay. It was. The account was a fraud, and soon removed from the social-media site at the family’s request.

Cantlay, unlike many college kids, has no interest in social media. “I just like doing my own thing,” the UCLA sophomore said. “I’m fine if no one knows what I’m thinking or no one knows what I’m doing on Friday afternoon at 1:57.”

There are plenty of people interested in Cantlay’s inner-most thoughts, though. There’s one question above all the rest that they’d love to have answered: When are you turning pro?

“I’m just worrying about this week and trying to play as best I can this week,” said Cantlay, who is playing the Northern Trust Open on a sponsor exemption. “I’m an amateur this week.”

Cantlay said his father, Steve, and instructor, Jamie Mulligan, have been handling the research required before a potential leap to the pro game.

When asked how the PGA Tour’s ...

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Golfweek calls out for ‘Local Legends’

Golfweek Staff

There are many amateur golfers who have compelling stories to tell.

Do you know of a "Local Legend"?

Golfweek wants to hear about golfers with impressive amateur records on the state and local scene. Several will be highlighted in our annual Amateur Issue on May 4.

Send nominations by March 2 with brief credentials to or fax to (407) 563-7077 (Attn: Local Legends). Please include name, address and contact numbers for the nominee.

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Injury-free Popson gets Curtis Cup nod

Beth Ann Nichols

Erica Popson was not on my Curtis Cup radar. Why? Because she hasn’t played in a USGA event since the 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior. 

“I thought there was no way I was going to get picked because of that,” Popson said.

Luckily for Popson, the USGA’s International Selection Committee didn’t hold that against her. She became the first player from the University of Tennessee to be named to a Curtis Cup team on the strength of an outstanding college resume. She won four times last season, including the SEC Championship and NCAA West Regional titles. She’s currently No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. The trip to Scotland in June will be her first time outside the country.

So why the slim summer schedule?

Popson injured the thumb on her left hand two and a half years ago and realized quickly that she needed the time off in the summer to give it some rest. Doctors thought it was tendonitis or a joint problem that she’d have to learn to live with. Last fall, however, the pain grew worse and she found it difficult to perform basic daily functions like put on deodorant ...

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First-round knockout: Family feud rattles Dixie Am

Beth Ann Nichols

The Clyburn family’s annual winter golf holiday to the U.S. took a bizarre turn last week at the Dixie Amateur.

According to a Coral Springs, Fla., police report, a fight broke out Dec. 30 between family members of two players during the first round of the women’s tournament at Heron Bay Golf Club. No charges were filed, but reportedly fists flew and a driver was wielded as a weapon after a slow-play penalty led to a player’s disqualification.

Tournament officials would not comment when contacted by Golfweek, and witnesses have been reluctant to speak. But based on the police report and interviews with the Clyburn family, here is the sequence of events:

India Clyburn, 15, was making her debut on the Florida Orange Blossom Circuit. Her older sister, Holly, 20, a Curtis Cup veteran and one of the United Kingdom’s top players, also was entered in the Dixie.

India was paired with Lucia Polo of Guatemala and Vivian Gallin of Germany, and the younger Clyburn sister had her mother, Allison, on the bag.

According to India’s father, Paul, the group was warned about slow play at the turn. By the time the threesome reached ...

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An act of contrition for a troubled golfer

Jim McCabe

Making a call on a possible violation always has been at the heart of Pete Blaisdell’s passion for being a top-echelon rules official.

Fielding a call about a violation is a different story.

“It shook me up. I wasn’t sure how to react,” Blaisdell said from his home in New Hampshire as he related an eerie telephone call he got, though it’s one that might speak volumes to how sacred some see the Rules of Golf.

Listening to a woman who called his house Tuesday evening, Blaisdell was told that she was calling on behalf of her husband. The man wanted to speak to Blaisdell, but she warned that he was sick and heavily medicated. The man then got on the phone and said that he used to play in U.S. Golf Association qualifiers more than 10 years ago and he had an incident during a Public Links qualifier that required Blaisdell being called into a dispute on a putting green at Gardner (Mass.) Municipal Golf Course.

It seems a playing competitor had insisted that this man’s golf ball had moved after the man had addressed it. The accused denied the ball had moved. One ...

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After long journey, Harman at Q-School finals

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Q-School doesn’t care about your amateur resume. It’s all about numbers, not name recognition. Brian Harman learned that lesson the hard way.

Harman was the 2003 U.S. Junior champ and represented the United States at the 2005 and 2009 Walker Cups. He failed to advance out of Q-School’s first stage in his first two attempts. Last year, he double-bogeyed his 70th hole to miss by a shot.

“That hurt pretty bad,” he said. “It made me work a lot harder. I’ve been working my butt off, man, just trying to get better and better.”

Harman made it to Q-School finals this year, and is in good position halfway through the week. He’s tied for ninth at 9-under 207. A final-nine 29 Friday shot him up the leaderboard.

