U.S. Amateur: Medalist, Notables Advance
22 Aug 2007
see also: U.S. Amateur Golf Championship, Riviera Country Club


San Francisco – Jason Kokrak of Warren, Ohio, Colt Knost of Dallas, Texas, Sihwan Kim of Buena Park, Calif., and George Zahringer of New York, N.Y., were among the winners in Wednesday’s first round of match play at the 2007 U.S. Amateur Championship, being played on the Lake Course of The Olympic Club.

Kokrak, 22, the stroke-play medalist who also played in the 2007 U.S. Open, started strong against A.J. Oleksak of Feeding Hill, Mass., who earlier in the day survived a four-hole playoff to earn the last spot in match play. Kokrak figured to be in control with a 4-up advantage after 14 holes.

But Oleksak holed a bunker shot on the 15th and made birdie on the 16th to cut his deficit in half. After the two traded bogeys on the par-4 17th hole, Kokrak advanced with a 2-and-1 victory.

"I tried to not let that affect me too much," said Kokrak of any medalist curse. "I just went out there and tried to play my own game and stick to it and not try to do anything too hasty and get too over anxious and hit driver off a hole that I don't really need to. So I just basically stuck to my game and it seemed to work out pretty well."

The 18-year-old Kim, who won the 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur at Olympic, got off to a quick start against Norway’s Marius Thorp and held a 4-up advantage after five holes. But Thorp chipped away at the lead and cut the deficit to 1 down after a birdie on the 14th hole.

The two halved the next three holes before Kim made a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-4, 414-yard 18th hole to close out Thorp, 1 up.

Kim said his experience on Olympic’s difficult par-70, 6,948-yard Lake Course was beneficial.

"It helps a lot," said Kim. "It gives confidence. And if I just remember what I did in that week, I think I just play a lot better and just try to think of good memories about like specific holes or this whole golf course. I think it helps me a lot."

Knost, who won the U.S. Amateur Public Links last month, never trailed against Jonathan Schram of Buffalo Grove, Ill., en route to a 2-and-1 victory.

The possibility of becoming the sixth golfer to win two USGA championships in the same year is admittedly on his Knost’s mind.

"I actually thought about it before getting here," said Knost of joining Ryan Moore as the second player to win the Amateur and Amateur Public Links in the same year. "It crosses my mind all the time."

Knost was one of three players who will represent the USA at next month’s 2007 Walker Cup Match at Royal County Down Golf Club in Northern Ireland to record first-round victories. The others were Jamie Lovemark, 19, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., who moved on with a 3-and-2 win over Argentina’s Estanislao Goya, and Chris Kirk, 22, of Woodstock, Ga., who advanced with a victory in 19 holes over Joseph Bramlett of Saratoga, Calif., a junior member at Olympic.

Three of their teammates were eliminated. Billy Horschel, 20, of Grant, Fla., was knocked out, 4 and 3, by Derek Ernst of Clovis, Calif., and Webb Simpson, 22, of Raleigh, N.C., fell by the same score to Michael Thompson of Tucson, Ariz. Ricky Jones, 35, of Thomaston, Maine, ousted Dustin Johnson, 23, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., with a 1-up victory.

In a match-up of two past Walker Cuppers, the 54-year-old Zahringer, the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and a member of the 2003 USA team, faced England’s Gary Wolstenholme, 47, a two-time British Amateur champion and six-time Walker Cupper for Great Britain and Ireland.

Neither veteran amateur played particularly well. Despite being eight over par, Zahringer held on for a 1-up victory when Wolstenholme missed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have squared the match.

"It's one of those where it wasn't pretty, but you're delighted and happy to finish on top," said Zahringer, who tied for low-amateur honors at the U.S. Senior Open last month. "It could have gone either way, clearly."

The championship continues with the second and third rounds of match play Thursday. The quarterfinals will be played Friday, the semifinals are Saturday and the 2007 U.S. Amateur concludes with Sunday’s 36-hole final. The winner receives a berth in the 2008 U.S. Open and British Open, and a likely invitation to play in the 2008 Masters Tournament.

The championship is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. The USGA is the national governing body of golf in this country and Mexico, a combined territory that includes more than half the game’s golfers and golf courses.

San Francisco – Results of the first round of match play at the 2007 U.S. Amateur Championship, played Wednesday at the 6,948-yard, par-70 Lake Course at The Olympic Club:

Upper Bracket

Jason Kokrak, Warren, Ohio (137) def. A.J. Oleksak, Agawam, Mass. (147), 2 and 1 Mark Harrell, Hazlehurst, Ga. (144) def. Phil Hendrickson, Danville, Ky. (144), 2 and 1 Chris Kirk, St. Simons Island, Ga. (146) def. Joseph Bramlett, Saratoga, Calif. (142), 19 holes Derek Fathauer, Jensen Beach, Fla. (142) def. Randy Haag, Burlingame, Calif. (145), 1 up Bryce Ledford, Ooltewah, Tenn. (146) def. Daniel Kefale, Woodbridge, Va. (140), 3 and 2 Michael Thompson, Tucson, Ariz. (145) def. Webb Simpson, Raleigh, N.C. (144), 4 and 3 Kyle Stanley, Gig Harbor, Wash. (140) def. Jon Bettencourt, Fresno, Calif. (146), 5 and 3 David McDaniel, Tucson, Ariz. (143) def. James Sacheck, Zionsville, Ind. (145), 1 up Trevor Murphy, St Johnsbury, Vt. (139) def. Josh Anderson, Murrieta, Calif. (147), 20 holes Sihwan Kim, Buena Park, Calif. (144) def. Marius Thorp, Norway (144), 1 up Gene Elliott, West Des Moines, Iowa (141) def. Andy Mickelson, Minooka, Ill. (146), 7 and 6 Eddie Olson, Aptos, Calif. (145) def. Harris English, Thomasville, Ga. (142), 19 holes Casey Clendenon, Houston, Texas (147) def. Danny Lee, New Zealand (140), 1 up Jonathan Hodge, Strawberry Plains, Tenn. (144) def. Craig Smith, Springfield, Tenn. (144), 4 and 3 Chris Kennedy, Sarasota, Fla. (146) def. Kevin Schultz, Richardson, Texas (141) 3 and 2 Andrew Putnam, University Place, Wash. (145) def. Chase Cooper, Guymon, Okla. (143), 21 holes

