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Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Quick Look at the Amateurs

There's been a lot of talk about amateur players over the last few weeks, especially Patrick Cantlay, who was Low Am at the U.S. Open and then shot a 60 at the Travelers last week. He's currently T40, even par, at the AT&T National. Peter Uihlein, the amateur who had center stage before Cantlay went all Nicklaus and Woods on us, is T60 at +3.

But believe it or not, there are other amateurs playing this game for hardware of their own. The 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links was played this week, and in the past it's been useful at identifying future stars. Just to name a few:
  • Tim Clark
  • Trevor Immelman
  • Ryan Moore (twice)
  • Brandt Snedeker
  • Michelle Wie
  • Yani Tseng
  • Tiffany Joh (twice)
This week both the men's and women's edition were played at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon OR. You may not know this, but the 4 courses that make up Bandon Dunes (Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, and Old Macdonald) are genuine links courses, not imitations like Whistling Straits. They're built right on the Pacific Coast, on sandy dune land that plays windy and firm with the kind of tall frustrating grasses you expect to find on a links course.

Brianna Do (pronounced Doh) of Vietnam won the Women's Publinx 1up over Marissa Dodd of Allen TX. I admit this match interested me primarily because Dodd is coming to Wake Forest University this fall. (I live just outside Winston-Salem NC where Wake is.)

In the Men's match, Corbin Mills of Easley SC beat Derek Ernst of Clovis CA in 37 holes.

The Publinx is different from many amateur competitions in that you have to play municipal courses to be eligible -- private club members need not apply. And while the Publinx winners don't get all the perks of the U.S. Amateur winners, the men's champ does get an invitation to the Masters if he remains an amateur until then.

In many ways, the Publinx is more representative of typical amateur players because its requirements are less stringent (players are allowed a slightly higher handicap) and of course because of that public courses restriction. This is the tournament where true Cinderella stories have a chance to happen, because this tournament isn't for the privileged players.

So let's take a moment to send congrats to Do and Mills on their accomplishments... and Dodd and Ernst as well. In this tournament, the runner-ups quite frequently come back and win the following year!

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