Aman Gupta fell in love with the front nine at Bandon Trails today
Wind, what wind?
McClure Meissner showed us he could go low in the wind less than a month ago at the Southern Amateur.
Meissner fired 66 in the last round at Maridoe in Dallas, when par was a good score on any hole. Today at Bandon Dunes, the SMU golfer got out before the heaviest Oregon coastal winds, and fired 8-under 64 on the day.
Aman Gupta of North Carolina also fired 64, at the par-71 Bandon Trails course, 7-under on the day.
Those scores make the day sound easy, but at Bandon Dunes and Bandon Trails -- two of the five main courses at Bandon Dunes Resort -- it's easy to make bogeys, or worse, if things starting going sideways.
That's the nature of links golf - and Bandon Dunes is no replica of the British Isles most famous courses, it's the real deal.
Gorgeous wavy landscapes, sand dunes, tall grasses, and of course the Pacific Ocean make every hole at the resort a feast for the eyes. But wide-eyed smiles quickly turn upside down when you're hitting into a three club wind with the ocean on your left and virtually unplayable sand dunes on the right.
So sure, take advantage of the firm fairways, strike crisp and accurate iron shots, and hole some putts -- any of the courses at Bandon Dunes will reward that kind of play. The par-5 holes are "gettable" and the occasional par-4 can be driven by the longest players.
Meissner, just as he did in the last round of Maridoe, had a lot of things go right today. He birdied three of the first four holes, then added two more birdies for a 31. After a slow start to the back nine, Meissner followed a birdie on No. 14 with a bogey on the par-3 15th. And if you're going to take a bogey, that's a good place to do it -- the wind blows sideways off the Pacific as you guide your ball along the coast on the left, and a two story bunker on the right 'just says no' to par if you're in it.
Turning back towards the clubhouse, Meissner birdied the last three to punctuate one of the lowest competitive rounds ever posted on the main Bandon Dunes course.
“I got out there early and made some putts,” said Meissner. “I got off to a hot start and then hit it really well all day. I think I only missed one or two greens. I just gave myself good looks all day. We were fortunate that they moved up a couple [tee] boxes on a couple par threes. They could have made it extremely hard on those holes, but they were nice.”
For Gupta it was all about the front nine. Gupta teed off on the front nine of the Bandon Trails Course, and as the holes turn inland, he liked what he saw.
How's a 7-birdie 29 on the front nine?
“I got a new putter on Friday, and it worked out pretty well,” said Gupta. “I think I had 11 putts on the front nine, so made it pretty easy on myself.”
Gupta slowed his birdie barrage down on the back, but still managed nine straight pars and a bogey-free 18 hole score of 64. It was the only bogey-free round of the day.
Both Gupta and Meissner credited taking advantage of their early tee times.
“Anyone with a 7:30 [a.m.], 7 [a.m.] tee time definitely has an advantage this week because we didn't have to deal with hardly any wind until I want to say our 14th hole,” said Gupta. “So it was definitely a big advantage to go in the morning and make some birdies early before the wind started to pick up.”
Gupta is one of seven Oklahoma State golfers in the 2020 U.S. Amateur field. He's certainly set the mark for them, and the rest of the field.
- David Perkins, of East Peoria, Ill. and Illinois State shot a 68 at Bandon Trails to tie for the low score in the windy afternoon wave: “It was very challenging,” said Perkins. “It was about a three- to four-club wind. Probably four. But yeah, it made it challenging. It's fun, and knowing if you played well, you were going to gain a lot of ground.”
- The defending champion Andy Ogletree shot a 74 at Bandon Trails, while last year's runner-up John Augenstein had a 70 at Bandon Dunes. “Bogeyed three out of my last four coming in, so I played okay until then, just got to finish it off a little better”, said Ogletree. “Obviously playing [Bandon] Dunes [on Tuesday] in the afternoon, so it's going to be windy. But I've got to figure it out and just go post a good score and see what happens.”
- Ogletree wasn't the only player to struggle coming in at Bandon Trails. The final four holes play straight into the strong north summer wind, and statistically played as the 1st, 5th, 2nd and 3rd hardest holes in relation to par.
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.
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