Storylines For 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links


By David Shefter, USGA
June 25, 2011

Youngest Player: Kyle Brey, 15, of Farmingdale, N.Y.
Oldest Player:  Dick Wenzel, 58, of Sparks, Nev.

States Represented (42): Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Countries Represented (7): Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Korea and The People’s Republic of China.

USGA Champions In Field (2): Tim Hogarth (1996 APL); Jim Liu (2010 U.S. Junior Amateur) 

NCAA Champion In Field: John Peterson (2011, Louisiana State University)

Players who qualified for 2011 U.S. Open (3): Brett Patterson, Scott Pinckney and Chris Williams

Players Competing In First APL: 110
Players Competing In First USGA Championship: 75

Average Age of Field: 22.9

Individual tidbits on players in the 2011 Amateur Public Links:  

Herbie Aikens, 29, of Kingston, Mass., started his own electrical business nine years ago. His first project to do a single electrical outlet was for $267. Now his company does more than $8 million in business annually and employs 30 people. An avid Celtics fan, he’s had floor seats for home games the last five years.

Bill Anderson, 19, of Deltona, Fla., says he loves jumping off things into water. He once leaped off a bridge in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. He also won the NJCAA Division I individual title this past year for Brevard Community College, and the 2011 FSGA Public Links title.

Josh Anderson, 22, of Murrieta, Calif., attended the same high school as current PGA Tour player Rickie Fowler. He was a semifinalist in the 2010 APL and won the 2007 California State Amateur.

Nicklaus Benton, 20, of Cabot, Ark., has the distinction of living in five different state capitals: Little Rock, Ark.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Frankfort, Ky.; and Atlanta, Ga.

Max Bichsel, 20, of Cranbury, N.J., has some interesting hobbies. The Texas Christian University junior says he is an amateur tattoo artist, a volunteer fireman and a semi-professional racecar driver.

Clifford Blanquicet Jr., 21, of Sanford, N.C., shot a 90 in the APL qualifier two years ago and wanted to quit the game. But through the encouragement of his girlfriend, the Wingate University senior kept at it and not only won a college event in 2011, but qualified for his first USGA championship (APL).

Jon Bohannon, 38, of Ocate, N.M., shot a 67 in his second round of sectional qualifying for this championship, including a first-nine 29 that earned him first-alternate status. He got into the field this week when exempt player Kevin Phelan withdrew. Nine years ago, Bohannon suffered a severe left-knee injury while snowboarding that required five screws and a titanium rod to be placed from his ankle to his knee. Doctors told him at the time that he would never play golf again.

Kyle Brey, 15, of Farmingdale, N.Y., has been playing on the Farmingdale High golf team since seventh grade. The team has won the county championship the past three years. He will be a high school sophomore in the fall.

Christopher Brown, 23, of Garland, Texas, lists winning the 2010 Conference USA individual title for Rice University in his senior season as one of his career golfing highlights.

Nicholas Brown, 20, of Rocklin, Calif., is extremely happy to be competing in his second consecutive APL after undergoing shoulder surgery from a weight-lifting accident, where he tore his labrum and rotator cuff. The San Jose State University junior rehabbed for three hours a day over the next six months and was able to return to playing competitively earlier than doctors expected. He was the medalist at his 2011 APL qualifier. Brown will celebrate his 21st birthday during the second round of stroke-play qualifying.

Phil Caravia, 33, of Columbia, Ill., was the 1995 Illinois high school state champion. The former Academic All-American at the University of Mississippi is now a financial advisor.

Nicholas Christenson, 22, of Stanchfield, Minn., has run two marathons, received nine speeding tickets and once suffered a broken bone while bowling, yet still managed to finish the game. In high school, he won 14 tournaments, including his conference title by 28 strokes.

Brian Colbert, 21, of Palatine, Ill., is writing a blog about his travels this summer competing in amateur golf competitions. You can read about his exploits at http://brofessionalgolfer.blogspot.com.

