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Players to Watch at the 2019 U.S. Amateur
The 312-player field for the 119th U.S. Amateur Championship is set, and players will tee it up at Pinehurst (No. 2 and No. 4) as stroke play begins on Monday with the biggest title in amateur golf in the balance.

It is a Walker Cup year, and so American players will have extra incentive to make deep runs and impress U.S. captain Nathaniel Crosby.

Related: FINAL: U.S. Amateur qualifying roundup

This year's championship should be wide open, and although it would not be surprising to see an out-of-nowhere winner, here are some of the key players to watch:

Akshay Bhatia
Akshay Bhatia
Akshay Bhatia, 17, of Wake Forest, N.C., is one of the best junior golfers in recent U.S. history, and is so bullish on his prospects that he plans to turn professional this fall as a teenager. Among his many junior accomplishments were back-to-back Junior PGA titles (he shot 61 in the first one and chipped in on the final hole to win the second), as well as wins in the Sage Valley Junior, the Rolex TOC, the Polo Junior Glf Classic (by 10 shots), and the Dustin Johnson Junior. He also earned his first major amateur title with a playoff victory at the Jones Cup early in the year. Bhatia has already been named to the United States Walker Cup team on the basis of his World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Ricky Castillo
Ricky Castillo
Ricky Castillo, 18, of Yorba Linda, Calif., comes into the U.S. Amateur in great form and with good memories of Pinehurst. The former No. 1 ranked junior made a run all the way to the semifinals of last week's Western Amateur, and earlier this summer he was the medalist and a quarterfinalist at the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst. This will be his third U.S. Amateur appearance, having first qualified in 2015 at the age of 14, and making the second round of match play at Riviera in 2017.

Pierceson Coody
Pierceson Coody
Pierceson Coody, 19, of Plano, Texas, has made a rapid rise up the rankings this year, culminating with a convincing win at the Trans-Mississippi Championship. He also won the South Beach International Amateur at the end of 2018. Coody got a good look at Pinehurst at the North & South Amateur this summer, making the Round of 32. Pierceson and his twin brother Parker helped lead the University of Texas to a runner-up finish in the NCAA Championship and both are in the field at Pinehurst. Their grandfather, Charles Coody, won the 1971 Masters.

Quade Cummins
Quade Cummins
Quade Cummins, 23, of Weatherford, Okla., comes into U.S. Amateur week on the heels of a 4-shot win at the Pacific Coast Amateur and a Final 16 finish at the Western Amateur. Cummins was a PING All-American at the University of Oklahoma and won the Sun Bowl All-America Classic. He was a runner-up in last year's Sunnehanna Amateur and finished 5th in this year's tournament. He was also the runner-up in the Patriot All-America Classic. Ranked World No. 7, he is playing in his second straight U.S. Amateur after qualifying for Pebble Beach last year.

Steven Fisk
Steven Fisk
Steven Fisk, 22, of Stockbridge, Ga., racked up the awards following his senior season at Georgia Southern University, earning First-Team All-America honors and being named one of three finalists for the Haskins Award. He won six tournaments in his senior season, and his scoring average of 69.03 ranks as the sixth-lowest in NCAA Division I history. He has to be a strong consideration for a Walker Cup berth, but he hasn't played many events this summer, though he did finish 8th in the Players Amateur and T34 on the Korn Ferry Tour's Lincoln Land Charity Championship.

Stewart Hagestad
Stewart Hagestad
Stewart Hagestad, 28, of Newport Beach, Calif., won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship by defeating Scott Harvey in 37 holes and was a member of the winning 2017 USA Walker Cup Team. Hagestad was the low amateur in the 2017 Masters Tournament (tying for 36th) and this year became the first player in 34 years to open qualify for three straight U.S. Opens. He has come very close to winning some major golf tournaments this summer, finishing runner-up in the Northeast and Players Amateurs. Hagestad has already been named to his second straight Walker Cup team on the basis of his World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Cole Hammer
Cole Hammer
Cole Hammer, 19, of Houston, Texas, had a breakout year in 2018, winning the Western and Azalea Amateurs (as well as the U.S. Four-Ball with Garrett Barber) and making the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach, losing to eventual champion Viktor Hovland. Hammer, who was the third-youngest player to compete in a U.S. Open when he played at Chambers Bay in 2015, helped the Texas Longhorns reach the final match of the NCAA Championship, narrowly losing to Stanford in the final. He has played a light summer schedule, but did finish 4th in the Northeast Amateur, and has already been named to the Walker Cup team on the basis of his WAGR ranking.

David Micheluzzi
David Micheluzzi
David Micheluzzi, 23, of Australia, comes into the U.S. Amateur as the highest-ranked Australian (No. 4) in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Ranking. Micheluzzi's breakthrough win was in the 2018 Australian Master of the Amateurs, which he followed up with a runner-up in the Australian Amateur. He has made several starts on the Australian pro tour, and finished 5th in that country's biggest event, the Australian Open. His game has traveled well, with runs to the quarters and semis of the last two British Amateurs, and a third-place finish in the Scottish Open.

Noah Norton
Noah Norton
Noah Norton, 20, of Chico, Calif., had a good run at the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst earlier this summer, reaching the final before falling to Cooper Dossey. He made it to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, earning medalist honors in both the local and sectional qualifiers. He then finished 5th at the Porter Cup and 8th at the Players Amateur. Norton is a two-time All-ACC performer at Georgia Tech, with an impressive 71.43 career stroke average. Two years ago he made the Final 16 at the U.S. Amateur at Riviera.

