Top amateur golf moments of 2018, No. 7: Mid-major
Kevin O'Connell (Photo illustration)
Kevin O'Connell (Photo illustration)

At, we admit to loving the amateur sector of this game for the stories, the depth of the players, the remarkable courses, the history of the tournaments and the sheer love of the game displayed by amateur golfers. As 2018 comes to a close, we’ve gathered the year’s best stories for a countdown to the end of the season. Be sure to come back each day to relive the moments that made amateur golf great this year.

Click here to see the whole list as it is revealed

It is extremely rare for a mid-amateur to win in a field of amateurs. Kevin O’Connell, 30, beat those odds in June when he earned a breakthrough victory at the Monroe Invitational. It was the first time the former University of North Carolina player had won a title since high school.

And it opened the door for another big one.

O’Connell made an inspiring run to the U.S. Mid-Amateur title in September in his home state of North Carolina. The Cary, N.C., native battled through the match-play bracket, eventually beating hometown hero Brett Boner in the final match. Masters, U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur starts will follow in 2019, and those are just the highlights.

O’Connell’s story is so interesting because if he hadn’t won the Mid-Amateur, he would have been on his way to European Tour Qualifying School a week later. In his early 20s, O’Connell had tried and failed to qualify for the PGA Tour three times, but later in life, wanted to give it another shot.

“It’s been a really interesting thing mentally because when we started, we were obviously talking about how I was going to Europe,” O’Connell said shortly after the Mid-Amateur. “All of a sudden that’s taken off the table. 2019 is just a completely different scene altogether for me.”

The reinstated amateur went all in on golf in 2018, and his success showed that. He laments the fact that he never won a college tournament, but this seems to be his second shot. Regardless, O’Connell can vouch for the fact that it never gets any easier.

“A lot of work goes into it, even at the mid-amateur level,” he said after winning the Monroe. “It takes a lot to win, all the players are so good, all the college kids coming out now. I would say that the fields are deeper even compared to how they were ten years ago.”

ABOUT THE The Monroe Invitational

The Monroe Invitational is held at Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, NY, and is one of the oldest amateur tournaments in the United States, dating back to its first playing in 1937. The course is a Donald Ross design that is a Golfweek Top 100 Classic Course. The tournament is a 72 hole stroke play event with a 54 hole cut. Invitations are sent out to exempt players in early February, but the Tournament Committee would encourage any interested players to apply for a non-exempt invitation through the tournament website.

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