After reschedule, Sunnehanna Amateur tees off with stellar field
20 Jul 2020
by Brayden Conover of

see also: Sunnehanna Amateur Championship, Sunnehanna Country Club

The Sunnehanna Amateur, held annually at Sunnehanna Country Club since 1954, is always a welcome sight during the summer, but due to COVID-19, the wait was prolonged for players and fans alike.

Originally scheduled for June 17-20, the tournament tees off a month later with a new designation. Along with the North & South, Southern and Western Amateurs, the Sunnehanna is now a part of the Road to the U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes, with exemptions into the national championship being awarded for the winner and runner(s) up.

Related : USGA to exempt winners, runners-up of 4 AM majors into the US AM

Among those making the trip to Johnstown, Pennsylvania are a few of the same names that were high on the leaderboard in Dallas last weekend at the Southern Amateur.

A third-place finisher at Maridoe, Oklahoma’s Quade Cummins looks to improve on his fifth-place finish in last year’s Sunnehanna. Currently ranked No. 4 in the Golfweek/ World Amateur Ranking, Cummins has plenty of momentum on his side.

He will be joined by teammate Logan McAllister (No. 163) and Sooners head coach Ryan Hybl.

Other high finishers at the Southern include Oklahoma State’s Austin Eckroat (T-6; No. 25) and Aman Gupta (T-13; No. 202); Arkansas’ Julian Perico (T-6; No. 35); Pepperdine’s William Mouw (T-9; No. 50); and Texas’ Cole Hammer (T-13; No. 16) to name a few.

Highly-ranked Georgia Bulldogs Trent Phillips (No. 11) and Spencer Ralston (No. 14) are also in the field.

The list of Sunnehanna past champions is littered with PGA Tour players. 2016 champ Collin Morikawa is just the latest PGA Tour winner to have won the Sunnehanna. Other past champs include Rickie Fowler (2007-2008), Webb Simpson (2006), Lucas Glover (2001), Scott Verplank (1984-1985), and Ben Crenshaw (1973).

The Sunnehanna has long drawn the top mid-amateurs, many of whom -- Jay Sigel, Allen Doyle, John Harris, Duke Delcher and others -- have lifted the trophy.

Four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith is the only past Sunnehanna champion in the mid-amateur ranks this year, but many of the best of the 25-and-older set are in the field, including former U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Stewart Hagestad, the reigning Western Amateur champion Garrett Rank, Joe Deraney, and former U.S. Senior champion Sean Knapp.

There will be a new champion this year, as back-to-back winner Alex Smalley of Duke has turned professional.

Sunnehanna Amateur co-Chairman John Yerger is grateful to be able to continue the storied event while earning the unofficial ‘elite’ designation by the USGA with the exemptions awarded to the tournament winner and runner(s) up.

“I don’t think there’s any question at all it enhances the reputation of these events,” Yeager told back in June. “They [the USGA] not only wanted to incentivize these tournaments to be played, but I also think that the other thing they wanted to do was to award these committees for taking the initiative to try to pursue having these championships.”

COVID precautions

No spectators are being allowed, and everyone entering the property is instructed to check in at a health screening tent. Each player must have his temperature taken and fill out a health questionnaire prior to each round.

Other precautions include:

- Players may not arrive earlier than 90 minutes before their scheduled tee time and are requested to leave as soon as possible after concluding a round.

- No caddies will be permitted except for family members.

- Masks are required indoors, and encouraged but not mandatory outdoors.

“Parents and players are very appreciative of what’s being done,” said Yerger to Mike Mastovich of the Tribune-Democrat. “The protocols we have in place have been very successful. We’re really pleased. The players have assumed a lot of responsibility.”

ABOUT THE Sunnehanna Amateur

The Sunnehanna Amateur was inaugurated in July of 1954 -- it was the first country club sponsored 72-hole stroke play competition for amateurs in the United States. The tournament is played on a classic A.W. Tillinghast design. Only one other amateur tournament in the United States can list the likes of Chick Evans, Arnold Palmer, Julius Boros, Art Wall, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Rickie Fowler as contestants: the United States Amateur. Its medal play format has been emulated by countless amateur tournaments across the country.

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