The United States Amateur Championship gets underway on Monday August 19th with 312 competitors slugging it out over thirty six holes of stroke play to secure one of sixty four spots available in the match play phase starting Wednesday. |
If you think those numbers are daunting one look at the total driver ping k15 entrants highlights just what an effort even making the field for the event has been. Some 7,500 competitors have attempted qualifying at countless venues around the US and those successful have joined the sixteen who gained exempt status, via various categories, to test themselves over Oakland Hills in Michigan.
Oakland Hills was designed by one of the great course designers of all time, Donald Ross, back in 1917 and has played host to US Opens, US Womens and Senior Opens and PGA Championships over the years. It will also host the Ryder Cup in 2004. Donald Ross is perhaps best known for his work at Pinehurst #2 but was prolific in both the number and quality of courses in which he was involved around the years 1910 onwards.
There are two courses at Oakland Hills, the North and the South, with both being used for the stroke play but the South only, hosting the matchplay phase of competition.
The field is made up most of the US’s leading amateurs although several prix ping g20 will not be there due to the stringent nature of qualifying and the numbers involved. At most venues during sectional qualifying only three spots were available and in most cases as many as eighty players were vying for one of those spots.
Still the current leading lights in the amateur game in the US, DJ Trahan, Bill Haas, John Klauk, Brian Quackenbush and Chris Nallen will be there, although Australians Andrew Buckle and Simon Nash, who have done so well in recent weeks in the US, have missed out.
Australia will be represented by Richard Swift and Geoff Lound both from New South Wales with Lound somewhat of an unknown name here in Australia attending the University of Illinois. Also in the field will be the exciting talent of Alejandro Larrazabal the young Spaniard who recently won the British Amateur
The event carries with it invitations to some of the games great events including next year’s Masters and US Open and a foot in the door to professional golf. Having the US Amateur Championship on your CV makes the road to a sponsor’s door very easy to negotiate. The history of the US Amateur has shown that many of the games great players have won this event and gone on to outstanding professional careers. In recent years Tiger Woods (three times), callaway ft iz driver Matt Kuchar and David Gossett have gone on to great careers and in the case of Woods perhaps the greatest in the professional arena. Throw in names from a little earlier such as Mickelson, Mayfair, Leonard, Cook, Sutton, O’Meara, Nicklaus, and Palmer and the significance of a victory here begins to hit home.
Three hundered and twelve of the games leading amateurs will no doubt be experiencing sleepless nights of late as they await the start of an event that could well change one of their lives forever.
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