Paul Dagys, 23, of Oak Forest, Ill., graduated with a 4.0 GPA at NCAA Division II Lewis University. A summer caddie at Cog Hill, Dagys will attend the University of Iowa this fall in pursuit of a Master’s degree in actuarial science.

Gason De La Torre, 20, of Brush Prairie, Wash., won his high school state title three consecutive years (2006-08). He also enjoys collecting coins and invests in precious metals, especially bullion.

Jed Dirksen, 22, of Iowa City, Iowa, was the valedictorian of his high school class. He also advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay.

Bryce Edmister, 19, of Rochester, N.Y., lost a very close friend, Tim Decker, the day before his APL qualifier. He decided to play anyway to honor Decker and felt his spirit through the 36-hole event. Edmister managed to qualify for his first USGA championship.

Dan Ellis, 21, of Negaunee, Mich., has a twin brother who plays with him at Michigan State. He would have caddied this week for Dan, but will carry the bag for their swing coach, Scott Hebert, at the PGA Professional Club Pro Championship.

Harris English, 21, of Athens, Ga., is a three-time All-American for the University of Georgia who advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2010 APL.

Derek Ernst, 21, of Clovis, Calif., has limited vision in his right eye due to a childhood accident when a piece of PVC pipe broke off while using a kid’s toy to make a Valentine’s Day gift for his mom. He needed 10 stitches and the injury left permanent scarring. Ernst also is a two-time Mountain West Conference champion for UNLV.

George Gandranata, 25, of Indonesia, currently serves as the assistant men’s golf coach at the University of San Francisco.

Talor Gooch, 19, of Midwest City, Okla., won the 2001 U.S. Kids World Championship at the age of 9. He will be a sophomore on the Oklahoma State golf team.

John-Tyler Griffin, 24, of Wilson, N.C., was the stroke-play medalist at the 2010 APL, where he fell in the second round of match play.

Wayne Hall, 34, of Fredericksburg, Va., is an Eagle Scout (1994) who received an appointment to attend the United States Air Force Academy (1995). He now is a program manager for Analytical Graphics, Inc.

Bryan Harris, 22, of Newport Beach, Calif., says he has to wear something red with every outfit since it is his favorite color.

Mike Haynes, 40, of Gallipolis, Ohio, returned to college as an unconventional student at 28 and earned his MBA from Ohio University at 31. As part of his MBA requirement, he spent 23 days in Brazil, including a week in the Amazon.

Robert Hoadley, 20, of Southern Pines, N.C., played in the First Tee Open and walked down the same fairways with 1983 U.S. Open champion Larry Nelson.

Tim Hogarth, 45, of Northridge, Calif., claimed the 1996 U.S. Amateur Public Links title and was the runner-up last fall at the U.S. Mid-Amateur. He also won the 1999 California State Amateur. The self-employed health food salesman is a reinstated amateur.

J.J. Holen, 18, of Castaic, Calif., has been a Type 1 diabetic since he was 5 and must carefully monitor his blood-sugar levels on and off the course. He wants to be an inspiration to other kids that they can participate and do well in any activity despite having diabetes. Holen also volunteers for his local Special Olympics program.

Brodie Hullinger, 26, of Pierre, S.D., grew up on a ranch in rural South Dakota, where the nearest golf course was 17 miles away and only the greens were irrigated. With golf being a short season in South Dakota, Hullinger occupies the winter months by playing in two adult basketball leagues.

Kevin Josephson, 21, of New Britain, Conn., first attended an APL four years ago when he watched good friend Cody Paladino play Colt Knost in the final at Cantigny outside of Chicago. This year, Josephson fulfilled a lifelong dream of qualifying for a USGA championship, sharing medalist honors at his sectional with good friend, Keith Kwasnik.

Scott Kammann, 38, of Knoxville, Tenn., was a semifinalist at the 1994 APL and a quarterfinalist at the 1995 U.S. Amateur. The reinstated amateur currently is a medical sales representative. Last year, he began swimming with the University of Tennessee Masters Team.

