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U.S. OPEN: Meet the 19 amateurs in the field at Los Angeles Country Club
13 Jun 2023
by Pete Wlodkowski of AmateurGolf.com

see also: U.S. Open Golf Championship, Pinehurst Resort and Country Club - No. 2

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This will be the largest amateur field in the U.S. Open since 2018
This will be the largest amateur field in the U.S. Open since 2018

This story was updated to show that Maxwell Moldovan got into the field late Sunday night as third alternate.

Want to play in the U.S. Open as an amateur? Let these 19 amateurs show you the way. Each has taken a different path to the national championship; read on to see who they are and how they took the Road to the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club.

BASTIEN AMAT
Amat, a native of France, will tee it up in his first U.S. Open after getting into the field on June 12 as the first alternate from the Lakewood, Wash., final qualifier. He advanced through both stages of qualifying, earning medalist honors in his local qualifier in Albuquerque, N.M., on May 2 with a 69. Amat just completed his junior season for the University of New Mexico, where he owns one victory, the Wolf Pack Classic in Reno, Nev. He finished the season with a team-best 70.76 stroke average and five top-10 finishes. In 2021, he was named the Mountain West Conference's Freshman of the Year, a season in which he tied for fourth individually at the NCAA Albuquerque (N.M.) Regional.

MICHAEL BRENNAN
The Wake Forest All-American, who attends the school on the Arnold Palmer Scholarship, will tee it up in his first U.S. Open after shooting 3-under-par 139 at Woodmont Country Club's North Course. Brennan won the Genesis Open Collegiate Showcase in 2022 to earn a spot in the PGA Tour event at The Riviera Country Club, a course not far from The Los Angeles Country Club. Was a member of the 2022 USA Palmer Cup Team. Qualified for match play in the 2020 U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes. The Leesburg, Va., native is a three-time Middle-Atlantic Amateur champion and won the 2020 Maridoe Junior Invitatonal. He also tied for third in the 2020 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.

BARCLAY BROWN
The native of England qualified for his first U.S. Open by shooting 10-under-par 132 at Hillcrest Country Club. Brown was one of four players from the 2022-23 Stanford University men's golf team to qualify on June 5, joining Michael Thorbjornsen, Karl Vilips and Alexander Yang. Brown made the cut in the 150th Open Championship last summer on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Earlier in the spring, he finished second in the Pacific-12 Conference Championship. He was a member of the 2021 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup Team.

BEN CARR
The Georgia Southern standout earned his first U.S. Open start by advancing to the championship match of the 2022 U.S. Amateur Championship at The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J. Carr fell, 1 down, to Sam Bennett in a thrilling 36-hole final. Carr was an honorable-mention Ping All-American for the 2021-22 season. Was the No. 1 junior golfer in Georgia when he graduated high school in 2019. Prior to Georgia Southern, he qualified for the 2016 and 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur Championships. He also was a four-year state high school champion.

CHRISTIAN CAVALIERE
The 25-year-old from Katonah, N.Y., will play in his first U.S. Open after surviving both local and final qualifying, the latter at Canoe Brook Country Club where he posted 6-under-par 136. Survived a playoff for the last spot in local qualifying at White Beaches Golf & Country Club after shooting a 70. Qualified for the 2018 and 2022 U.S. Amateur Championships. The graduate of Boston College decided not to turn professional and instead founded Tremont Sports, a company that makes specialized golf headcovers and other accessories. To help cover some costs at Boston College, Cavaliere sold custom hats in between golf tournaments. In January of 2022, he moved into an office in West Palm Beach, Fla. He is a three-time Westchester (N.Y.) Amateur champion, including the 2019 event at U.S. Open host site Winged Foot Golf Club. He also won the Metropolitan Golf Association's Junior title in 2016, and he was the low amateur in the 2019 New York State Open.

WENYI DING
Became the first male golfer from the People's Republic of China to win a USGA championship when he claimed the 2022 U.S. Junior Amateur in July at Bandon Dunes. Ding defeated University of Tennessee incoming freshman Caleb Surratt, 3 and 2, in the 36-hole final, where he built as large as an 8-up lead. This earned Ding an exemption into the 2023 U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club. Ding signed to play at Arizona State University this fall, where he'll join 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Preston Summerhays on the roster. Ding also won the China Amateur in 2021 and 2021 Boao Classic, a professional event in China. Earlier this year, he made the cut in a pair of professional events: the Singapore Classic and the PIF Saudi International, and he finished 47th in the ISPS Handa Australian Open at the end of 2022.

