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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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."
The United States is heavily favored at the Walker Cup, and for good reason. The American team features the world’s top-ranked amateur, Patrick Cantlay, and six of the top 10, plus two winners of Nationwide Tour events, Russell Henley and Harris English. The race for the final spots on the 10 man roster was tight because so many Americans were playing well in the weeks leading up to the Walker Cup.
Great Britain & Ireland’s advantage comes in the competition’s site, Royal Aberdeen. Most of the United States’ players are unfamiliar with links golf. The GB&I squad also will have the support of large, partisan galleries. The Walker Cup is a big deal in the British Isles. The home team will have to make the most of those advantages to win this weekend against a U.S. squad listed as a 4-9 favorite by British oddsmakers.
“I think (the U.S.) has to be favorites, given their achievements that they’ve had,” said Great Britain & Ireland’s Jack Senior, a semifinalist at the U.S. Amateur. “But our guys are on form; they’re playing well. Pretty much everyone had a good summer and played well the ...
ABERDEEN, Scotland – Steven Brown wasn’t on anyone’s Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team last year. In fact, he wasn’t even named to the original 23-man squad last November. Yet Brown has a chance to become the hero of the 43rd Walker Cup.
At age 24, Brown is the oldest player on the GB&I team. Unlike his younger teammates, he hasn’t had much of the limelight over the years. Most of the team members have made names for themselves from exploits in junior golf. Not Brown. He’s a late developer.
Four years ago, Brown wasn’t even playing full-time amateur golf. He was doing what many 20-year-olds do after finishing high school.
“I went traveling around the world with some friends, and it was awesome,” Brown said. “Golf was the furthest thing from my mind. So I didn’t really start playing again until I was about 20. I didn’t really have the bug for a while, but I got it after my travels.”
A member of Wentworth, home of the European Tour, Brown took his place on Nigel Edwards’ GB&I team thanks to winning the English Amateur Championship, and runner-up finishes in ...
Just as well that the Walker Cup is not played on paper. Otherwise, the Great Britain & Ireland team might just not turn up for the match that begins Saturday at Royal Aberdeen.
On paper, it appears to be no contest.
The United States is bringing some heavy guns to try to win George Herbert Walker’s cup. U.S. captain Jim Holtgrieve has the world’s top four players on his side. He has five of the world’s top 10, eight of the world’s top 24 and nine players in the top 55. He only has one player outside the world top 100.
GB&I captain Nigel Edwards, meanwhile, counts only two players in the top 10, four in the top 20 and six in the top 36. Nine of his players are inside the world top 80, and he has one player outside the world top 200.
World No. 1 Patrick Cantlay leads the U.S. team as one of the world’s top four players, along with Jordan Spieth, Patrick Rodgers and Peter Uihlein, the world’s Nos. 2, 3 and 4 players, respectively.
Harris English rolls in at No. 6. He is one of two ...
ERIN, Wis. – Jordan Russell won’t be playing Sunday in the title match at this year’s U.S. Amateur Championship at Erin Hills Golf Club after he was defeated Saturday morning by the world No. 1 amateur Patrick Cantlay, 4 and 3, in the semifinals.
Still, Russell will be taking a lot of positives from the week back with him to Texas as he begins his senior season at Texas A&M.
“Overall this has been a great week. I had some close matches and know I can come back after being down,” said Russell, who, in the quarterfinals defeated defending champion and 2011 Ben Hogan Award winner Peter Uihlein, 2 and 1.
“I’ll leave here with nothing but confidence. I think this (week) will help a lot and falls right in line with my last year and a half in college,” Russell said. “This is another stepping stone for me.”
There have certainly been plenty of stepping stones for Russell over the last four years. That’s usually the case when you start your journey from the bottom.
Russell was born and raised in College Station, Texas, and his father David is a chemistry instructor at Texas ...
ERIN, Wis. – The last time Jack Senior visited the United States was when he went to Disney World as a boy, yet as he looked around this week at Erin Hills, everything felt so familiar. The wind whistling through the golden fescue. The burned-out, rolling fairways. The ragged-edged bunkering. The temperature, well, that was a bit different. But you get the idea: The Englishman’s first experience playing in the U.S. was a rousing success, even with a loss Saturday in the semifinals of the 111th U.S. Amateur.
“The lesson I learned,” Senior said, “was that I should be out here playing more often. This style of game suits me. This is where I feel most comfortable.”