Harman added to his list of bad Q-School memories on his ninth hole Friday, hitting his approach into the water. He dropped his club in frustration, then watched it sink between two rocks lining the 18th fairway at PGA West’s TPC Stadium Course (Harman teed off on No. 10).

“I have no business letting go of a golf club out there,” Harman said ...

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Scratch Players discontinued due to sked conflict

Ron Balicki

When the U.S. Amateur Championship moved its playing dates up one week beginning in 2012, some wondered whether this might have a domino effect on other tournaments normally played around that time.

The answer is, yes – at least in one case.

The Scratch Players Championship, usually held about a week earlier and at a site near the U.S. Amateur, is, well, scratched.

Considered by many as one of the world’s leading amateur tournaments, the SPC will no longer be staged.

“With the U.S. Amateur henceforth moving up one week permanently, this squeezed the SPC out,” said Fred Solomon, founder and head of the Scratch Players Group, which started, runs and operates the Scratch Players Championship. “If held, it would conflict with the Canadian Am, Cardinal Am and European Am annually.

“It would also follow the Porter Cup, then the Western Am, then the SPC right before the U.S. Am,” Solomon said. “I just don’t believe a top amateur is going to play four weeks straight, and the first event to skip among those four would be the SPC. I’m simply not interested in investing the enormous time to run a world-class event and ...

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SGA revives Southern States Four-Ball for 2012

Ron Balicki

Most people, myself certainly included, don’t remember the Southern States Four-Ball Championship. Simply put, it was before our time.

Still, there was a time when it was one of the country’s premier amateur competitions.

And, it has some pretty impressive names in the world of golf to prove it. Charlie Yates, Harvie Ward, Fred Haas Jr. and Gardner Dickinson Jr., were among the winners and contenders when the event was played from 1939 through 1948 (with a break for World War II).

The heavy involvement from the great Bobby Jones hardly did anything but make it a “must play” for the country’s top amateurs at the time.

Jones typically presented the winning trophy when the tournament took place six times at his home club of East Lake in Atlanta. It was also played once each at Birmingham (Ala.) Country Club and General Oglethorpe Golf Club in Savannah, Ga.

The unique trophy was a large plaque dedicated to Jones, with small replicas of the four trophies he won in his “grand slam” series in 1930.

Now, after more than a half century of dormancy, the Southern Golf Association is reviving the Southern States Four-Ball Championship. The ninth edition ...

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Holtgrieve ‘thrilled’ to return as Walker Cup captain

Ron Balicki

At a news conference shortly after Great Britain & Ireland scored a 14-12 victory over the U.S. at this year’s Walker Cup match at Royal Aberdeen (Scotland) Golf Club, American captain Jim Holtgrieve was asked to look to the future.

The question presented: Now that he’s gone through his first Walker Cup, and presuming he again would be the captain at the 2013 matches, what has he learned and what might he do differently the next time around?

“I can’t really comment on that until I get the official captaincy,” he said at the time, referring to a decision would be up to the U.S. Golf Association. “It’s been the history the last few years that both captains have got it here as well as over there (U.S.). I just hope I’ll get the opportunity again, and then I’ll start judging from there.”

Holtgrieve will, in fact, have that opportunity. The USGA again named him captain of the American side, and again he will face off with GB&I captain Nigel Edwards when the 44th Walker Cup is staged Sept. 7-8 at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y.

“I ...

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Asian Am champ Matsuyama wins on Japan Tour

Hideki Matsuyama, the two-time Asian Amateur champion who impressed at this year’s Masters, won the Japan Tour’s Taiheiyo Masters on Sunday, becoming the third amateur to win on the Japan Tour.

Matsuyama, 19, eagled the par-5 18th to win by two shots over Toru Taniguchi, the 72nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking. Matsuyama finished at 13-under 203 (71-64-68).

“I didn’t expect to win this tournament,” Matsuyama told The Japan Times. “At the 18th hole, (final-group playing competitor Toru) Taniguchi-san set up an eagle chance, so I just tried to follow him with a shot of my own.”

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Sang-Moon Bae, No. 27 in the OWGR, were among the players tied for third at 10-under par. Ryo Ishikawa, who’ll join Schwartzel at this week’s Presidents Cup in Australia, finished eighth. Another member of the International Presidents Cup team, Kyung-Tae Kim, finished 15th.

Matsuyama birdied Nos. 14 and 15 before eagling the final hole at Taiheiyo Club’s Gotemba Course. The victory moved him to No. 196 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He entered the event ranked sixth in the R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. The World Amateur ...

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Matsuyama highlights Asian Amateur field

Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama highlights the field for the third annual Asian Amateur Championship, which begins Thursday at Singapore Island Country Club.

