Western Amateur: 'Masters of Amateur Golf' on tap
Jordan Niebrugge
Jordan Niebrugge
From The Western Golf Association

GOLF, Illinois (July 24, 2014) – Whether they have been playing PGA Tour events, major championships or prestigious amateur tournaments, it has been a busy summer for players who will compete in the upcoming 112th Western Amateur at The Beverly Country Club, July 28-Aug. 2, on Chicago’s southwest side.

The 156-man field features 50 of the world’s top 100 players, including 21 of the top 37, giving the Western Amateur the highest concentration of elite-level players of any event in the amateur game. Here’s what some of them have been up to this summer:

Earlier this month, defending Western Amateur champion Jordan Niebrugge made the most of a sponsor exemption he received at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic, finishing in a tie for 27th with an aggregate score of 10-under par at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. In April, he played in the Masters.

University of Iowa sophomore Raymond Knoll, 18, of Naperville, Ill., also played the John Deere Classic after he earned co-medalist honors at that event’s Monday qualifier. Though he missed the cut against the pros, Knoll went on to win the Illinois State Amateur on July 17 in a four-hole playoff against incoming Illinois freshman Nick Hardy of Northbrook, Ill. Hardy earned his spot in the Western Amateur field earlier this summer by coming in second at the Western Junior at Flossmoor Country Club.

Taiwan native Cheng-tsung Pan, a two-time Western Amateur medalist (2009 and 2010), competed in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool GC in Hoylake, England. It was the first time the University of Washington standout had played the British Open but was his second appearance in a major championship. Pan made the cut at the 2013 U.S. Open.

University of Texas freshman Doug Ghim of Arlington Heights, Ill. and University of the Pacific’s Byron Meth of San Diego tied for medalist honors at the U.S. Public Links then wound up facing one another in the 36-hole match play finals in July. Meth won on the 37th hole, earning a spot in next year’s Masters. Earlier in match play, Ghim narrowly got by Niebrugge, the event’s defending champion.

Alabama sophomore Robby Shelton played in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst after having helped lead the Crimson Tide to the national championship, going undefeated in match play in that event.

Stewart Jolly, a senior at LSU, won the Northeast Amateur by two shots over Niebrugge. South Africa’s Zander Lombard finished runner-up at the British Amateur while Gerardo Ruiz of Mexico won the World University in Switzerland by two strokes over Malaysia’s Gavin Green, a senior to be at New Mexico.

Michael Cromie, a member of the University of Georgia golf team, won the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst, thereby becoming the first player to win that event and the North & South Junior. Oregon State senior-to-be Alex Franklin was runner-up at the weather-shortened Trans-Miss Am, and Cal State Fullerton’s Mark Anguiano won the Sahalee Players in Washington. Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent, a senio at Virginia Tech, won the Players Am in South Carolina over defending champion Hunter Stewart.

Scottie Scheffler finished third at the Northeast Amateur not long after the 17-year-old freshman-to-be at Texas finished 22nd at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, his first PGA Tour event.

And then there is China’s Tianlang Guan, who at 14 years old made the cut at the 2013 Masters. Guan will be making his first appearance at the Western Amateur after finishing T-28 at the Callaway Junior World on July 18 at Torrey Pines GC near San Diego.

Niebrugge, of Mequon, Wisconsin, will defend the Western Amateur title he won last August at The Alotian Club in Little Rock, Ark.

A junior at Oklahoma State, Niebrugge will have his work cut out for him when it comes to defending his title.

“The Western Golf Association is honored and excited to host the world’s finest amateur golfers at one of America’s most storied championship courses – The Beverly Country Club — in our home market of Chicago,” said Vince Pellegrino, senior vice president of tournaments for the WGA.

“As always, we are confident this year’s Western Amateur will be a highly competitive and entertaining championship, and likely will provide a glimpse into tomorrow’s PGA TOUR,” Pellegrino said. “We invite everyone to come out to see many of the game’s top college players and the future stars.” Admission is free.

The University of Illinois has three other golfers in the field, All-Americans Brian Campbell and Charlie Danielson, and incoming freshman Dylan Meyer of Evansville, Ind. In addition, 2013 Illinois State Amateur champion Tee-K Kelly of Wheaton – and Ohio State – will be in the field.

Western Junior champion KK Limbhasut of Loma Linda, Calif., also is in the field on the strength of his June 20 victory at Flossmoor.

The international field already includes players from 17 countries, including a dozen from Australia, by far the largest foreign contingent. Players from Argentina, China, Colombia, England, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe also have committed.

"The quality and depth of the Western Amateur field always is strong and deep, and we are pleased to be able to maintain the same level of excellence again this year,” Pellegrino said. “Beverly is a classic Donald Ross course, and we expect the best amateurs in the world to embrace the challenge it presents.”

ABOUT THE Western Amateur (Match Play)

Invitational event, known to many as the 'Masters of Amateur Golf.' Quite probably the hardest amateur tournament to win.

156 invited players come from across the globe to play one of the toughest formats in amateur golf. The tournament starts with 18 holes of stroke play on Tuesday and Wednesday after which the field is cut to the low 44 scores and ties. Thursday it's a long day of 36 holes of stroke play to determine the “Sweet Sixteen” who compete at Match Play on Friday and Saturday (two matches each day if you're going to the finals) to decide the champion.

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