JOHNSTOWN, Penn. (June 11, 2017) -- We always look for chances to include Arnold Palmer in AmateurGolf.com's coverage of major tournament golf. The most obvious opportunity comes during the U.S. Amateur. Palmer often described
often described his 1954 U.S. Amateur win at Country Club of Detroit as pivotal in his decision to make a career out of professional golf.
As sad to have lost the legend, we will remember his influence in the competitive amateur game every chance we get. And that's especially easy in Palmer's home state of Pennsylvania, where the Sunnehanna Amateur tees off this week. Arnold Palmer never won the Sunnehanna, but his presence was a big part of the tournament.
Palmer, who is sadly missed around the AmateurGolf.com offices, played the Sunnehanna in 1947 and 1948.
His first appearance at age 18 was uneventful, as an opening-round 79 kept him out the championship round. It was just one setback in a summer which saw him win every amateur golf title in Western Pennsylvania. The next year, however, Palmer advanced to the finals the following year, but faced a player named J.S. Matlack who refused to quit. Palmer would out drive him by more than 50 yards, and hit greens while Matlack struggled to do the same. But Matlack displayed an uncanny short game, pitching in 3-times to win holes.
Arnold Palmer won the Sunnehanna in 1948
Palmer remained eventually won, 2-up, etching his name in the the Sunnehanna Amateur trophy (it was then called the Sunnehanna Invitational) and making it one of his total 26 amateur victories.
Other recent PGA Tour winners who have won the Sunnehanna include Rickie Fowler (2007, 2008); Webb Simpson (2006); Lucas Glover (2001). The latter two with U.S. Opens to their credit, just like Arnold Palmer. Career amateur Nathan Smith, also a Pennsylvanian, with a rare mid-am victory in a summer major in 2011.
This year, the field includes some of the top ranked players in the world
, including Dylan Meyer (No. 1) of Illinois, Sam Burns (No. 2) of LSU, defending champ Collin Morikawa (No. 5) from University of California.
RELATED: Take a drone tour of Sunnehanna Country Club
Morikawa represented USA at the Arnold Palmer Cup, where he was presented with Morikawa was selected by both teams to receive the Arnold Palmer Cup exemption into the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. Players selected the individual from both teams that they think best represents the values that Arnold Palmer exhibited through his life in golf. (And as a really cool sidenote, Nathan Peterson, the Arnold Palmer Cup junior caddie for Morikawa, will also be on the bag at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.)
If Morikawa wants to defend he's going to have to contend with a couple more guys carrying big momentum into Johnstown. Let's start with NCAA Individual champion Braden Thornberry. The Ole Miss standout just finished T4, and not in an amateur tour event -- on the PGA Tour at the Fedex St. Jude Classic.
Also playing is the red hot Derek Bard, a recent graduate of University of Virginia.
Bard, the 2015 Sunnehanna champ, is fresh off a hometown victory Saturday at the Monroe Invitational in New York. He's waiting to turn professional, hoping to move himself up the list of players that get a hard look for the 2017 USA Walker Cup team. (The Walker Cup will be played in September at Los Angeles Country Club.)
"I realize right now I'm kind of on the outside looking in," Bard told AmateurGolf.com after his victory at the Monroe. "I can't worry about that. All I can do is keep focusing on getting better and improving and see how I fall in August."
Scottie Scheffler, the highly decorated player from Texas, had to withdraw so he could attend another event he just qualified for in Wisconsin -- The U.S. Open.
The Sunnehanna Amateur is the second of four events on our "One Epic Summer" tour, where we record drone and player tournaments from the wonderful tournament host courses. It's also included in the AmateurGolf.com Player Rankings and on The Majors of Amateur Golf calendar.
ABOUT THE Sunnehanna Amateur
The Sunnehanna Amateur was inaugurated in
1954 -- it was the first country club
sponsored 72-hole stroke play competition for
in the United States. The
tournament is played on a classic A.W.
design. Only one other amateur
tournament in the United States can list the
Chick Evans, Arnold Palmer, Julius
Boros, Art Wall, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson,
Woods, and Rickie Fowler as
contestants: the United States Amateur. Its
format has been emulated by
countless amateur tournaments across the
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