U.S. Amateur Preview: Historic Atlanta Athletic Club opens its doors
-Story by Rory Sharrock and Conner Penfold

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. (August 10, 2014) — Nestled quietly in the Northern outskirts of Atlanta, Johns Creek is a quaint community where local residents enjoy scenic imagery and the familiarity of neighborhood staples.

However, for a seven-day period from August 11 through the 17, the normally low-key area will be transformed into an epicenter of golf with top players from across the globe converging in town for the 2014 U.S. Amateur Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.

This signature USGA event features a field of 312 players competing in stroke play for the first two days. From there, the field will be cut to the low 64 scorers. Afterwards, there will be six rounds of match play beginning August 13. The tournament concludes with a 36-hole championship tilt on Sunday, August 17.

A tournament of this magnitude requires a venue with a unique setting fit for the sport’s top amateurs. With its superb layout and deep- rooted historical ties as the former home of Bobby Jones, Atlanta Athletic Club is the ideal place to host this marquee event. Although this year marks the first time the U.S. Amateur will be played at the club, this site is no stranger to hosting primetime competitions. Among the top- flight tournaments held on these grounds include the U.S. Open (1976), PGA Championship (1981, 2001 and 2011), U.S. Women’s Open (1990) and U.S. Junior Amateur (2002).

“It means a lot for us to host the U.S. Amateur Championship because of the history and tradition of our club,” said Kevin Carroll, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer at Atlanta Athletic Club. “We’ve had a number of amateur tournaments here and we have strong ties to the USGA. We take pride in welcoming people here and to Johns Creek.”

There will be herds of players traveling from multiple states and countries for the U.S. Amateur Championship, including six of the top- 10 amateurs according to the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Player Rankings.

Corey Conners
Canada's top-ranked player Corey Conners is coming off a second place finish in the Canadian Amateur, and will be a favorite this week considering his semifinal appearance in last year's event. The 22-year-old former Kent State University golfer was a three- time All-MAC selection and was co-player of the year in the MAC in the 2013-2014 season — his senior year.

The highest ranked player from the United States in the field is University of South Carolina senior Will Murphy, who is having a spectacular year including winning at prestigious amateur events like the Azalea Invitational and the Sunnehanna Amateur.

Beau Hossler
Right behind Murphy in the rankings is Mission Viejo, Calif. native Beau Hossler, who has had a week and a half break since capturing the Western Amateur. The soon-to-be sophomore at the University of Texas made a name for himself by making the cut at the age of 17 at the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club, which had not been done since World War II.

The youngest player in the field is 13-year-old Will Thomson of Pittsford, N.Y. Thomson qualified for his first USGA event by medaling at the Mendon, N.Y. sectional qualifier with rounds of 66 and 68, and has been playing fantastic golf of late, including a ten-shot win at the 2013 New York State Boys' Amateur and a Porter Cup appearance.

Zander Lombard
Two of South Africa's top amateurs will be at Atlanta Athletic Club, including No. 4 in the world Zander Lombard. The 19-year-old was runner-up at this year's British Amateur and was the first South African since Trevor Immelman in 1997 to reach the tournament's final match.

The last two U.S. Amateur Public Links champions are present in Johns Creek as Jordan Niebrugge (2013) and Byron Meth (2014) will compete in this year's event. Niebrugge was part of the United States' 2013 Walker Cup winning team and had a stellar 2013 season, winning three other events to go along with his U.S. Public Links victory, including the Western Amateur and Wisconsin State Amateur.

Nathan Smith
The nation's best mid-amateur Nathan Smith will be playing in his fifth consecutive U.S. Amateur. Smith became the first golfer to win four U.S. Mid-Amateurs with his title in 2012. He had previously won the event in 2003, 2009, and 2010. Smith has also been a member of three consecutive Walker Cup teams.

This year’s tournament also has its share of homegrown talent with 16 Georgia residents teeing off in their backyard. Three of these Peach State heroes are listed on Golfweek/amateurgolf.com’s top-100 player rankings, including Seth Reeves (13), Oliver Schniederjans (28), and Jimmy Beck (60).

Seth Reeves
“This is the biggest amateur event. This is my third time playing in this tournament. Whether you’ve earned an exemption or went through qualifying, it’s special to be here. The fact it’s in my hometown adds to the excitement too,” said Reeves, a former Georgia Tech golfer who is competing in his final event as an amateur before turning pro later this month. “I’ve played Atlanta Athletic Club. Highlands is a great test. Every single hole is challenging. Riverside is a great secondary course. There’s always drama in this tournament and this should be one of the best amateurs ever.”

The Highlands Course, which will host the 18 holes of the stroke play and the entire match play portion of the event, will set up at 7,490/7,428 yards and play to a par of 35-36-71. The Riverside Course will split the 36 holes of stroke play and is stretched out to 7,381 yards and play to a par 36-36-72.

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 14 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 in the spring at www.usga.org.

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