Notebook: Beating the pros; as the Crowe flies; Zhang's numbers and more
02 Nov 2022
by Jim Young of AmateurGolf.com

see also: Taiga Semikawa Rankings

An amateur winning a professional event can oftentimes be attributed to having a hot week and a little luck, a second pro win is definitely an eye-opener and a third...well if you can beat them, you might as well join them.

Taiga Semikawa, the world’s top-rated male amateur whose first name was inspired by Tiger Woods, won his third professional event on the Japan Golf Tour Organization (JGTO) last week, capturing the Japan Open at Sanko Golf Club by two strokes to become the first amateur to win the event in 95 years. Former world No. 1 and 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott finished 12 strokes back in a tie for sixth.

Semikawa, who belongs to the same university golf team that once featured current Hideki Matsuyama, took a six-shot lead into the final round and overcame a triple bogey on Sunday to hang on for a two-shot victory over Kazuki Higa.

It was the third professional victory in a row for Semikawa, following his wins at the Japan Create Challenge and the Panasonic Open, when he became only the sixth amateur to win on the JGTO. He is also the first player in JGTO Tour history to win at least two tournaments before turning pro.

According to the Japan Golf Association, Semikawa is planning to turn pro on November 10 at the Visa Taiheiyo Championship, one of the showpiece events on the JGTO.

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SURRATT'S WILD RIDE IN BERMUDA: Most weekend golfers have the ability to take the sting out of poor rounds by applying the "If Only" theorem, a strange but proven mathematical formula that substitutes pars and birdies in place of bogeys, double bogeys and the dreaded "others," turning an 85 into a 78.

Caleb Surratt may have been playing the same game in his head following his PGA Tour debut at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship on a sponsor's exemption after winning the inaugural Elite Amateur Series Cup last summer. The Tennessee freshman made the cut after rounds of 71 and 64 left him at 7-under heading into the weekend.

Caleb Surratt
However, in Saturday's third round, Surratt experienced a rare “octuple-bogey” 12 on Port Royal Golf Course's par-4, 14th hole. After his tee shot went out of bounds, the howling winds took Surratt's next three shots from the rough OB, eventually leading to a 12. He also had five bogeys on his card and signed for a 14-over 85.

The 18-year-old bounced back nicely on Sunday, making an eagle at the par-5 17th and a birdie at 18 to close with a 6-under round of 65 which left him tied for 65th place at 1-over par.

"If only" Surratt would have shot even par in his third round, he would have finished tied for 11th at 13-under par.

“Literally, the only way I can describe it was it was the most benign freak accident I’ve ever (been part of)," Surratt told Jim McCabe of PGA.Tour.com and Power Fades.

For more on Surratt's wild ride in Bermuda, check out McCabe's piece on Power Fades.

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CROWE DELAYS PLANS TO TURN PRO: Harrison Crowe thought he had it all figured out. The Aussie was set to turn professional following the Asia-Pacific Amateur but then something happened at the Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand that threw a wrench into his plans…he won.

The victory itself was not a surprise for a player of Crowe’s credentials – he won the Australian Master of the Amateurs, New South Wales Amateur and New South Wales Open in 2021, the latter being a professional event. He also finished second in the 2021 National PGA Classic, another professional event.

However, Crowe wasn’t in the best of form when he arrived in Thailand, having missed the cut at the Japan Open the week before. It was in Japan where Crowe had the chance to meet his golfing hero, fellow Aussie at 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott.

“I was blushing a little bit,” Crowe told Golf Australia. “It felt like a bit of a fan for me, he was a really down-to-earth guy,” Crowe said of Scott. “Obviously I didn’t play very well last week. Had a chat with him afterward and he just kind of said ‘reset and get ready for AAC and go win it’.”

