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Live from the US Am: A pricey "five & dime" and major comparisons
16 Aug 2022
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com

see also: View results for U.S. Amateur, Ridgewood Country Club

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Charlie Jackson (Credit: USGA)
Charlie Jackson (Credit: USGA)

Ridgewood CC and Arcola CC put up quite a fight during the first two rounds of the U.S. Open. Over the two days, players battled the elements and the pressure of making it into the top 64. The field has been culled down to 68 players, and a 15-for-11 playoff will start at 7:30 on Wednesday morning.

Here are some thoughts after a second day of watching the best amateurs in the world.

• • • • •

A major test
The rough, narrow fairways, length, and firm, glassy greens are evoking comparisons to this year's U.S. Open.

Austin Greaser, Sam Bennett, and Travis Vick would know a thing or two about both The Country Club and Ridgewood CC.

"Me and Sam were talking about it today while we were playing, and toughness-wise we might give this one the edge," Greaser said. "They're both great golf courses that you would expect a U.S. Open and U.S. Am to be on."

He continued.

"They really test every aspect of your game. Really tough off the tee and around the greens. Both very special places, and hopefully one of these days I'll get another chance at both of them."

The long rough was what Travis Vick believes makes Ridgewood CC harder than The Country Club.

"It's so hard to advance the ball from this rough," Vick said. "It's just so deep."

Without thousands of fans to trample down the rough, it is certainly a challenge to not just advance the ball but even to find it quickly when a ball is hit offline.

• • • • •

A few 1974 U.S. Amateur stories
David Repetto caddied in the 1974 U.S. Amateur at Ridgewood. He decided to track down as many players as he could that played in the event. He started with the player he caddied for - Dale Kutz.

I met David's son, Peter, who is also a bit of a golf historian and fervently proud of Ridgewood. He shared a cartoon image from the 1974 U.S. Amateur that poked fun at the trees that blocked many shots on the course.

"Back then, the trees were so big they'd sometimes touch in places from opposite sides of fairways," Peter said.



The trees are still a staple at Ridgewood, but thankfully, they've been trimmed or removed by Gil Hanse over the last 20 years.

• • • • •

Jerry Pate's victory jacket
In 1974, Jerry Pate arrived at Ridgewood for the U.S. Amateur and didn't have a blazer for the clubhouse. An attendant was kind enough to loan his blazer to Pate for the dinner, but he also told him Pate could keep the blazer if he won that week.

Later that week, Pate won the U.S. Amateur and left Paramus, NJ with the Havemeyer Trophy and a blazer.

• • • • •

Pace of play close call
Bryce Lewis was a bit steamed leaving the scoring tent. He had just poured in a birdie putt on the 18th hole at Ridgewood, eliciting a yelp from a follower. The birdie helped Lewis reach 4-over par before the afternoon wave headed out onto the course.

However, the excitement quickly turned to dread as the USGA asked the group of Lewis, Caleb Surratt, and Jiri Zuska to explain why they were behind on pace. It was a heated discussion, as the trio explained that they weren't playing slowly.

It seemed that over the closing holes the group lost touch with the groups in front of them. All three groups were behind, but the other two played faster coming home, leaving a gap that the USGA wasn't too enthused about.

Lewis was the only player with something to lose as Zuska and Surratt both shot 10-over par for the two rounds and knew they were heading home, or back to college.

In the end, the USGA didn't penalize the players. Lewis, rather annoyed, left the tent upset, claiming that they weren't playing slow. Surratt said the same thing.

If the group had been penalized Lewis would have slipped to 5-over par and into the playoff.

• • • • •

Tweet of the day

Five and Dime
The 12th hole, named "Five and Dime" is going to steal some dreams this week. Watching players navigate the 291-yard par 4 has been a blast. Players have ended up in all sorts of odd positions in bunkers, cart paths, and gnarly rough if they go for the green. Sometimes bogey is a good score when players are greenside after their tee shot.

"Five and Dime" derives from how Byron Nelson used to play the hole: a five-iron off the tee and a ten-iron (pitching wedge) onto the elevated putting surface. The putting surface, sloping from high left to low right and measuring less than 2,200 square feet, is considered one of the smallest in championship golf.

Match play will offer different strategies, but the hole will play a pivotal role in the championship.

• • • • •

Dear Professor...
As Austin Greaser teed off at Arcola on Monday, thousands of students down in Chapel-Hill were starting their school year. "He had to email his professors to let them know he'd miss some classes this week," his dad, Michael, said.

Greaser isn't the only one missing class this week, which begs the question, is the U.S. Amateur too late in the summer? The amateur schedule is packed, but Greaser even had to take a five week intensive class between the U.S. Open and Western Amateur to stay on track at school.

Greaser, last year's runner-up, wasn't able to qualify for match play this year after shooting 73-77.

"I just struggled and was really fighting driver, and on these two courses you can't be fighting driver," he said. "We'll sharpen it up and get ready for the fall."

• • • • •

The Buzz
All three Georgia Tech Yellowjacket players in the field – Christo Lamprecht, Bartley Forrester and Ross Steelman – have advanced to the 64-player bracket for match play. It marks the sixth straight year that at least one Yellow Jacket has advanced to match play, including 2019 and 2020, when Andy Ogletree and Tyler Strafaci lifted the Havemeyer Trophy in back-to-back years at Pinehurst, N.C., and Bandon, Ore., respectively. Matt Kuchar won the championship in 1997, and Bobby Jones was crowned five times between 1924 and 1930.

• • • • •

I spy
Spotted on the grounds of Tuesday were two members of the victorious 2022 USA Curtis Cup Team Megha Ganne, who resides in nearby Holmdel, NJ and her future Stanford teammate Rachel Heck. Both competed in last week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Chambers Bay. Heck will depart for France on Saturday to compete in the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship.

• • • • •

Quote of the day
“I was telling my assistant [coach Dudley Hart], who is on the bag this week, it's like the same course, the only difference is one is called the [U.S.] Open, one is called the Am, and one has 100,000 people watching you. But no, it plays hard. It's fair. The greens are a little softer than the Open, which makes it a little easier. But they can make this course really hard.” – Fred Biondi comparing the conditions at this year’s U.S. Open at The Country Club, where he missed the cut, to Ridgewood

The USGA contributed to this report.

Related: Live from the US Am Day 1: Ghost holes, tardy caddie, Seinfeld goes low

Results: U.S. Amateur
WinTXSam BennettMadisonville, TX2000
Runner-upGABen CarrColumbus, GA1500
SemifinalsCADylan MenanteCarlsbad, CA1000
SemifinalsMNDerek HitchnerMinneapolis, MN1000
QuarterfinalsPANicholas GrossDowningtown, PA700

View full results for U.S. Amateur

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.

View Complete Tournament Information

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