Augusta National, the R&A and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation formed the Asian Amateur two years ago as a way to develop competitive golf in the region. The Asian Amateur champion earns a Masters invitation, while the top two finishers are exempt into International Final Qualifying for next year’s Open Championship.

Matsuyama went on to finish 27th and earn low-amateur honors at this year’s Masters, a performance that validated this young event. He’s risen to fifth in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking since last year’s five-shot victory over Australia’s Tarquin MacManus at Japan’s Kasumigaseki Country Club.

Though Matsuyama has established himself as a one of the world’s top amateurs, the depth of the Asian Amateur field is still questionable. There are only five top-50 players in the field. New Zealand Stroke Play champion Ryan Fox, at No. 21 in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking, is the second-highest-ranked player in the field, followed by Australia’s Jake Higginbottom (39), New Zealand’s Ben Campbell (44) and Australian ...

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Giles rails against long putters at Senior Am

James Achenbach

MANAKIN-SABOT, Va. – Vinny Giles, playing his home course and looking uncomfortable in the role of sentimental favorite, lost in the second round of match play Tuesday in the USGA Senior Amateur.

On this day, his golf would not come close to speaking as loudly as his words.

One minute, Giles was suffering with a long putter at Kinloch Golf Club, three-putting from 25 feet on the 20th hole to hand the victory to Ron Kilby of McAllen, Texas.

The next, he was blasting all long and belly putters, labeling the U.S. Golf Association “gutless” and calling for a ban on all putters attached to the body.

“It’s been a good eight years that I’ve used a long putter,” Giles said. “I could go back (to a conventional short putter), and I wish the USGA had the guts to outlaw them (long and belly putters).

“We should not be able to putt with those things. We shouldn’t be able to putt with anything attached to our bodies.

“Why they’re so gutless, I don’t know. I want them to just say, ‘OK, we make the rules.’ If the PGA Tour wants to say, ‘We’re not ...

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Former USGA president gives Senior Am a try

James Achenbach

MANAKIN-SABOT, Va. – Overhead in the gallery at the U.S. Senior Amateur: “I can’t believe it. lsn’t that Fred Ridley out there?”

True, Ridley competed in the Senior Amateur, missing the 36-hole cut in the medal-play portion of the championship.

With scores of 72 and 83 at Kinloch Golf Club, the former U.S. Golf Association president from Tampa, Fla., posted a 155 total that left him out of the low 64 qualifiers for match play.

Amateurs 55 and older are eligible for the Senior Amateur. Match play begins Monday and ends Thursday, with Paul Simson of Raleigh, N.C., attempting to defend the title he won last year.

Despite Ridley's not having qualified, he remains something of a poster boy for the USGA because he is a past president and a past U.S. Amateur champion.

If the USGA required its administrators and officers to pass a playing-ability test - the dreaded PAT for the aspiring club professionals - we might not have a USGA.

Thank goodness the game of golf in the United States is ruled by golfers who love the game far more convincingly than they might be able to play it.

Ridley, though, is an ...

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Wildman's picks: Round 1 at the Walker Cup


9.00 a.m. – Tom Lewis & Michael Stewart vs. Peter Uihlein & Harris English

This will be the marquis match between the hometown favorite and one of America’s best. With the crowd rooting for Lewis and Stewart, look for USA to silence them early with a morning victory from Uihlein and English.

9:10 a.m. – Jack Senior & Andy Sullivan vs. Russell Henley and Kelly Kraft

Jack Senior was a Walker Cup killer at the U.S. Amateur. That trend may continue with the help of Andy Sullivan to give GB&I its first point of the day.

9:20 a.m. – Paul Cutler & Alan Dunbar vs. Nathan Smith & Blayne Barber

Smith and Barber are nice guys, but do they have that killer instinct? At the Walker Cup you have to be mentally tough. For some reason, I’m thinking nice guys finish last in this one. Cutler and Dunbar score the point.

9:30 a.m. – Steven Brown & Stiggy Hodgson vs. Patrick Cantlay & Chris Williams

Cantlay and Williams are two of the top amateurs in the world being paired with one another. They both are quiet on and off the course. This pairing seems like the lock of ...

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McIlroy recalls the rush of the Walker Cup

The first tee of any international competition is nerve-wracking. There's large crowds and the emotions associated with wearing one's flag. Throw in the youth of most Walker Cup participants and it makes for a downright volatile mixture brewing in players' stomachs. For proof, consider this story from Rory McIlroy, who faced Dustin Johnson in the first foursomes match at the 2007 Walker Cup. A juiced-up Johnson hit the opening tee shot before the announcer finished calling his name.

Said McIlroy, “He must have had a bit of adrenaline as well because he hit it about 400 yards. I stepped up and I didn't realize how far he had hit it, and I hit mine and I hit it really good. I was playing in front of a home crowd and I was feeling it. I was pumped up. I hit mine maybe 320, and I get up there and was 60 yards behind him. I was like, hmm, this could be a long day."

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