John Pak
John Pak
John Pak, 20, of Scotch Players, N.J., is enjoying an ascendant 2019 in which he won three tournaments at Florida State including the ACC Championship, earning him First-Team All-American and All-ACC honors among others. He established the single-year scoring average record at Florida State, shooting 69.56 as a sophomore. Pak comes in to the U.S. Amateur in good form, with several high finishes in major amateur tournaments this summer, including a runner-up at the Porter Cup and top-10s in the Sunnehanna, Players and Western Amateurs.

Spencer Ralston
Spencer Ralston
Spencer Ralston, 22, of Gainesville, Ga., had a breakthrough win at the Players Amateur last month, firing a final-round 63 to overtake leader Stewart Hagestad. He is playing in his fourth straight U.S. Amateur. A rising senior at the University of Georgia, Ralston was an All-SEC selection and was chosen as an Honorable Mention All-American by PING and the Golf Coaches Association of America. Ralston was 5th at the Dogwood Invitational, 8th at the Jones Cup and made the quarterfinals of last year's Western Amateur.

Garrett Rank
Garrett Rank
Garrett Rank, 31, of Canada, is competing in his eighth U.S. Amateur championship. In 2016-17, Rank became a full-time official in the National Hockey League after working for several years in the American Hockey League. Rank, who overcame a cancer scare at age 23, is coming off his biggest win, defeating Matt Wetterich in the final match of the Western Amateur. In so doing, he became the first mid-amateur to win there in 20 years. Rank was the runner-up in the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur and has advanced to at least to the quarterfinals with partner Patrick Christovich in three consecutive U.S. Amateur Four-Balls (2016-18). He is currently No. 1 in the AmateurGolf.com Mid-Amateur Rankings.

Isaiah Salinda
Isaiah Salinda
Isaiah Salinda, 22, of South San Francisco, Calif., made it to the semifinals of last year's U.S. Amateur, which was the first USGA championship he had ever played. The 2018 Pacific Coast Amateur champion helped lead the Stanford Cardinal to a National Championship, beating Cole Hammer of Texas 4 and 3 in the final. He finished 6th individually in the NCAAs after winning the Southwest Regional. Like a few other top players, he has played a very light summer schedule, finishing 15th in his title defense at the Pacific Coast Am.

Alex Smalley
Alex Smalley
Alex Smalley, 22, of Wake Forest, N.C., is competing in his fourth consecutive U.S. Amateur, and was the stroke-play medalist in 2016. Earlier this summer he pulled off the rare feat of winning his second straight Sunnehanna Amateur. Smalley, Duke University graduate, earned both All-East Region and All-Atlantic Coast Conference recognition for the third straight year. He is very familiar with the courses at Pinehurst, having made the final 32 in each of the last two North & South Amateur championships.

Euan Walker
Euan Walker
Euan Walker, 23, of Scotland, is the highest-ranked European in the field and has recorded high finishes all over the world in 2019. He won the African Stroke Play, was the runner-up at the British Amateur in Ireland and the European Amateur in Austria, was third at the English Amateur (Brabazon Trophy), and was fifth in the European Nations (Sotogrande Cup) in Spain. Walker played college golf at the University of Missouri and made the World Amateur Team for Scotland in 2018. This will be his first USGA Championship.

Blake Windred
Blake Windred
Blake Windred, 22, of Australia, is the second-highest ranked Aussie behind David Micheluzzi, and is playing in his second straight U.S. Amateur, making match play last year at Pebble Beach. He has won back-to-back Avondale Amateurs in his home country, and has played well in the United States, finishing runner-up to Quade Cummins in the Pacific Coast this summer and runner-up in last year's Porter Cup. Like Micheluzzi, he has enjoyed success on the Australian professional tour, finishing third at the New South Wales Open and 12th in the Victorian Open.

Brandon Wu
Brandon Wu
Brandon Wu, 22, of Scarsdale, N.Y., pulled off a feat that no one had in over 50 years this summer -- he open qualified for both the U.S. and British Opens. He also was a key member of the Stanford University team that won the National Championship this spring. Wu, who was born in Danville, Calif., but lived in Beijing for five years, has played a light amateur schedule this summer, opting instead to play in professional events, including his T35 finish in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and a recent T30 finish in the Korn Ferry Tour's Ellie Mae Classic. Wu has to be considered a very strong candidate for the Walker Cup team regardless of how far he goes at Pinehurst.

Chun An Yu
Chun An Yu
Chun An Yu, 21, of Chinese Taipei, has enjoyed a breakout year that has seen him rise to the top spot in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Ranking. A rising senior at Arizona State, Yu started the year with a win at the Australian Master of the Amateurs tournament, and added a win at the ASU/Thunderbird Invitational plus six other top-5 finishes in the spring, including a third-place finish at the NCAA Championship. This summer, his best finish was a runner-up in the Porter Cup. Yu posted the second-best stroke average (71.61) by a freshman in Sun Devil history behind Jon Rahm.

Results: U.S. Amateur
WinMSAndy OgletreeLittle Rock, MS2000
Runner-upKYJohn AugensteinOwensboro, KY1500
SemifinalsMSCohen TrolioWest Point, MS1000
SemifinalsTXWilliam HolcombCrockett, TX1000
QuarterfinalsKYAustin SquiresUnion, KY700

View full results for U.S. Amateur

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, starting the third week in April at www.usga.org.

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