Lower Bracket

Jon Curran, Hopkinton, Mass. (147) def. Alex Prugh, Spokane, Wash. (138), 19 holes Jhonattan Vegas, Venezuela (144) def. Clifford Blanchard, Tiverton, R.I. (144), 3 and 2 Kyle Dickey, Summerville, S.C. (142) def. Matthew Marshall, Saratoga, Calif. (146), 1 up Nathan Tyler, Tucson, Ariz. (142) def. Chris Rockwell, Owings Mills, Md. (145), 4 and 2 Travis Howe, Osceola, Pa. (146) def. Drew Weaver, High Point, N.C. (141), 4 and 3 Derek Ernst, Clovis, Calif. (144) def. Billy Horschel, Grant, Fla. (145), 4 and 3 Ji Moon, Severna Park, Md. (141) def. Eric Onesi, Bear, Del. (146), 1 up Cheng Tsung Pan, Chinese Taipei (143) def. Jay Moseley, Bainbridge, Ga. (145), 2 and 1 Brendan Gielow, Muskegon, Mich. (147) def. David Merkow, Hartland, Wis. (138), 3 and 2 Colt Knost, Dallas, Texas (144) def. Jonathon Schram, Buffalo Grove, Ill. (144), 2 and 1 George Zahringer, New York, N.Y. (142) def. Gary Wolstenholme, England (146), 1 up Ricky Jones, Thomaston, Maine (142) def. Dustin Johnson, Myrtle Beach, S.C. (145), 1 up Josh Dupont, Poway, Calif. (140) def. Cameron Tringale, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. (147), 19 holes Jamie Lovemark, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. (138) def. Estanislao Goya, Argentina (144), 3 and 2 Nick Taylor, Canada (146) def. Derek Sipe, Yorba Linda, Calif. (141), 5 and 3 Kyle Ellis, Senatobia, Miss. (143) def. Bud Cauley, Jacksonville, Fla. (145), 19 holes

San Francisco – Pairings for the second round of match play Thursday at the 2007 U.S. Amateur Championship, being played at the 6,948-yard, par-70 Lake Course at The Olympic Club:

Upper Bracket

7:00 a.m. Jason Kokrak, Warren, Ohio (137) vs. Mark Harrell, Hazlehurst, Ga. (144) 7:10 a.m. Chris Kirk, St. Simons Island, Ga. (146) vs. Derek Fathauer, Jensen Beach, Fla. (142) 7:20 a.m. Bryce Ledford, Ooltewah, Tenn. (146) vs. Michael Thompson, Tucson, Ariz. (145) 7:30 a.m. Kyle Stanley, Gig Harbor, Wash. (140) vs. David McDaniel, Tucson, Ariz. (143) 7:40 a.m. Trevor Murphy, St Johnsbury, Vt. (139) vs. Sihwan Kim, Buena Park, Calif. (144) 7:50 a.m. Gene Elliott, West Des Moines, Iowa (141) vs. Eddie Olson, Aptos, Calif. (145) 8:00 a.m. Casey Clendenon, Houston, Texas (147) vs. Jonathan Hodge, Strawberry Plains, Tenn. (144) 8:10 a.m. Chris Kennedy, Sarasota, Fla. (146) vs. Andrew Putnam, University Place, Wash. (145)

Lower Bracket

8:20 a.m. Jon Curran, Hopkinton, Mass. (147) vs. Jhonattan Vegas, Venezuela (144) 8:30 a.m. Kyle Dickey, Summerville, S.C. (142) vs. Nathan Tyler, Tucson, Ariz. (142) 8:40 a.m. Travis Howe, Osceola, Pa. (146) vs. Derek Ernst, Clovis, Calif. (144) 8:50 a.m. Ji Moon, Severna Park, Md. (141) vs. Cheng Tsung Pan, Chinese Taipei (143) 9:00 a.m. Brendan Gielow, Muskegon, Mich. (147) vs. Colt Knost, Dallas, Texas (144) 9:10 a.m. George Zahringer, New York, N.Y. (142) vs. Ricky Jones, Thomaston, Maine (142) 9:20 a.m. Josh Dupont, Poway, Calif. (140) vs. Jamie Lovemark, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. (138) 9:30 a.m. Nick Taylor, Canada (146) vs. Kyle Ellis, Senatobia, Miss. (143)

ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur

The U.S. Amateur, the oldest USGA championship, was first played in 1895 at Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island. The event, which has no age restriction, is open to those with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent amateur competition in the world. Applications are typically placed online, starting the third week in April at www.usga.org.

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