AURORA, Colo. (July 16, 2008)--Teenagers Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, Calif., and Cody Paladino of Kensington, Conn., each won first round matches Wednesday at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. As a result, they also won the chance to face each other in the second round of match play at Murphy Creek Golf Course.
Fowler is the top-ranked amateur, fresh off finishing 60th in this summer’s U.S. Open, while Paladino is last year’s APL runner-up. Fowler won his first match over Michael Knott of Buffalo, N.Y., 4 & 2. Paladino made a birdie on the third extra hole to edge Philip Choi of Orlando.
Play continues through Saturday’s scheduled 36-hole championship final, with the winner earning an invitation to play in the 2009 Masters Tournament.
“It’s hard to draw the top amateur in the second round,” said Paladino. “It seems like we should be meeting on a bigger stage than the second round. It will feel like a final to me, that’s for sure.
“I’ve never played him before, but I’m happy to get the chance to play against him. I’d rather play the best player than to hope that I don’t draw him. I am always thinking I can win, especially when it’s match play.”
Other first round winners were Billy Horschel, 21, of Gainesville, Fla., a member of the victorious 2007 USA Walker Cup team with Fowler, and Dan Whitaker, 27, of Cle Elum, Wash., the 2007 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up. Whitaker is the oldest player remaining in the field.
In all, 32 players advanced to Thursday’s second round. Kevin Foley, 21, of Somerville, N.J., undoubtedly played the best in the first round. He was the equivalent of 6-under-par for 11 holes in breezing to an 8-and-7 win over Canada’s Greg Pool. Foley’s college teammate at Penn State, Robert Rohanna, 22, of Waynesburg, Pa., also advanced with a 4-and-2 decision. Last year’s quarterfinalist Corey Nagy, 19, of Charlotte, N.C., stayed alive with a 4-and-2 decision in his favor, but qualifying medalist Aaron Goldberg was upset by Canada’s Brady Johnson, 5 and 4.
Pat Grady, 22, of Broomfield, Colo., won his match, but his older brother, Jim, lost to Riley Arp, 20, of Fort Collins, Colo. The youngest player to advance is Patrick Lundy, 18, of Little River, S.C., who is a home-schooled high school senior.
The U.S. Amateur Public Links is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.