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U.S. Open: as Winged Foot stiffens, amateurs suffer free fall
18 Sep 2020
by Brayden Conover of AmateurGolf.com

see also: View results for U.S. Open, Torrey Pines Golf Club - South Course

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Davis Thompson went from red numbers to letters on a brutal U.S. Open Friday (USGA)
Davis Thompson went from red numbers to letters on a brutal U.S. Open Friday (USGA)

The golf gods (and the USGA) heard and answered our prayers. After a surprising day of low scoring on Thursday, the USGA adjusted the setup and made Winged Foot play like how many a Winged Foot U.S. Open has played – nearly impossible.

With the course playing harder, the 13 amateurs that were lucky enough to tee it up this week were almost completely wiped out of competition as the 120th U.S. Open heads into the weekend.

How hard was it for the ams? After averaging 73.5 on day one, the 13 shot a combined 96 over par on Friday, for a 77.4 average.

Florida State’s John Pak was seven shots worse than his opening 69. With a steady wind, ruthless rough, and harder pin locations, Pak’s 76 on Friday came without a single birdie.

Battling the long grass all day, Pak found just four of the 14 fairways at ‘The Foot’. Relying on his flat stick, Pak averaged 1.72 putts per hole which was .03 better than the field average on Friday.

As the day comes to a close, Pak is in a 16-way tie for 33th at 5 over par, one shot inside the cut line. He is ahead of some household names like Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, and Shane Lowry among others.

But it will be a lonesome walk for the next two days for Pak, who has already secured low amateur honors as the only amateur to make the cut.

When the day started, there were several amateurs in good shape -- two were under par, one was even, and three more were +2 or better. But as Winged Foot toughened up, the free-fall started.

Arizona State’s Chun An Yu looked as though he was going to join Pak for the weekend and a two-man battle for the low-am honors. Just two over par for the tournament and the day, Yu headed to the par 3 13th.

From there, it all went wrong for the Sun Devil.

Double, bogey, bogey, triple, bogey.

Over a five-hole stretch, Yu went from four inside the cut line (+2) to four outside of it (+10). If anything from Yu’s career has told us anything, this will not be the last time we will see his name in the field at the U.S. Open; he has now played in three U.S. Opens in a row.

One of Thursday’s bright spots, Georgia’s Davis Thompson suffered a similar Winged Foot fate on Friday. Trying to continue the momentum he built following his one-under 69, Thompson instead went out in 40 on the back nine, lost five more shots shortly after the turn, and found himself three shots off the eventual cutline. He rebounded with an eagle-2 on the driveable par-4 6th, and came to the reachable par-5 9th needing birdie to make the cut.

But he couldn't get up and down from just short of the green.

The Bulldog was joined by Japan’s Takumi Kanaya as the only amateurs to miss the cut by a single stroke. Kanaya shot rounds of 72-75 to finish at seven over.

After a 1-over 71 on Thursday, 2019 U.S. Amateur Champion Andy Ogletree (Georgia Tech) slumped to a 77 as he missed the cut alongside playing partner and defending U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland at eight over par.

Only two of the 13 amateurs improved their score from day one to day two. Both Cole Hammer (Texas) and Sandy Scott (Scotland/Texas Tech) took low round of the day among the non-pros with 4-over 74s.

Scott closed out his front nine with a pair of birdies to go out in 1-over 36. But he still needed to play his second nine in even par to make the weekend, and despite a couple of birdies at the end of his round, he came home in 38. Scott carded a 75 and 74 for a nine-over total of 149, three shots off the cut line.

Hammer, in a similar position to his fellow Big 12-er, followed up his 77 with an all-around solid performance given his start at the par-3 10th. Short-siding himself in the front right bunker, Hammer slapped his bunker shot to 27 feet leaving a tricky downhill slider. Getting out with a double-bogey, Hammer settled down the rest of the way but will still miss the weekend with rounds of 77-74 and an 11-over 151 total.

John Pak will begin his weekend at 11:18 am EDT alongside Adam Long.

Results: U.S. Open
T51NJJohn PakScotch Plains, NJ60069-76-79-74=298
MCJapanTakumi KanayaJapan072-75=147
MCGADavis ThompsonSt. Simons, GA069-78=147
MCMSAndy OgletreeLittle Rock, MS071-77=148
MCAZPreston SummerhaysScottsdale, AZ072-77=149

View full results for U.S. Open

ABOUT THE U.S. Open

The U.S. Open is the biggest of the 14 national championships conducted by the USGA. Open to amateurs and professionals.

The USGA intends to make the U.S. Open the most rigorous, yet fair, examination of golf skills, testing all forms of shot-making. The USGA prepares the course after careful consideration of 14 different factors.

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