Senior, 23, a member of the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team, said he originally decided to play the U.S. Amateur only because, at No. 20, he was exempt through the World Amateur Ranking and needed match-play experience before the Walker Cup in two weeks. At home, he plays at local Heysham Golf Club in northwest England, about 40 minutes from Royal Lytham. Imagine his delight, then, when he won the Lytham Trophy in May.
“But everyone always said to ...
ERIN, Wis. – Max Buckley is entering his senior year at SMU, but he’s already decided he’s not going to play professional golf. He spent his summer interning at Oppenheimer Funds, not traveling the country to play in amateur events.
It’s a schedule that’s in stark contrast to those of Peter Uihlein and Patrick Cantlay, but it seems to have worked for the 21-year-old from Rye, N.Y. He’s advanced to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals, and will face Cantlay on Friday afternoon.
“I know I’m not going to a be golf pro, I know I’m going to be a lifelong amateur,” said Buckley, an economics major. “This has just been awesome. It’s pretty surreal. But I know on any given day I can match up to these guys.”
Buckley left his house at 5:45 each morning to take the 6 a.m. train from his home in Rye, N.Y. to Wall Street. He’d try to squeeze in some practice in the evenings, estimating he’d practice 2-3 hours during the week, then play golf during the weekends. That truncated schedule may have helped Buckley.
“My practice was more productive ...
After great matches in the Sweet 16, there are some interesting match ups to watch in the quarterfinals.
• Jordan Russell will face Peter Uihlein. The two players from the Big 12 conference are quite familiar with one another. In April, Uihlein played in the Aggie Invitational and won the tournament by five shots. Guess who finished runner-up, on his home golf couse? Texas A&M Aggie Jordan Russell.
• After defeating NCAA Champion John Peterson in 19 holes, Max Buckley will now have the tough challenge of facing the NCAA player of the year Patrick Cantlay. Last year, Cantlay was a semifinalst at the U.S. Amateur Championship where he lost to Peter Uihlein. The two could meet again, but Buckley has shown he has the game to compete. Before defeating Peterson, Buckley beat U.S. Walker Cup team member Chris Williams, 1 up.
• In the third quarterfinal match U.S. Walker Cup member Patrick Rodgers will face the winner of the Blake Biddle-Kelly Kraft match. Earlier this summer Rodgers won the Porter Cup and tied for second at the Players Amateur. If Rodgers were to win, he could potentially face another standout junior golfer he has rivaled the last few ...
ERIN, Wis. – Cory Whitsett employed his coach at Alabama, Jay Seawell, this week at the U.S. Amateur, and they attaboy’d and you-da-man’d their way through 19 holes Thursday, through moments both joyous and deflating, until Whitsett’s opponent, the third-ranked amateur in the world, rapped in a 5-footer for par and the win.
“I learned about him,” Seawell said of Whitsett, 19, “and he proved he’s as good as anybody in the country - no, he’s as good as anybody in the world.”
That’s not just coach-speak, either. Through 13 holes Thursday afternoon, Whitsett was 3 up on Tom Lewis - the first-round co-leader at this year’s Open Championship and the best international player in this field - and he let it slip away. A choked-up 3-wood on 15 that was hit thin. A blocked 2-iron on 15 that led to a few hacks out of the fescue. And then the devastating blow - a tee shot into the hazard on the first extra hole, and a lip-out for par.
“But the important thing,” Seawell said, “is that he got his confidence back.”
Indeed, that was in short supply last month at The Players Amateur. After watching ...
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 ...
Tomorrow U.S. Walker Cupper Peter Uihlein will face Walker Cup hopeful Scott Langley. After last year’s U.S. Amateur, it seemed that Langley was a guaranteed lock to make the team. However, since the national championship Langley has struggled.
At the NCAA Championship Langley shot rounds of 73-86-80 (+23) to finish tied for 129th at Karsten Creek. The year before, Langley won the national championship on The Honors Course with scores of 70-68-68 (-10).
This past year Langley did have a strong senior season. He posted six top 10’s on the year, but failed to win a tournament. His best finish during the college season was a T-2 finish at the D.A. Welbring Intercollegiate.
Fast forward to the summer. When it comes to making the Walker Cup team, the selection process is supposed to be based on a two-year window. It is fair to say that Langley’s summer couldn’t have gone worse leading up to the final decision on who makes trip to Scotland.
Since the NCAAs, Langley tied for 72nd at the Porter Cup, and 56th at the Western Amateur. He was not in the field at the Sunnehanna, nor did he play ...
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