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Tait: GB&I’s Brown could be breakout star

Alistair Tait

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 ...

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Walker Cup preview: U.S. better on paper

Alistair Tait

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 ...

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Russell leaves Amateur with plenty to build on

Ron Balicki

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 ...

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Senior comfortable, productive in U.S. debut

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 ...

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Despite lack of practice, Buckley soaring at U.S. Am

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 ...

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Wildman: A quick look at U.S. Am quarterfinals

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 ...

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Despite loss, Whitsett regains confidence at Am

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 ...

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Unknown Leopold wins again at U.S. Amateur

Ron Balicki

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 ...

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Langley's Walker Cup fate in question

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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Keep an eye on Bedford vs. Spieth at U.S. Am

ERIN, Wis. – It’s tough to argue that the Peter Uihlein-Dylan Frittelli match and the Patrick Cantlay-Russell Henley showdown aren’t deserving of most of the attention Thursday at the U.S. Amateur. But while these are waged, there is another match to put on the radar in Round 2.

Lee Bedford will face two-time U.S. Junior Championship winner Jordan Spieth. In the round of 64, Bedofrd easily defeated Will Collins, 6 and 5. Spieth, on the other hand, had a battle with Jade Scott, but was able to advance, 2 and 1.

Spieth, who will be a freshman this fall at Texas, is another candidate for a potential Walker Cup spot. With fellow junior golfer Patrick Rodgers on the team, there is some debate as to whether there is room for another “youngster” on the squad.

Bedford started the summer for runner-up honors at the Sunnehanna Amateur, tied for fourth at the Cardinal Amateur, was a quarterfinalist at the North & South Amateur and finished fourth at the Southeastern Amateur.

If Bedford could score a win over the highly regarded Jordan Spieth, then perhaps he may start to get a little more consideration. The winner of this match seemingly ...

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Different circumstances, but Putnam again a favorite

ERIN, Wis. – When the U.S. Amateur was held last year at Chambers Bay, Andrew Putnam was considered a favorite. As a resident of University Place, Wash., where Chambers Bay is located, Putnam played the course many times.

However, that local knowledge wasn’t quite the advantage that he might have expected. In fact, Putnam says it might have been a disadvantage after the U.S. Golf Association had set up the Amateur.

“The course went through a 180-degree turn,” said Putnam, a recent Pepperdine graduate. “I expected to play one course, but ended up playing an entirely different one.”

Putnam failed to advance to match play at the 2010 U.S. Amateur, struggling with an opening-round 84 before a 1-under 71 the next day at the nearby Home Course, the other stroke-play site. He tied for 155th.

This week at Erin Hills, Putnam has built upon a summer of solid play. He shot 70-68--138 to tie for 13th and easily advance into match play. Putnam says it has been better to visit Wisconsin with hardly any knowledge of the course.

“I think it’s better to not have expectations for a golf course,” Putnam said. “Everyone’s on a ...

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For Peterson, Walker Cup chances improving

U.S. Amateur match play

ERIN, Wis. – The second round of match play at the U.S. Amateur has a few matches where more is on the line than just advancing to the next round.

NCAA individual champion John Peterson will be facing Chattanooga senior Stephan Jaeger. Jaeger upset Walker Cup hopeful Blayne Barber, 3 and 2, in the first round.

With Barber, U.S. Amateur Public Links champion Corbin Mills and Andrew Yun falling in the first round, an opportunity has emerged for Peterson if he can continue to make a run. Peterson has not received a pick for the Walker Cup.

Chattanooga head coach Mark Guhne is Stephan Jaeger’s caddie this week, and according to Guhne, Jaeger is gaining more and more confidence each day.

“He’s realizing how good a player he really is,” Guhne said. “Playing John will be a great challenge, just like playing Blayne was.”

An interesting note? In April of this year, Jaeger and his fellow Mocs traveled to Baton Rouge for the LSU Invitational. Peterson tied for third on his home course, but Jaeger won the tournament by seven shots over Iowa’s Vince India and was eight shots better than ...

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English dashes Yun's Walker Cup hopes at Am

Ron Balicki

U.S. Amateur match play

ERIN, Wis. – Coming into this week’s U.S. Amateur Championship at Erin Hills, Harris English already had his ticket stamped for a trip to Scotland next month as a member of the U.S. Walker Cup team. He was one of the first four players named to this year’s squad.

Andrew Yun, on the other hand, came into the event as one of many players hoping for one of the final three selections that would complete America’s 10-man team.

He knew it would take a good showing this week to keep those hopes alive. And when Yun drew English for his first-round match, he knew a victory would probably have made a big impression with USGA selectors.

But those hopes were dashed as English, a recent Georgia graduate, defeated Yun, a junior at Stanford, 3 and 1, to advance to the second round.

“He beat me fair and square,” said Yun, who was 4 under in the match. “That was one of the best matches I’ve ever played.”

Still, he knew his chances for a Walker Cup spot were fading.

“I’m probably on the outside looking in,” Yun said. “There ...

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Putnams make dynamic duo at Erin Hills

U.S. Amateur match play

ERIN, Wis. – Most players at the U.S. Amateur dream of becoming PGA Tour players. Andrew Putnam has one on his bag.

Putnam’s older brother Michael is caddying this week. He’s sidelined from the Tour with a fractured wrist, so he’s helping Andrew with the largest week of his amateur career. Andrew, who completed his collegiate career at Pepperdine in June, has two goals this week: win and earn a spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team.

The latter can be accomplished without the former, though a win would guarantee his inclusion on the U.S. squad that will play Great Britain & Ireland on Sept. 10-11 at Royal Aberdeen (Scotland) Golf Club. Putnam, who easily advanced to match play this week, is a leading candidate to earn one of the final three spots on the Walker Cup team, which will be named at week’s end. Michael Putnam played in the 2005 Walker Cup.

“It can only help in keeping me comfortable and confident on the course,” Andrew said of having his brother on the bag. There’s another benefit to having the 6-foot-4-inch, 215-pound Michael on the bag.

“His size ...

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Mid-amateurs fall short at U.S. Amateur

Ron Balicki

U.S. Amateur match play

ERIN, Wis. – When the 111th U.S. Amateur Championship commenced Monday at Erin Hills and Blue Mound Golf Club, the starting field of 312 players contained 41 mid-amateurs - those 25 years and older.

By Wednesday afternoon, after 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying, only two of the 64 players on the match-play bracket were mid-amateurs.

The oldest was Patrick Christovich of New Orleans. The other mid-am was Bobby Leopold, 26, of Cranston, R.I.

Beau Hossler, 16, of Mission Viejo, Calif., was the youngest player advancing into match play.

The average age of the 64 was 20.7.

• • •

In spite of strong, windy conditions, a weather delay of nearly four hours Tuesday and a fog delay Wednesday, there was some impressive scoring in stroke-play qualifying.

Led by medalist Gregor Main, the field made a major assault on par over the 2 1/2 days it took to complete 36 holes.

Main shot rounds of 65-67 for a 10-under 132 total, and 58 other players broke par for the two rounds. Main tied the previous low 36-hole score of 132 (which was 12 under) shot by Hank Kim in 1994 at TPC Sawgrass (Stadium and Valley courses ...

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U.S. Amateur: Take 5 (Tuesday)

Join Asher in the Southern Hills pro shop stock room to see what treasures it holds.

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