NORMAN, Oklahoma (July 14, 2009) -- Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, British Columbia is on a roll this summer, and his solid play has continued at the USGA Public Links Championship, being played at the par-71, 7,289-yard Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club. He took Medalist honors in the stroke play qualifying portion of the event, shooting 4-under 136.
Taylor, No. 4 in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com World Amateur Rankings, is coming off a recent win at the Sahalee Players Championship, and a low-amateur finish (and T36 overall) at the US Open in New York. A win here would gain him a place in the Masters.
Defending Champion Jack Newman of Iowa was among a group of 8 players who shot 150 and missed a playoff by a single shot when the "number" came at exactly 64 players who shot 149 or better. Newman, who opened with a 7-over 78, came back with a 72 on Tuesday to give himself a chance.
Tied for 2nd at 140 was a group of players that include World No. 2 Rickie Fowler of California, Nick Geyer of New Mexico, and Jace Long of Missouri.
Taylor was in the first group off the tee at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and took advantage of benign early conditions before the swirling winds and 100-degree temperatures battered the field throughout the day.
“The wind picked up after seven or eight holes,” said Taylor. “What made it tough was the ball was spinning a little more in the wind and it was tough to get back at the holes. The wind definitely made it a little tougher.”
Taylor enters the match-play portion of the championship as the No. 1 seed.
He faces Craig Cyr, 25, of Concord, N.H., the 64th seed after shooting 7-over-par 149.
Taylor finished four strokes ahead of Rickie Fowler, 20, of Murrieta, Calif., who entered the championship as one of the players to watch. He was in contention for medalist honors with Taylor until a quadruple-bogey 8 at the 505-yard par-4 eighth hole (his 17th hole of the day). He birdied his final hole to finish at 2-under 140. Fowler, a member of the 2007 USA Walker Cup team who recently completed his sophomore year at Oklahoma State University, attracted the largest galleries of the championship so far.
“Medalist would have been great,” said Fowler. “But I struggled making some putts and then the eight put a damper on that.”
Fowler, a two-time All-America and 2008 winner of the Ben Hogan Award as the top collegiate golfer in America, recently confirmed speculation that he intends to turn professional later this summer, following the Walker Cup Match at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., Sept. 12-13.
“If it wasn’t for the Walker Cup, I’d probably be turning pro earlier,” said Fowler. “I definitely want to play the Walker Cup again because it’s one of the most fun things I’ve done with golf.”
Fowler was joined at two under par by Nick Geyer, 21, of Albuquerque, N.M., and Jace Long, 19, of Dixon, Mo.
Notable golfers who advanced to match play included Sean Knapp, 47, of Oakmont, Pa., who is a playing in his 24th USGA championship but his first Amateur Public Links, 2008 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Cameron Peck, 18, of Olympia, Wash., and the University of Oklahoma coach-player duo of Philip Bryan and Liam Logan.
Bryan, 23, of Norman, Okla., is the assistant golf coach at Oklahoma and Logan, 20, of Fort Worth, Texas, will be a junior this fall at the university, which operates the golf course where the championship is being conducted.
Notable golfers who failed to qualify included defending champion Jack Newman, 21, of Des Moines, Iowa, who missed the cut by one stroke, 2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links runner-up John Chin, 22, of Temecula, Calif., 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur Champion Sihwan Kim, 20, of Korea, and 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Steve Wilson, 39, of Ocean Springs, Miss.
The U.S. Amateur Public Links, established in 1922 for bona fide public course players as of Jan. 1, 2009, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Second part of story written by David Normoyle, USGA. Contact him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.