NICHOLAS DUNLAP
Earned his second U.S. Open start by shooting 8-under-par 136 and surviving a 3-for-2 playoff in the Columbus, Ohio, final qualifier. The 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur champion also played in the 2022 championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., after defeating Cohen Trolio in the 36-hole final at The Country Club of North Carolina. The Huntsville, Ala., native just completed his freshman season at the University of Alabama, where he has thus far won one event (Linger Longer Invitational) and posted a 70.35 stroke average (12 tournaments). Prior to enrolling at Alabama, Dunlap won the 2021 AJGA Polo Invitational, the only match-play event on the circuit. He also was the runner-up in the 2021 PGA Junior Championship, and he is a past age-division runner-up in the NFL's Punt, Pass and Kick competition.

MATEO FERNANDEZ DE OLIVEIRA
The University of Arkansas senior earned his first U.S. Open start by capturing the 2023 Latin America Amateur Championship in January, becoming the first LAAC champion to be exempt into the championship. The USGA announced the exemption just prior to this year's event in Panama. Fernandez de Oliveira also earned an invitation to the 2023 Masters and Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Last summer he played on the victorious International Palmer Cup Team. He won the 2022 South American Amateur and was the runner-up in 2020. He also captured the 2020 Azalea Amateur. Played two seasons at Texas Christian University before transferring to Arkansas. Advanced to match play in the 2020 and 2021 U.S. Amateur Championships, reaching the Round of 16 in the former.

MATTHEW MCCLEAN
Defeated fellow Irishman Hugh Foley, 3 and 1, in the 36-hole championship match at Erin Hills to claim the 2022 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, earning a spot in his first U.S. Open. The optometrist from Belfast celebrated his 30th birthday a week before the U.S. Open. In 2022, McClean was second in the Irish Men's Amateur Open, second in the North of Ireland's Men's Amateur, third in the Brabazon Trophy (Men's English Open Amateur) and he tied for sixth in the Lytham Trophy. He also was a semifinalist in this year's South African Amateur Championship. He represented the Republic of Ireland in the 2022 World Amateur Team Championship in France.

MAXWELL MOLDOVAN
The Ohio State rising senior was one of the last players to make the field after being third alternate; he found out Sunday night that he would be making his second-straight U.S. Open start. Moldovan shot rounds of 65-68 (-7) last Monday at the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier at Springfield (Ohio) Country Club, leaving him in a 3-for-2 playoff for the final two spots. He and Alex Schaake went ten playoff holes with Schaake winning the final spot. Moldovan had 10 top-10 finishes in 13 events this year for Ohio State and set the program's single-season scoring average for the third consecutive year at 70.64.

OMAR MORALES
The rising UCLA junior will compete in his first U.S. Open not far from the Westwood campus. Morales posted 12-under-par 130 at Hillcrest Country Club to earn medalist honors. This came after he shot a 68 in local qualifying on May 8 at the Classic Club in Palm Desert, Calif. The native of Mexico captured the El Macero Classic on April 16 for his first collegiate victory. He finished the season with a 72.2 scoring average. Morales was the No. 1 amateur in Mexico for the 2018-19 season.

ALDRICH POTGIETER
The 18-year-old South African earned his first U.S. Open start by capturing The Amateur Championship conducted by The R&A last summer. At age 17, he became the second-youngest winner of the world's oldest amateur competition, surpassed only by Italy's Matteo Manassero, who was 16 in 2009. He defeated Sam Bairstow, of England, 3 and 2, in the 36-hole final at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England Earlier this year, Potgieter rolled to a 10-stroke victory in the Sage Valley Junior Invitational, and claimed the African Amateur Stroke Play in February. Potgieter also won the 2020 South Australian Junior Masters and 2021 Western Australia Amateur.

GORDON SARGENT
Sargent, the 2022 NCAA Division I champion, will play in his first U.S. Open after earning medalist honors at the Ball Ground, Ga., final qualifier, shooting 13-under-par 131. Sargent, who just completed his sophomore season at Vanderbilt University, became the ninth freshman to win the NCAA title. The Masters Tournament then gave Sargent a special invitation to the tournament, becoming the first amateur since Aaron Baddeley in 2000 to earn such a distinction. He earned the 2022 Phil Mickelson Award for being the nation's top freshman golfer. He also was a first-team All-America selection by Ping and Golfweek and was named the Southeastern Conference's Freshman of the Year. In two seasons in Nashville, Tenn., he's won four college events and has vaulted as high as No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Sargent, a Birmingham, Ala., native, represented the USA in the 2022 World Amateur Team Championship (third place) and the 2022 Palmer Cup. Just prior to this year's U.S. Open, he will represent the USA again in the Palmer Cup at Laurel Valley Country Club in Ligonier, Pa.

ISAAC SIMMONS
Simmons, a rising fifth-year senior at Liberty University, qualified for his first U.S. Open via both stages. He shared medalist honors in the final qualifier at Woodmont Country Club (North Course), shooting 4-under-par 138. As a freshman in 2020-21, Simmons helped Liberty advance to the NCAA Championships in Scottsdale, Ariz., for just the third time in program history. The Huddleston, Va., resident competed in the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club.

