Pac-12ers do work in first round of U.S. Amateur Championship
Golfers from the Conference of Champions are well represented in this week’s U.S. Amateur Championship in Brookline, Mass., with 18 guys who either played in the Pac-12 last season or will play at a Pac-12 school next season in the event. After 18 holes on Monday and Tuesday apiece, the top 64 golfers will make the cut for the match-play portion of the championship, which concludes Sunday with a 36-hole final.
They’re proud of Steve Desimone’s boys in Berkeley, and why not? A Pac-12 championship, NCAA match-play participant and the modern-era NCAA record for tournament victories in a season. Thus, it should come as no surprise that five Golden Bears are playing in the U.S. Amateur Championship this week. Michael Weaver was the runner-up in 2012 and shot 4-over on the par-70 Country Club course (players either play at The Country Club or Charles River Country Club for this championship). Weaver is far from the only guy to have success at this event from Cal, however, because Brandon Hagy made the semifinals last year. Through 18 holes this year, Hagy is tied for 58th: After starting out 2-over on his first eight holes, Hagy shot even par over the final 10 to check in with a 72.
Thought we were done raving about Cal’s past success in this event? Think again, because Max Homa reached the Elite Eight (or, as non-basketball people would call it, the quarterfinals) in 2010 and advanced to the round of 32 in the match-play portion of the championship last year. Homa didn’t have as much success as Hagy or Weaver in his Monday round, shooting a 78 on the day to check in at 8-over. Not to be forgotten, Michael Kim (one of the top collegiate golfers all of last year) made it to match play last season but needs to pick up the pace this week if he wants to repeat that effort. So far, Kim is 11-over and nine shots off where the current cut line is for match play. Last but not least, Pace Johnson had a respectable Monday, finishing the day with a 75 and in a position to make a charge for Wednesday golf with a very good Tuesday.
Cal is not alone in sending a fab five to Massachusetts, for Washington hath done the same with its quintet of Cheng-Tsung Pan, Charlie Hughes, Trevor Simsby, Jonathan Sanders and Gerrit Chambers (and hey, if you want to count current USF Don and former Husky Cory McElyea, that’d be six Matt Thurmond-ites of recent memory). For a guy who was in contention for the lead at the U.S. Open in the second round, you’d figure Pan would be right in the thick of things for an amateur tournament, and that would be a correct assumption thus far. Though he is seven shots off the lead, Pan’s 2-over Monday has him sitting on the cut line in 58th place. Even better than Pan is the recently graduated Charlie Hughes, who was dubbed the quintessential student-athlete earlier this year by Gregg Bell. The All-America Scholar who earned a business degree from UW is 1-over, enough to put him in a tie for 37th. Repeat that kind of effort on Tuesday and he’ll have no trouble moving on to Wednesday. Sanders, Chambers and Simsby are by no means out of contention for 64th, but at 6-over (Chambers and Sanders, tied for 179th) and 7-over (Simsby, tied for 205th), those three will have to jump quite a few golfers (like, more than 100) to play beyond Tuesday.
Stanford’s trio of Patrick Rodgers, Jim Liu and Cameron Wilson gives the Pac-12 its third and final team of multiple golfers qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Championship. The Card might not have as many golfers on the course as Cal or Washington, but Cameron Wilson’s even-par effort on Monday will have anyone monitoring this event recognize Stanford’s presence. Wilson’s 70 has him five shots behind Nick Hardy and in a tie for 19th place as one of just 36 golfers in the 312-man field (11.538462 percent of golfers, for the calculator-inclined) to play even par or better on Monday. An incoming frosh out of the great state of New York, Liu is right on the cut line at 2-over. Meanwhile, Rodgers has a little bit of work to do after carding a 73 for his opening 18, currently just one off the mark for the top 64 or a playoff to get in the top 64. Any tiebreaker playoffs to determine the field of 64 will be held Wednesday.
Five other schools from the Pac-12 have a golfer in attendance, and most of them have at least a decent shot of cracking the top 64 by the end of Tuesday’s round. Oregon’s Brandon McIver leads the rest of the Pac with a 1-over effort that has him tied with Washington’s Hughes and a plethora of others in 37th. USC incoming frosh Rico Hoey and UCLA rising junior Matt Pinizzotto aren’t too far behind at 3-over, putting them well within striking distance in a tie for 86th. Oregon State’s Brian Jung is right on their heels as well, carding a 74 (+4) that has the Beav in a tie for 112th alongside Cal’s Weaver. Lastly, Washington State's Blake Snyder is 10-over, needing a monster Tuesday to continue on to Wednesday.