Four amateurs make the cut at the U.S. Open
Vick, Bennett, Greaser, and Hagestad (Credit: USGA)
For the first time since 2019, amateurs will tee it up on the weekend of the U.S. Open as Travis Vick, Austin Greaser, Sam Bennet, and Stewart Hagestad all made the cut at the national open being held at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
At 1-under par, Vick is just four shots off the lead held by Collin Morikawa and Joel Dahmen, who are tied at 5-under. Greaser is 2-over after the first 36 holes while Bennett and Hagestad were right on the cutline which was 3-over.
Here's a look at the players who will be competing for low amateur honors -- and maybe more -- this weekend at Brookline.
Bennett has the capability to go low. In the NCAA finals, the Texas A&M standout shot into tenth place with a final round 64 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
His opening round of 70 was rather tidy. He birdied the drivable fifth hole and the par-five 14th.
Making a cut in a major championship is hard, and Bennett held it together during his second round.
He opened with a 34, making birdies on the first and eighth holes. The back nine, however, was not as kind to Bennett. Early bogeys on the tenth and twelfth holes put a bit of pressure on him. He came to the 17th hole one-over par, but was just enough cushion, as he closed with back-to-back bogeys.
Sam Bennett (Credit: USGA)
It’s been quite a month for Vick. The Texan provided the clinching point for the Texas Longhorns at the NCAA Championships and then he played his way into the U.S. Open with a stellar closing nine, including an eagle in Dallas. He was the only amateur to make the field from that venue.
He took advantage of arriving in Boston with some time to practice.
“It's been incredible, to say the least. I got here early,” he said. “Really wanted to kind of just take everything in, kind of settle the nerves. So I got to see a bunch of the course.”
Vick didn't wander The Country Club blind during this rounds last weekend, Mike Boylan, a local caddie at The Country Club for many years, showed Vick the ropes.
The preparation settled his nerves.
"You're trying to make it your home course, so you can get comfortable over tee shots, wind direction, and green speeds," Vick said.
Vick ranks seventh in strokes gained off the tee over the opening 36 holes, a big reason why he'll be around for two more rounds in Brookline. However, he wasn't completely pleased with how he struck the ball on Friday and he headed to the range with his swing coach and caddie for the week, Adam Porzak.
"We were fine tuning a few things to see if it would click, and it clicked," he said as he left the range in the Boston twilight.
It seems like the Texan is feeling right at home in Boston, and he has a big cheering section cheering him on.
After Austin Greaser missed the cut in the 2022 Masters, he pledged that he was going to focus more on golf when he arrived in Boston for the U.S. Open, while allowing other people to worry about the details.
“I’m the only one with a tee time,” he said.
At Augusta, Greaser made the turn on Friday within shouting distance of the cut line. It was the same on Friday at The Country Club. He played his opening nine holes on Friday in even par, leaving him 2-over for the championship. A bogey on the fourth was canceled out with a birdie on the par-4 eighth hole.
Greaser bogeyed the challenging tenth hole and then birdied the second par five of the day at the 14th hole, but he gave it right back on the 15th hole.
It took some magic on the 17th to save par. From the back of the famous green, Greaser had to negotiate the wild slope to get his ball close to the pin which was mere paces from the green’s false front.
As his 10-foot birdie putt trickled into the hole on the 18th hole, Greaser’s twin brother pumped his fist in celebration. There would be no nervous afternoon watching the cut line swing and sway up and down. He could eat his lunch and prepare for a Saturday tee time in the U.S. Open.
Stewart Hagestad and his caddie AJ Ferraro (credit: USGA)
The reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion had quite a journey around The Country Club on Thursday. His name was atop the leaderboard early in the day when he reached 3-under par. It was a stunning start as he birdied the fifth, seventh, and eighth holes.
With AJ Ferraro on his bag, the duo cut a similar silhouette to Francis Ouimet and his caddie Eddie Lowery. Hagestad’s tall, slim frame and Ferraro’s bucket hat evoked thoughts of grandeur to those watching.
Hagestad hit it close on the short par-3 11th, which is when his name reached the top of the leaderboard.
However, a tough closing seven holes sent Hagestad from three-under par to three-over par.
On Friday, Hagestad played golf on a tightrope. The cut line seemed like it was going to fall at three-over par. He birdied the 17th hole for an opening 34 but quick bogeys on the second and fourth holes had Hagestad in need of a birdie coming home.
He found the birdie on the fifth hole and then parred out, hitting his approach on the ninth hole, his final of the day, to about twenty feet to leave him a rather stress free two putt.
The four amateurs are separated by four shots as they play two more rounds for the honor of being low amateur in the 122nd playing of the U.S. Open.