BROOKLINE, Mass. (Aug. 14, 2013) -- Over the winter, Jordan Niebrugge re-evaluated his goals as they relate to the game of golf.
It was at that point, he realized that a spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team was there for the taking.
Just days away from the final announcement of Walker Cup selections, it appears the Oklahoma State sophomore is right on schedule despite losing his first-round match at the U.S. Amateur to Georgia Tech’s Seth Reeves on Wednesday.
After all, it was the first loss of any kind the red-hot Wisconsin native has experienced on the links in quite some time.
Niebrugge seemingly came out of nowhere last month to win the U.S. Amateur Public Links title. He won the very next week at the Wisconsin State Amateur Championships. He made it three wins in three weeks just a few days later at the prestigious Western Amateur --- considered the hardest amateur golf event to win thanks to its 72-hole stroke-play qualifier for just 16 match play berths.
The wins, of course, came as a surprise to most. Niebrugge hadn’t been on any radars prior to the Public Links. Despite earning honorable mention All-American honors, Niebrugge wasn’t considered a contender.
“I actually played really well this spring and gained a lot of confidence,” he said.
Re-evaluating his goals over the winter was part one of his journey. Part two, of course, has been the translation of hard work and talent onto the course, against some of the top fields the amateur game has to offer, no less.
“At the Sunnehanna, Mr. (Walker Cup captain Jim) Holtgrieve was talking about the tournaments that were important,” Niebrugge said. “I realized I was there in every tournament so I thought to myself that if I play well, you never know what’s going to happen.”
For Niebrugge, there’s one reason he’s experienced so much success recently.
“I’ve always been a really good ball striker,” he said. “I hit a lot of fairways and greens. The difference has been my short game. I’ve saved a lot of shots and made four or five-footers for par during this run.”
Now, Niebrugge is under strong consideration to make the Walker Cup team. Depending on who ultimately wins this week at the U.S. Amateur (the champion earns a berth on the Walker Cup team), there are either two or three non-mid amateur spots available. With four of the five initial Walker Cup selections failing to reach match play at The Country Club, it appears Niebrugge did nothing to lessen his chances of being named to the U.S. squad despite losing in the Round of 64.
In fact, the way he battled may have only improved those chances. He battled the elements, including some tough wind conditions, a rough front nine and an unrelenting opponent before losing on the 18th hole.
“To be able to knock him off is great,” Reeves said. “In my eyes he’s the hottest player in the world right now. He’s an incredible match play player.
“It’s huge, I feel like I can put this in my back pocket for when things get tough because this was a grind and it was a huge win for me.”