PRESTON SUMMERHAYS
Summerhays, the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, will play in his second U.S. Open after surviving a 3-for-2 playoff at the Hillcrest Country Club final qualifier. He followed a morning 71 with an afternoon 62. It will be quite a few weeks for the Summerhays family. Preston's sister, Grace, qualified for the U.S. Women's Open and his uncle, Joe, will be in the field at the U.S. Senior Open. Preston defeated Bo Jin, 2 and 1 to win the 2019 U.S. Junior Am at Inverness Club. Summerhays, a rising junior at Arizona State, helped the Sun Devils qualify for match play in the recent NCAA Championships at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Preston's great uncle, Bruce, won three times on the PGA Tour Champions, while Daniel won the Korn Ferry Tour's Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational as an amateur. His aunt, Carrie, is the head women's golf coach at Brigham Young University. His father, Boyd, was a standout junior/amateur golfer, earning American Junior Golf Association All-America honors four times. He was the 1995 Golfweek/Titleist Junior Player of the Year before playing for Oklahoma State. A herniated disc ended his PGA Tour career after 29 starts. He's now a noted instructor who not only works with Preston and Grace, but also PGA Tour winner Tony Finau. Preston's great-grandfather, Pres, was the head coach at the University of Utah and his grandfather, Lynn, was a past president of the Utah Junior Golf Association. Preston followed up his U.S. Junior Amateur victory by becoming the youngest champion of the Sunnehanna Amateur (18 years, 2 days) the same week he would have defended his Junior title. Preston represented the USA in the 2019 Junior Presidents Cup in Australia. Prior to the U.S. Open, Preston will represent the USA in the Palmer Cup at Laurel Valley C.C. in Ligonier, Pa. In 2022, he was named the Pacific-12 Conference's Freshman of the Year.

MICHAEL THORBJORNSEN
Thorbjornsen captured the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Baltusrol, 1 up, over Akshay Bhatia and then made the cut in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links the following year. He is the only Junior champion to play 72 holes under the new U.S. Open exemption that was started in 2018 by the USGA that grants the reigning Junior Am champ a spot in the field. Thorbjornsen qualified for his third U.S. Open by earning medaist honors at Canoe Brook Country Club with an 8-under total of 134 on the North and South courses. He also qualified for the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and had the honor of hitting the opening tee shot, as he grew up a short drive away in Wellesley, Mass. Thorbjornsen just completed his junior season at Stanford University, where he won the Pacific-12 Conference title and helped the Cardinal reach the NCAA Championships in Scottsdale, Ariz. He represented the USA in the 2022 Palmer Cup. Thorbjornsen won the 2021 Western Amateur and Massachusetts Amateur, defeating 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale in the final match. In 2020, he reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes with fellow Cardinal Karl Vilips serving as his caddie.

BRENDAN VALDES
The rising junior at Auburn University survived both stages of qualifying to earn his first U.S. Open start. He posted 3-under 137 at Pinetree Golf Club in final qualifying, and shot a 67 in his local qualifier in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Valdes was named a Ping honorable-mention All-America for the 2022-23 season, a campaign that saw him win the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational. Through two seasons for the Tigers, he owns a stroke average of 70.95, a span that covers 21 tournaments. In 2018, Valdes won the Boys 14-15 Division of the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship at Augusta National Golf Club.

KARL VILIPS
The Australian was one of four members of the 2022-23 Stanford University golf team to qualify on June 5. Vilips shared medalist honors at Woodmont Country Club's North Course at 4-under-par 138. Vilips, who just completed his junior season, was an All-Pacific-12 Conference first-team selection this past season. Although from the western part of Australia, Vilips graduated from Saddlebrook Prep in Florida in 2020. He represented the International Team twice in the Junior Presidents Cup and was a five-time American Junior Golf Association All-American. He earned a gold medal in the 2018 Youth Olympics, and he joined Bob Jones as the youngest winner of the Southern Amateur when he was 15. He also advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2019 U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst.

ALEXANDER YANG
Yang will make his U.S. Open debut after sharing medalist honors in a final qualifier at Tacoma Country & Golf Club at 3-under 139. He advanced out of a local qualifier at Oswego Lake C.C. with a 70. He was one of four Stanford golfers to qualify for the U.S. Open on June 5, joining Michael Thorbjornsen, Barclay Brown and Karl Vilips. All four qualified at different sites. Yang competed in four events during the 2022-23 season for the highly ranked Cardinal. Although he was born in Hong Kong, Yang graduated from the Lauren Spring School in Ojai, Calif. He advanced to the final 16 (match-play qualifier) at the 2020 Western Amateur., and played for the USA in the 2019 Junior Presidents Cup. He was a first-team American Junior Golf Association Rolex First-Team All-American in 2018. He also was the low amateur in the 2020 Hong Kong Open on the Asian Tour.

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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