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Live from the US Am: Ghost holes, tardy caddie, Seinfeld goes low
15 Aug 2022
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com

see also: U.S. Amateur Golf Championship, Ridgewood Country Club

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Domingo Jojola (left), his caddie Keelan Cole, Haymes<br>Snedeker (right), his caddie John Wright (credit: USGA)
Domingo Jojola (left), his caddie Keelan Cole, Haymes
Snedeker (right), his caddie John Wright (credit: USGA)

A few initial reactions, tidbits, and takeaways from the first day of action at the U.S. Amateur being held at Arcola and Ridgewood Country Clubs.

Regal trees and deep rough will ruin rounds
Even with Gil Hanse coming in and removing trees to restore some of A.W. Tillinghast's original design over the last 20 years, the stately behemoths that remained on the course, and there are plenty of them, will give players plenty to think about on a lot of holes. The 18th hole, in particular, gave players fits today, as the dogleg right is lined with trees overhanging the right side.

Maxwell Moldovan said that the U.S. Open was good prep for Ridgewood. The rough felt like it might be deeper than the rough at the U.S. Open at Brookline. There were plenty of anxious spotters hunting for balls over the course of the day.

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I see ghost holes
Ridgewood consists of three nine hole courses. The players are competing on a composite course. As I walked the course today there were excellent holes that were simply pathways to get to and from locations on the course. Ridgewood is blessed with grounds for golf. One hole is the site of a concession area out near the ninth tee box. Seat, tables, and a pizza oven sit in the fairway of a ghost hole this week.

Some folks don't love the idea of composite courses, claiming it takes away from the experience of playing a course on a "normal" day. Places like Olympic Club, Pinehurst, and Oakmont can claim their championship course is their everyday course.

• • • • •

Teamwork makes a dream work
One of the leaders after day one is Chris Francoeur , he qualified for the U.S. Amateur as an alternate, but his path to the U.S. Amateur is one that didn't exist last year. Francoeur's teammate at Louisville, Jiri Zuska , qualified on his own merits, but he later earned an exemption when he finished in second in the Elite Amateur Series. Luckily for Francoeur he was the next man up on the alternate list.

This is Francoeur's first USGA event and final event as an amateur. He will compete in Q-School in Nebraska.

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Seinfeld groups shows out
With an undue bit of extra pressure and attention on the group of Mark Costanza, Hazen Newman, and Campbell Kremer, they ended up having a pretty good day on the course. Newman and Kremer both fired 68. A mid-amateur, Costanza was the only one that really got the Seinfeld joke. Newman said he needed someone to tell him the joke.

Said Costanza, “When I first looked at the pairing, I actually didn't realize it, and then a buddy of mine on the way to the practice round on Sunday, he texted me, ‘Hey, man, you're going viral.’ I said, ‘What?’ It was like a Reddit group or something that had it, saying if I only had a dollar for every time somebody asked me if I was related to George.”

"My dad's a big fan," Kremer said after the round. "I've never sat down and watched a show.”

Costanza will hope to have a good round tomorrow, as he's hovering right on the cut line at 3 over.

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Caddie arrives late
Jake Conjerti, Maxwell Moldovan's caddie, has had a busy summer balancing work and looping for his close friend in the U.S. Open qualifier, U.S. Open, and other amateur events. Today, a conflict at work kept Conjerti in front of a screen instead of helping out Moldovan.

"Somebody has to work," he quipped on the fourth tee box, Moldovan's 14th hole.

Conjerti clocked out at 5 pm and made his way out to the golf course. He arrived at 5:30 and hopped on Moldovan's bag for the final few holes. Moldovan will have to make match play for Conjerti to return to Moldovan's bag, as he tees off in the morning and will be done before Conjerti finishes his 9-to-5 grind.

• • • • •

Quote of the day
This gem from two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad, who opened with a 69 at Ridgewood, which included an eagle two on the 452-yard fifth hole with an 8-iron from 163 yards out: “I double-crossed one off the first tee, and then I double-crossed an iron off the second tee, and then I double-crossed a drive off the third tee and it hit a tree and knocked me back inbounds. At that point, I didn't really know where the ball was going. If you had told me after the third hole, I would have shot 2 under I would have walked straight in and had cocktails.”

• • • • •

Tweet of the day


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 event, which has no age restriction, is open to those with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent amateur competition in the world. Applications are typically placed online in the spring at www.usga.org.

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