Jameson Keiley, 16, of Haiku, Hawaii, is competing this week with his 18-year-old brother, Justin Keiley.

Peter Kyon Won Woo, 15, of Korea currently resides in Chandler, Ariz., where he’ll be a sophomore at Chandler High. He made history this past April as the youngest to ever win the Arizona Golf Association’s Stroke Play Championship. He also is licensed to scuba dive and enjoys ice hockey and basketball.

Aaron Kunitomo, 17, of Lahaina, Hawaii, was invited to play with Rory Sabbatini at Kapalua four years ago and then he served as the standard bearer in his group a week later at the Mercedes Benz Championship.

John Larson, 26, of New Ulm, Minn., owns the Minnesota state high school scoring record. He also has been to every Minnesota Vikings home game the past three years.

Steven Liebler, 52, of Irmo, S.C., has now qualified for every USGA event for which he has been eligible. Prior to coming to Bandon Dunes, he qualified for his first U.S. Senior Open. The only event left for him to qualify for is the USGA Senior Amateur, for which he'll be eligible in three years. The reinstated amateur played in the 1984 and 1985 U.S. Open.

Jim Liu, 15, of Smithtown, N.Y., became the youngest champion in U.S. Junior Amateur history last year, breaking the mark held by Tiger Woods for 19 years. He was  the youngest competitor in the 2010 APL and advanced to the round of 32.

Nick MacDonald, 22, of Lebanon, N.H., used to practice putting and chipping to a green built by his father in front of their home. When he graduated from high school, his parents got rid of the green by allowing the grass to grow. Also was an all-state hockey player in high school.

When Timothy Madigan, 22, of Rio Rancho, N.M., was born, an emergency C-section had to be performed because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and nearly choked him.

Maxwell Marsico, 20, of Las Vegas, Nev., was part of Millennium Dreamers in 2000, a charity that helped refugee children in Kosovo and Bosnia. Marsico helped collect more than 200 soccer balls, footballs, etc., to send overseas.

Max McKay, 19, of St. Augustine, Fla., makes sure to carefully mark his golf balls before playing in any competition as he has had a tendency to hit the wrong ball. It’s happened to him on three occasions in the past year.

Alexander Medinis, 21, of Fort Myers, Fla., once broke his arm swinging on a soccer goal and he played the rest of the golf season in a cast swinging with his right arm. By the last tournament, he shot a 43 and won.

Daniel Miernicki, 21, of Santee, Calif., played on the U.S. Palmer Cup Team in 2010 and 2011, and is a two-time All-American at the University of Oregon, where he’ll be a senior this fall.

Mark Miller, 42, of West Covina, Calif., has been a stay-at-home dad since 2005. The reinstated amateur has qualified for three U.S. Mid-Amateurs, but this is his first APL.

Brett Patterson, 19, of McMinnville, Tenn., became the first golfer from Middle Tennessee State University to qualify for a U.S. Open when he accomplished the feat on June 6. He missed the cut at Congressional.

John Peterson, 22, of Fort Worth, Texas, won the 2011 NCAA Division I individual title at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla. Peterson, who played for Louisiana State University, joined Austin Ernst of the women’s team to make it a rare double NCAA Division I individual titles in the same season for LSU.

Ryan Peterson, 22, of Burnsville, Minn., won a pair of Minnesota state high school titles in 2005 and 2007 and then won the Mountain West Conference title in 2010 for Colorado State.

Scott Pinckney, 22, of Scottsdale, Ariz., has a connection to 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy. Back in 2000, McIlroy’s parents sent Rory to live with Pinckney in Orem, Utah, for three months because they thought the weather was better in Utah than Northern Ireland. On a daily basis, they played golf together, ate together and competed together. Pinckney, a recent Arizona State graduate, was reunited with McIlroy at Congressional as a sectional qualifier.

