It's Western Amateur
week, as the road to the U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes continues.
The tournament starts Tuesday, July 28 and concludes on Saturday, August 1 at Indiana's Crooked Stick Golf Club
And it's the first time since 1951 that the Western has been played in the Hoosier State.
The Western might be the most prestigious amateur golf tournament outside of the U.S. and British Amateurs. But mostly, The Western Amateur is known as the most grueling test as winning requires so much golf. There's no letup until the last putt is holed on Saturday.
The tournament starts with 18 holes of stroke play on Tuesday and Wednesday after which the field is cut to the low 44 scores and ties. Thursday it's a long day of 36 holes of stroke play to determine the “Sweet-16” who compete at Match Play on Friday and Saturday (two matches each day if you're going to the finals) to decide the champion.
You might remember Crooked Stick as the Pete Dye venue where John Daly found his way to fame and fortune (and everything in between) by coming in as the 9th alternate and wielding his long drives and deft touch around the greens to victory.
After hosting the PGA, Crooked Stick hosted the U.S. Women's Open (Laurie Merten won) in 1993, and later has hosted the WGA-conducted BMW Championship, part of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs series. Rory McIlroy won the 2012 BMW Championship; Dustin Johnson claimed the title in 2016.
The 2020 Western Amateur features one of the best fields in competitive golf. Many of the top finishers from 2019 (including defending champ Garrett Rank
and six other players who qualified for last year’s Sweet-16) are ready for action.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
(University of Oklahoma)
Cummins, the new No. 1 ranked player in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Amateur Ranking
, has been a model of consistency in 2020, recording five top-10 finishes in major events. He finished third at the Southern Amateur and followed that up with a T4 last week at the Sunnehanna. The winner of the 2019 Pacific Coast Amateur
seems poised to pick up another big "W" if he can pace himself and avoid fatigue.
(University of Florida)
A 2019 Western Amateur Sweet 16 qualifier and the No. 2-ranked amateur in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Castillo was named NCAA Division I Outstanding Freshman
in 2020 while making the All-SEC First Team. He was also a finalist for the Ben Hogan Award, presented annually to the nation’s top men’s college golfer.
(University of Georgia)
The 2019 Western Amateur medalist is the No. 4-ranked amateur in the world, a First Team NCAA Division I All-American and was one of three finalists for the Haskins Award, presented annually to the nation’s top men’s college golfer. (The award went to Sahith Theegala
, who has since turned pro.)
A two-time Western Amateur Sweet 16 qualifier, Pak was a Second Team NCAA Division I All-American and is the No. 3-ranked amateur in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com rankings. Pak picked up two wins in the short collegiate season, and is coming off a solid T6 finish at the Southern Amateur, at a course that makes similar demands on the game as Crooked Stick will this week. He is No. 1 in the first-ever PGA Tour University ranking
(University of Texas)
The 2018 Western Amateur champion
is not quite as high in the world rankings, at No. 14. But match play is his game -- in addition to winning the Western in 2018 he ran all the way to the semi-finals at the U.S. Amateur -- all before he entered college. Hammer posted two top-10 results during the abbreviated 2020 collegiate season, finishing T9 at the Fighting Illini Invite and T4 at the East Lake Cup.
The winner of the Southern Amateur
less than two weeks ago at Maridoe in Dallas posted a flawless 66 in the final round, making up 7 shots, and then won in extra holes. That's the kind of switch-it-up mentality that is required at The Western.
“We’re excited to bring this elite field to a venue as iconic as Crooked Stick," said Vince Pellegrino, WGA senior vice president of tournaments.
ABOUT CROOKED STICK GOLF CLUB
In 1964, Pete Dye built his first great golf course in his home state of Indiana. Supported by 60 “interested, avid, and maybe crazy golfers” from the Indianapolis area, Dye formed a corporation to acquire a flat cornfield to be transformed into a golf course. Crooked stick has been described by the Western Golf Association as a blend of Alister Mackenzie, Donald Ross and C.B. Macdonald.
Crooked Stick came into national prominence by hosting the PGA Championship in 1991. That was the same year that the designer of the TPC Sawgrass saw another of his iconic designs gain international attention by hosting the Ryder Cup matches. That course? The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island -- Google "War by the Shore" if you haven't heard of it. You won't be disappointed.
The Western Golf Association is not only famous for hosting professional tournaments that raise millions of dollars for worth charities. The WGA also manages the Evans Scholarship Foundation. Established in 1930 by famed golfer Charles “Chick” Evans Jr. and the WGA, the Foundation has awarded full tuition and housing scholarships to more than 11,000 caddies, including 1,010 caddies currently in school.
Crooked Stick has been a steadfast partner of the Evans Scholars Foundation for over 30 years. Twenty-four of those recipients caddied at Crooked Stick, including current Evans Scholar Joe Conway, a freshman at Purdue University. The two BMW Championships hosted by Crooked Stick raised over $6 Million for the foundation; all proceeds from the Western Amateur will go to the program as well.
As of virtual press time, no outside spectators will be allowed, however friends and family and members of Crooked Stick will ensure that golf claps are heard around the course. The official website announcement from the WGA follows:
The Western Golf Association has been carefully monitoring all information regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and remains focused on the health and safety of players and their families, volunteers, supporters and staff. As a result, public spectators will not be permitted to attend the championship this year. Approved player guests, Crooked Stick Members and WGA guests may attend but are required to have a mask and to practice social distancing while on-site. All approved guests will be required to: sign a COVID release waiver when they first arrive; answer a series of screening questions; and have their temperature taken daily upon arrival. Approved guests will not have access to the clubhouse and practice areas.
ABOUT THE Western Amateur
Invitational event, and the most important
tournament in American amateur golf outside of the
U.S. Amateur. With a grueling schedule, it's quite
hardest amateur tournament to win.
156 invited players come from across the
globe to play one of the toughest formats in
amateur golf. The tournament starts with 18
holes of stroke play on Tuesday and
Wednesday after which the field is cut to the
low 44 scores and ties. Thursday it's a long
day of 36 holes of stroke play to determine
the “Sweet Sixteen” who compete at Match
Play on Friday and Saturday (two matches
each day if you're going to the finals) to
decide the champion.
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