Amateurs: Whitsett falls short; Fitzpatrick makes cut
PINEHURST, N.C. – After a nice up-and-down at the par-4 18th at Pinehurst No. 2, Cory Whitsett turned to his caddie and asked, "What do you think I need to do on the last nine (to make the cut)?"
"2 under should do it," he replied.
With birdies at Nos. 1 and 5, Whitsett accomplished that quickly.
As he approached his final hole – the par-3 ninth – he knew it'd be nice to add one more. His tee shot left him about 12 feet down the hill for a 2-under 68.
But Whitsett was a bit too strong with it and it rolled 3 feet past the hole. He knocked that home and settled for a 1-under 69.
"A little softer and it probably falls," said Whitsett.
Unfortunately for the former Alabama All-American, that'd be the last putt he'd ever take as an amateur golfer. He was one of three players to post under-par rounds on Friday and still miss the cut, joining Luke Donald and Lucas Glover.
Whitsett played the waiting game all afternoon, moving all the way from T-92 when he left the course to T-68 as the second round wrapped up. But with the cut coming at the top 60 and ties, it didn't move far enough.
A day after firing a 7-over 77, Whitsett refused to hang his head.
"Just proud of the way I played coming down the stretch today," said Whitsett, a four-time U.S. Amateur participant. "My game has been trending in a good direction. It's more than just this round to look at. I can look back at my last two months of golf and see how much I improved."
That improvement came at the perfect time for Alabama, as the Tide repeated as national champions behind his senior leadership.
PHOTOS: 2014 U.S. Open (Friday)
Check out photos from Friday's second round of the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina.
Whitsett's amateur career included both of those national titles, a U.S. Junior Amateur championship at the age of 15, All-American status three times, SEC Player of the Year honors in 2013 and then five amateur titles, including three straight Linger Longer Invitational triumphs.
Whitsett won't have much time to reflect on his impressive amateur resume, as he'll tee it up on the Web.com Tour in Wichita and Indiana the next two weeks.
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MAKING THE CUT: Matthew Fitzpatrick will follow Whitsett's lead next week and join the professional ranks, playing at the European Tour's Irish Open on Thursday.
But he managed to add an accolade to his growing resume, as he will take low-amateur status after he was the only one to make the cut. It is his second such distinction, also doing it at the 2013 Open Championship.
Fitzpatrick, paired with Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose for the first two rounds, needed a long two-putt from about 60 feet on No. 18 to card a 3-over 73 and get into the clubhouse at 4 over, securely inside the cut line that fluctuated to 5 over often on Friday afternoon.
"I was walking up the last trying to look for a friend, really, and see if he would tell me something this time," said Fitzpatrick. "But I hit a good drive and then hit it to sort of front edge of the green and one of our mates just screamed, 'Yeah,' actually, so I presumed that it was okay. And then fortunately the electronic leaderboard showed me where I was, which was quite nice."
Making the cut was Mission No. 1 for the 19-year-old, knowing that low amateur could only happen if he stuck around for 72 holes.
"Making the cut was first priority, really. Then just to push on from there is sort of the thing that I always say when I've played the professional events so far is just make the cut and push on. So, yeah, I made the cut and now I'm trying to move up the leaderboard," said Fitzpatrick.
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HEADING HOME: The rest of the amateur crop will be packing their collective bags on Friday night.
None more heartbreaking than rising Illinois senior Brian Campbell, who went to his 36th hole at 5 over, which was the cut number. Playing the par-3 9th, Campbell ran into trouble and posted a bogey, falling outside the top 60.
The most confounding was Oliver Goss, who had posted a 1-over 71 on Thursday to be in contention for the tournament and not really in the picture for a missed cut. But a front-nine, 12-over 47 derailed the rising Tennessee junior. He started his day with three triple-bogeys and three bogeys on his outgoing nine, while producing eight pars after making the turn.
Brandon McIver, a junior at Oregon, showed much better on Friday, following his 82 with a 74 to keep himself out of the overall basement. Right below him was Will Grimmer (77-80) and Andrew Dorn (79-80). Alabama's Robby Shelton went 78-75 to miss the cut by eight shots, while Maverick McNealy went 74-76 to miss by five.
NCAA individual champion Cameron Wilson had nine three-putts on the week, but did manage an even-par 70 on Friday to finish T-101 at 8 over.
Vanderbilt's Hunter Stewart was in the same boat with Whitsett in missing the cut by one, posting a 1-over 71 on Friday.