After taking a two-shot lead into the final round, Crowe fell three strokes behind Bo Jin when he made the turn at 3-over par. However, Crowe managed four birdies in a five-hole stretch beginning at No. 11 and hung on for a one-stroke victory over the Oklahoma State junior. The win earned the 21-year-old Aussie an invitation into next year’s Masters and Open Championship.

“I did have the plan to more than likely turn pro after this week, but it’s a good reason not to,” Crowe said. “Plenty of things ahead for me that are super exciting.”

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SPARTAN’S RIVAL CONTINUES: If anyone thought San Jose State’s 2021-22 season was a flash in the pan…think again. One year after the Spartans enjoyed a magical run that took them all the way into the match play portion of the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, Dana Dormann’s team has continued its winning ways this fall, despite the loss of All-American Natasha Andrea Oon. The Spartans began the season with a win at the USF Intercollegiate at the Olympic Club and recently wrapped up its fall schedule with a wire-to-wire victory at The Landfall Tradition, where it soundly defeated No. 2 Wake Forest and No. 4 South Carolina.

Outside of Stanford, San Jose State has arguably been the most consistent team in the country over the last year and a half, winning seven team titles in its last 15 full-field events dating back to last year and finishing out of the top three just twice during that time frame.

While Oon was the only Spartan to win an individual title last year, the Swedish tandem of Kajsa Arwefjall and Louisa Carlbom broke through with their maiden victories this fall, claiming medalist honors at the USF Intercollegiate and Landfall Tradition, respectively. Additionally, fifth-year senior Antonia Malate finished second to Rose Zhang in a stacked field at the Stanford Intercollegiate.

San Jose State will go head-to-head with the mighty Cardinal in the second Battle of the Bay on Feb. 21 at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif.

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ROSE ZHANG: INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Stanford’s Rose Zhang picked up her third win of the season on Wednesday at the Nanea Pac-12 Preview, where she finished at 11-under par for a three-stroke victory over Oregon's Ashleigh Park. It also marked Zhang’s seventh collegiate individual title in 14 full-field events dating back to last year, when she won four times as a freshman. In addition to her seven career wins, she has four runner-up finishes and finished outside of the top three just three times. Of her 43 career rounds, 37 have been at par or better, including 21 times she has shot in the 60s.

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TEXAS' VICK TO TEST WATERS ON PGA TOUR: Texas All-American Travis Vick will compete in back-to-back PGA TOUR events over the next two weeks in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba on Nov. 3-6 and the Cadence Bank Houston Open on Nov. 10-13.

A three-time All-American during his career at Texas, Vick posted a 71.10 stroke average in four stroke-play events during the fall 2002 season with the Longhorns. He earned a ninth-place individual finish at the Jackson T. Stephens Cup (Oct. 10-11) with a 6-under-par 210 (69-72-69) and added a tie for ninth place at the East Lake Cup (Oct. 24) with an even-par 72. Courtesy of Texas Athletic Communications.

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SAYING GOODBYE TO A LEGEND: Dale McNamara, the legendary college golf coach who helped launch the women’s program at Tulsa passed away on Oct. 30 after her second battle with cancer. She was 86 and surrounded by her daughters, Cathy and Melissa, at the time of her death.

Melissa Luellen (L) with her mother Dale McNamara
McNamara was the head coach of the Tulsa women's golf program for 26 years (1974-2000) and developed Golden Hurricane golf into a national powerhouse.

A native Tulsan, McNamara began her coaching career at TU as a volunteer coach in 1974 and quickly developed the start-up program into the nation's premier program, winning four national titles and a total of 81 tournament crowns. In just her second season, she led the Hurricane women to a second-place finish at the AIAW National Championship.

She led Tulsa to 22 national tournament appearances and in addition to her four national titles, placed as the national runner-up five times. Along with the 81 tournament titles, McNamara's teams placed second 30 times. Three of her teams captured a school single-season record eight tournament wins, including in the 1976-77, 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons.

McNamara coached 28 first or second-team All-Americans and produced 32 professional golfers, including golfing great Nancy Lopez.

