Devon Bling during the 2018 U.S. Amateur (USGA photo)
The U.S. Amateur field represents the very best golfers on the amateur circuit. At the beginning of the week, 312 players get a shot at two rounds of stroke play to prove they fall within the top 64 in the world. Then it’s on to match play.
We scanned the tee sheet for the first two rounds of stroke play, and offer these 10 groupings to keep a particularly close eye on at Pinehurst Nos. 2 and 4.
PH 4 signifies course No. 4 while PH 2 signifies course No. 2. Play will start from Nos. 1 and 11 on course No. 2, and from Nos. 1 and 9 on course No. 4.
PH 4 – 7:25 a.m. (No. 9) / PH 2 – 12:40 p.m. (No. 1): Devon Bling, Michael Thorbjornsen, Noah Norton
These three players logged some notable major championship experience this past year. UCLA’s Bling returns this week as the U.S. Amateur runner-up, a finish that scored him, among other things, a Masters invitation and U.S. Open exemption. He made a hole-in-one during the Masters Par 3 contest. Michael Thorbjornsen, the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, made the cut at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and though Norton didn’t, the Northern California native (and Georgia Tech player) still had an all-time week playing on the biggest stage in a familiar setting.
PH 4 – 8:06 a.m. (No. 1) / PH 2 – 1:21 p.m. (No. 11): Quade Cummins, Alex Smalley, Matthias Schmid
Three tough college players here, and all three have logged a major tournament win over the summer. Cummins, who will be a redshirt senior at Oklahoma, got his at the Pacific Coast Amateur. Duke grad Smalley defended his title in June at the Sunnehanna and Schmid, a German who plays for Louisville, got a breakthrough victory at the European Amateur.
PH 2 – 8:07 a.m. (No. 1) / PH 4 – 1:22 p.m. (No. 9): Daniel Hillier, Austin Eckroat, Chandler Eaton
Here are three understated players you can’t overlook. A year ago, Hillier, a New Zealander, was the stroke-play co-medalist at Pebble Beach, only to bow out in the second round of match play. Expect to hear a lot more from Eckroat in the coming season as he picks up the torch at Oklahoma State. He’ll be a junior on a team facing a rebuilding season. As for Duke’s Eaton, a made cut at the U.S. Open should inspire plenty of confidence.
PH 2 – 8:39 a.m. (No. 1) / PH 4 – 1:54 p.m. (No. 9): Ricky Castillo, Euan Walker, Chandler Phillips
Castillo has demonstrated major game of late, co-medaling at the U.S. Junior then playing his way to the semifinals at the Western Amateur. There are big things ahead for the incoming Florida freshman. On the other end of his college career, Texas A&M grad Chandler Phillips is likely hoping for big things this week as he closes out his amateur career and tries to get on the U.S. Walker Cup team. Scotland’s Walker is also on the Walker Cup watch, but for GB&I. As runner-up at the Amateur Championship and the European Amateur, he’s in the conversation to get a pick.
PH 2 – 9:09 a.m. (No. 11) / PH 4 – 2:24 p.m. (No. 1): Cole Hammer, Conor Gough, David Micheluzzi
This tournament-tested group is highlighted by Cole Hammer, the 2018 Western Amateur winner who was a semifinalist at this championship a year ago (also, the stroke-play co-medalist). Gough, an Englishman, is fresh off winning the English Amateur and Australian Micheluzzi has a long 2019 highlight reel including a runner-up finish at the Western Australia Open (a pro event) and a semifinals run at the Amateur Championship.
PH 2 – 9:30 a.m. (No. 11) / PH 4 – 2:45 p.m. (No. 1):Spencer Ralston, Garrett Rank, William Mouw
What a summer it has been for Spencer Ralston, winner of the Players Amateur; Garrett Rank, winner of the Western Amateur; and William Mouw, winner of the California Amateur.
PH 4 – 1:11 p.m. (No. 1) / PH 2 – 7:56 a.m. (No. 11):Austin Squires, Alex Fitzpatrick, Isaiah Salinda
All three of these players made quarterfinal runs at Pebble Beach last year. Squires, who recently finished his career at Cincinnati, and Fitzpatrick, a Wake Forest sophomore, went out in that round, but Salinda, a recent Stanford graduate, continued into the semifinals. Salinda is hoping for a Walker Cup pick, and Fitzpatrick is on the short list for the GB&I team.
PH 2 – 1:43 (No. 1) / PH 4 – 8:28 a.m. (No. 9):Preston Summerhays, Kevin O’Connell, Jeff Wilson
All three players in this group know what it feels like to hoist a USGA trophy. Summerhays, 16, did it most recently at the U.S. Junior Amateur last month. O’Connell continues his dream year as the reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and Wilson, the 56-year-old U.S. Senior Amateur champion is sneaky long and will be sneaky tough against the kids this week. If he gets to match play (which isn’t out of the question), he’d be a tough, tough draw for an opponent of any age.
PH 4 – 12:51 p.m. (No. 9) / PH 2 – 7:36 a.m. (No. 1):Cameron Young, Jovan Rebula, Spencer Tibbits
South African Rebula, who plays for Auburn, enter this championship with a wealth of experiences – most notably, a Masters start – after spending his past year as the winner of the R&A’s Amateur Championship. Young, a recent Wake Forest graduate, clearly found something in his game this spring, as evidenced by three second-semester individual college titles. Oregon State’s Tibbits was among the few collegians to run the U.S. Open qualifying gauntlet for a start at Pebble Beach in June.
PH 2 – 2:25 p.m. (No. 1) / PH 4 – 9:10 a.m. (No. 9):Takumi Kanaya, Akshay Bhatia, Chun An Yu
Lotta stamps in these passports. Kanaya has reaped the benefits of being the reigning Asia-Pacific Amateur champion in 2019, most notably making the cut at the Masters to get four rounds at Augusta National (he finished 58th). Recent starts include the Open Championship, and before that, the European Amateur, a tournament in which North Carolina native Bhatia finished in the top 10. It was part of Bhatia’s European golf odyssey before he plans to turn professional after the Walker Cup. As for Yu, the Taiwan native and Arizona State senior started his year with a bang by winning the Australian Master of the Amateurs before returning to Tempe.
This story will be updated with full tee times and pairings when available...
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
which has no age restriction, is open to
with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is
of 14 national championships conducted
annually by the USGA, 10 of which are
for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent
competition in the world.
Applications are typically placed online in the spring
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