2020 Western Amateur champ Pierceson Coody
Add Pierceson Coody
's name to the short list of favorites heading into the U.S. Amateur later this month at Bandon Dunes.
Today Coody won the biggest title of his young career at Crooked Stick Golf Club, claiming the Western Amateur over Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen
of Denmark. This marks the third-straight year in which Coody has picked up a title of one of the AmateurGolf.com "Majors of Amateur Golf
In 2018 he won the South Beach International Amateur
in Florida. Last year, he added his name to the storied trophy of the Trans-Miss Amateur
, where Jack Nicklaus is a former champion.
After the Trans-Miss triumph, Coody was not shy in vocalizing how high he has set his goals. “This is another step in the process and getting to the where I want to be as the No. 1 amateur in the world," he said at the time.
The Western continues the University of Texas rising star's ascent toward No. 1 in the GolfWeek/AmateurGolf.com World Amateur Ranking
-- he is now inside the top 5.
Coody picked took the lead early with a birdie on the 358-yard first hole. He would go 2-up when Neergaard-Petersen bogeyed the par-3 6th hole, but Neergaard-Petersen came right back with a solid par at the tough 7th hole, narrowing the deficit to 1-down when Coody bogeyed.
The duo would match each other hole-by-hole all the way through No. 13. Coody took a 2-up lead again with a par at No. 14 -- a monstrous par-4 over 480 yards -- but gave it back with a bogey at another 480-plus par-4, No. 16.
Coody, after seeing his lead cut in half, had a few moments of trepidation at the par-3 17th, one of the toughest of the day and playing right into the wind over water. Thinking his ball was in the bunker, he and his caddie approached it only to see -- nothing. With the ball nowhere in sight, his heart started beating a a little faster.
“Seventeen into the wind,” Coody said to the Indy Star. “It’s just brutal.”
But after he and his caddie located it hiding in a drain, he took a free drop (outside the bunker) chipped from an awkward lie onto the green and made a 20-foot par save to close out Neergaard-Petersen.
“I kind of had a feeling he was going to make it,” Neergaard-Petersen said of Coody’s last putt. “He had a great chip.”
"The Western Amateur is one of the biggest events of the year," Coody said after the victory. "To see my name next to that list of names is humbling and amazing."
Coody is the 7th Texas Longhorn golfer to win the prestigious title, and the list portends well for his golf future. Starting with Rik Massengale in 1968, the list goes on to include Ben Crenshaw (1973); Justin Leonard (1992 & 1993); John Klauk (2002); Beau Hossler
(2014) and Cole Hammer
He's been around the game his entire life - playing golf with his twin brother Parker (who also plays for Texas) and caddying for grandfather Charles, the 1971 Masters champion, in the par-3 contest at Augusta National.
Neergaard-Peterson, who plays for Oklahoma State, decided to stay in the U.S. after the spring NCAA season was cut short, due to the lack of tournaments in Denmark.
“I could have gone home, but there wouldn’t have been any tournaments to play in,” he told Golf Oklahoma after winning the Oklahoma Stroke Play at 14 under. “So I’m going to play here all summer.”
It was a wise decision.
Although he came up short today at Crooked Stick, the 2018 and 2019 German International champ would have earned a guaranteed spot in the U.S. Amateur, but he didn't need it after the USGA included him in the list of exempt players when the field was published on July 27.
Coody, who was exempt using a number of criteria -- including his final 16 U.S. Am finish at Pinehurst in 2019 -- is one to watch at Bandon Dunes. Texas golfers know how to handle wind, and it can blow in the summer on the Oregon Coast. Neergaard-Petersen should work his way into the mix as well, after building confidence all summer in the U.S. and likely having seen all sorts of weather in his European upbringing.
As for the U.S. Amateur exemptions for the top two players in "lead-up" tournaments
, all of them seem to have gone to players who would have been exempt. It was, however, still a really thoughtful thing for the USGA to do, despite no real 'Cinderella story' players earning entries.
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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