Glenn Przbylski, 44, of Frankfort, Ill., met his wife, Joyce, and current caddie on a blind date 14 years ago. This is his sixth APL and 12th USGA championship.

Garrett Rank, 23, of Canada works as a minor professional hockey referee during the winter months.

Matthew Record, 19, of Phoenix, Ariz., nearly died from a ruptured appendix when he was a high school freshman at Chaparral High. He survived the surgery and played on four consecutive state champion golf teams.

Kevin Rei, 21, of Chico, Calif., should have plenty of course knowledge when he tees it up this week in his first APL. He will be working his second summer as a caddie at the Bandon Dunes Resort.

Jamie Schmitt, 39, of Grain Valley, Mo., is the only player other than Tom Watson to win both the Kansas City Match Play (1992) and Kansas City Amateur (1994 and 2010). He was paired with the 1982 U.S. Open champion at this year’s Watson Challenge event. He works as a salesman for a golf cart company.

Jack Schultz, 20, of Whitefish Bay, Wis., is a part owner of the world champion Green Bay Packers, the only community-owned team in the NFL. He also was named the 2010 Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year.

Eric Steger, 22, of Noblesville, Ind., had a strong 2010, winning the Indiana State Amateur, the Indianapolis Open and finishing runner-up at the Indiana Open. When he won the Amateur, he joined his father, Scott, as the only father-son duo to win that title.

John Thompson, 22, of Coconut Creek, Fla., is getting married on July 4 of this year, so if he makes the APL final, he’ll be flying home a day before the ceremony. His father, Scott, caddied for Kathy Baker when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1985 at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. Scott is serving as John’s caddie this week.

Nick Tremps, 17, of San Antonio, Texas, won a pair of junior golf tournaments when he was 12 years old with a cast on his arm as a result of a basketball injury.

John Urquhart, 42, of Glendale, Ariz., qualified for the 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur in the midst of dialysis for his kidney. He was diagnosed in 2006 with an auto-immune disease that caused kidney failure and he endured 2½ years of dialysis before finally receiving a transplant in October of 2008, about a month after missing the match-play cut at Milwaukee C.C. Since then, Urquhart has had a new lease on life and is making the most of every day. He also is a singer/songwriter for a country-music band (John Eric Band) and in the last 13 years the group has opened for several national acts, including Tracy Lawrence, Pat Green, Ty Herndon, Tracy Byrd, Mark Wills, Gary Allen and Deana Carter.

Harold Varner III, 20, of Gastonia, N.C., won the 2007 First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. He loves shrimp, but can’t eat it because he is allergic to shell fish.

Daniel Walker, 20, of Earlysville, Va., has made the Dean’s List three of his first four semesters at the University of Richmond and was a member of National Honor Society while being home-schooled from kindergarten through high school.

Hal Willardson, 25, of Palmer, Alaska, has just been commissioned into the United States Air Force and will be starting medical school at Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md., this fall. The 2010 Brigham Young University graduate also has lived in Mexico and Brazil and is fluent in both Spanish and Portuguese.

Alex Williams, 24, of Cornwall on the Hudson, N.Y., is currently serving as an assistant golf coach at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Chris Williams, 20, of Moscow, Idaho, just qualified for his first U.S. Open in June and advanced to the quarterfinalist of the 2010 APL before losing to eventual champion Lion Kim. He was named the 2010 Pacific-10 Conference Freshman of the Year and was a member of the 2011 U.S. Palmer Cup Team that recently won its competition at Stanwich Club in Connecticut.

John Wright, 43, of Aurora, Ill., got a rare thrill of playing Augusta National Golf Club two weeks before this year’s Masters. While walking off the 18th green, he ran into Tiger Woods, who was leaving the clubhouse, and the two had a brief chat.

Storylines compiled by David Shefter, senior staff writer and content manager for the USGA. E-mail him at dshefter@usga.org. 

 

 

 

 

 

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