The 112th United States Amateur golf tournament saw 310 golfers show up from across the world, to compete for the most prestigious trophy in all of amateur golf. The tournament is being held in the Cherry Hills Village in Colorado with the main attraction – outside of the world class amateur golfers – being Cherry Hills Country Club. Cherry Hills was the site of the 1960 U.S. Open featuring Arnold Palmer’s historic final round 65 to triumph in his first United States Open championship, and third major championship victory. Cherry Hills has witnessed history, and this week it welcomes the top amateur golfers in the nation.
The tournament commenced on Monday morning, with players being split between both Cherry Hills CC and CommonGround Golf Course. The 36 holes stroke play is for players vying for the top 64 places to reach the match play portion of the event. At the conclusion of two rounds of golf, it was Alabama Crimson Tide golfer Bobby Wyatt walking away as the medalist firing scores of 64 (CG)-68 (CH) – 132. Other notables to make the match play were Curtis Thompson (brother of Alexis Thompson) at 138, Chris Williams (#1 Amateur in the world) at 138, Jordan Spieth (Texas Longhorn star) at 138, Justin Thomas (Alabama star) at 139, Patrick Rodgers (Stanford standout) at 141 and Thomas Pieters (2012 NCAA champion) at 143 surviving a playoff. The playoff consisted of 17 players competing for 14 places and was concluded on Wednesday morning and the first round of match play was kicked off in the afternoon.
The afternoon match play featured a mega-match up with the NCAA champ and Belgian Thomas Pieters drawing Jordan Spieth, the Texas Longhorn superstar. The match remained close all day, with Pieters leading throughout most of it. At hole 17, Spieth had a short birdie putt to bring the match to AS. He uncharacteristically missed the 5 footer and ended up losing the match one hole later on the 18th. It was a disappointing exit by the young Spieth, but it is not the last we will hear from him at the national level. He wasn’t the only big name leaving disappointed as 7 seed Curtis Thompson lost on 18 and Derek Ernst lost 3&1 to Gavin Green.
The largest margin of victory was a 7&5 domination by Matthew Stieger of Austrailia over Texas A&M golfer Jad Scott. Of the 32 matches, a whopping 6 of those matches went extra holes, with the marathon matches of the day title going to the matches of Bobby Leopold/Michael Kim and Paul Misko/Kenny Cook going both 20 holes total.
A match to keep an eye on for the round of 32 will be the match of Justin Thomas/Max Homa, two collegiate stars facing off in the second match of the morning. The players are in for a long day, with the winners of the morning matches playing a total of two matches in 12 hours.
The golf course was playing difficult, serving as a test for the best amateurs. Whereas many of these golfers have grown accustomed to throwing bundles of birdies at golf courses, this is a tournament where pars are good and will win holes. With only 32 names left on the board, players to watch out for will be Chris Williams, Patrick Rodgers and Talor Gooch. Gooch, a sophomore to be at Oklahoma State, just won the Oklahoma State Amateur by a total of 12 strokes, finishing with a final round of 62. His hot golf could see him make noise in the weekend of the US Am.
But as we all know, it is completely and utterly ridiculous to attempt to predict golf in this tournament, as the unbelievable and unexpected happens on a yearly basis.
Side note: (The South Dakota qualifier at Bakker Crossing GC in Sioux Falls, SD, Michael Schoolcraft of Engelwood, CO, survived the stroke play portion of the event, but lost in extra holes to his first round competitor Zack Munroe)