After a long pro career, her daughter Melissa Luellen, took over for her mother at Tulsa, won an NCAA title at Arizona State and guided Auburn to the national semifinals a year ago. She posted this beautiful tribute to her mother on Instagram.

“An incredible mother, wife, coach, advocate, mentor and friend. Never backed down to a challenge and would always fight for ‘her girls.’ Girls being my sister Cathy and me and all of her @tulsawgolf players. She touched many lives and will live on in those she made a difference in. Rest in peace Momma.”

• • • • •

ANDREW VON LOSSOW DOUBLES DOWN: Remember Andrew Von Lossow? After qualifying for his first U.S. Amateur at the age of 34, the Spokane, Wash. native then survived a playoff at the championship proper to make it into match play as the No. 63 seed. He then upset Michael Thorbjornsen, then the No. 3-ranked amateur in the world in the Round of 64 before taking eventual finalist Ben Carr to the final hole before bowing out.

Related: The Hickory Man: Von Lossow plays spoiler at U.S. Amateur

Washington Golf (WA Golf) named Von Lossow its Men’s and Men’s Mid-Amateur Player of the Year, earning him the distinction of being the first male competitor to receive both of these awards in the same year.

Lauryn Nguyen (Women's Player of the Year), Jacqueline Bendrick (Women's Mid-Amateur Player of the Year), Erik Hanson (Senior Men's Player of the Year), Kim Shek (Senior Women's Player of the Year), Max Herendeen (Junior Boys' Player of the Year) and Angela Zhang (Junior Girls’ Player of the Year) were also honored.

• • • • •

MY KIND OF TOWN: Monday's announcement by the USGA that the Walker Cup Match will be held at Chicago Golf Club in 2036 adds to the list of spectacular venues in line to host the event in the upcoming years. The 2023 Walker Cup will take place at the Old Course at St. Andrews and then will return to American soil two years later at Cypress Point Golf Club in Pebble Beach. The Bandon Dunes resort in Oregon will serve as host in 2028 with Oakmont Country Club (2032) and Chicago Golf Club (2036) also in the rotation.

It will mark the second time the Walker Cup Match will be held at Chicago Golf Club. In 2005, the Americans held off Great Britain and Ireland 12½-11½, to reclaim the Cup after three straight defeats.

Located in Chicago’s western suburbs, Chicago Golf Club was founded in 1892, debuted the first 18-hole course in the United States in 1893, and became one of five founding member clubs of the USGA in 1894. The storied club was established by Charles Blair Macdonald, who was the first U.S. Amateur champion in 1895 and served as the first vice president of the USGA.

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CONQUERING THE BAY STATE: Our own Sean Melia, host of the popular AmateurGolf.com podcast, continues his quest to play every golf course in his home state of Massachusetts. The Holy Cross graduate has knocked out 92 of an estimated 350 courses in the Bay State, having recently crossed Wollaston Country Club, Franklin CC, Essex CC, Ole Scotland Links and Pembroke CC off the list. Melia lists The Country Club, Myopia Hunt Club, Essex CC and Taconic among his favorites so far. Melia will continue his journey in the spring after he spends another cold New England winter inside the TD Garden watching his beloved Boston Celtics.

For more on Sean's journey, check out BayStateGolf.com.

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East West Matches; Maridoe Golf Club; Carrolton, Texas; Nov. 4-6
The second edition of the Matches is set for this weekend with 36 of the nation’s best amateurs gathering in Texas for a Ryder Cup-style event. Kevin Marsh will serve as captain fr the West team while Nathaniel Crosby will guide the East squad. All matches are 18 holes in length. Eight four-ball matches begin the competition on Friday while Saturday is the busiest day with nine foursomes matches in the morning followed by nine foursomes matches in the afternoon. Eighteen singles matches are slated for Sunday morning. For the complete preview, click here.

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