Storylines For 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links


By Michael Trostel
July 9, 2012

Youngest Player: Taisei Negishi, 14, of Hilo, Hawaii

Oldest Player: Steve Groom, 54, of Raytown, Mo.

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

Most Represented by State: California (24), Florida (10), Illinois (9), Hawaii (7), Minnesota (7), Texas (7)

Countries Represented (6): Canada, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, South Africa, The People’s Republic of China, United States

Most Times Qualified for APL (9): Steve Groom, 54, of Raytown, Mo.

Most Times Qualified for USGA Championships (12): Jon Veneziano, 42, of Mount Dora, Fla.

Players Competing in First APL: 118 

Players Competing in First USGA Championship: 95 

Average Age of Field: 23.6

Individual Tidbits on Players in the Field: 

Herbie Aikens, 30, of Pembroke, Mass., started his own electrical business 10 years ago. His first project was to do a single electrical outlet for $267. Now his company does more than $8 million in business annually and has 30 employees. An avid Celtics fan, he’s had floor seats for home games the last five years. Aikens qualified for three USGA championships in 2011: U.S. Amateur, U.S. Mid-Amateur and U.S. Amateur Public Links.

 Joseph Alfieri II, 42, of Lutz, Fla., advanced to the third round of the 1989 APL.

Kevin Aylwin, 23, of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., enjoys playing basketball and says his Twitter handle is Aquafina03 because “my jump shot is pure.”

Joseph Barr, 23, of Versailles, Ky., won the Woodford (Ky.) County baby contest at age 1, beating the governor of Kentucky’s grandson in her hometown. Barr’s brother, Cale, has played in two USGA championships. Barr won more than 100 junior golf tournaments in Kentucky.

Chelso Barrett, 17, of Keene, N.H., was the runner-up at the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur. Barrett lost to Jordan Spieth, 6 and 5, at Gold Mountain G.C. (Olympic Course). Barrett’s family owns Bretwood Golf Course in Keene, N.H., which was one of the sectional qualifying sites for this year’s APL.

Zachary Blair, 21, of Ogden, Utah, won the 2011 Salt Lake City Amateur and 2009 Utah State Amateur. He was also runner-up at the 2011 Sahalee Players Championship.

Paul Blanche, 29, of Anchorage, Alaska, is a fisheries biologist at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Kevin Boie, 25, of Beaverton, Ore., was a member of the high school hockey team that won the 2003 Minnesota State Championship.

Daniel Charen, 23, of Langhorne, Pa., won the individual gold medal at the 2011 Maccabi Pan-Am Games in Brazil. His nickname is “At Dan Charen” because of his love for Twitter and social media.

Alexander Chiarella, 18, of Pukalani, Hawaii, had four surgeries on parts of his digestive system and was the 2011 Hawaii State Junior Golfer of the Year.

Chris Coleman, 28, of Dayton, Ohio, has made two albatrosses on the same hole at Beavercreek (Ohio) Golf Club. Coleman is in his fourth year of dental school at The Ohio State University. He was a two-time Horizon League Player of the Year (2001, 2002) in baseball at Wright State University.

Dylan Crowley, 19, of Glen Cove, N.Y., shot a career-low 64 (following a 78) at Eisenhower Park Golf Course in East Meadow, N.Y., to qualify for the 2012 APL.

Chris Davis, 26, of Glendora, Calif., chipped in for eagle on the final hole of qualifying to make the field for the 2012 APL.

Anthony Degol, 22, of Hollidaysburg, Pa., admitted his error to a Rules official during a high school tournament for having 15 clubs. He received a four-stroke penalty and still won the tournament by one shot. 

Alex Edfort, 20, of Somerset, N.J., won the AAU national championship for diving on the 3-meter springboard when he was 14. 

Derek Ernst, 22, of Clovis, Calif., was the runner-up in the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links, losing to Corbin Mills in 37 holes at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. In the first round of match play, he aced the 299-yard eighth hole at Bandon Trails. Ernst has limited vision in his right eye due to a childhood accident when a piece of PVC pipe broke off from a toy while he was making a Valentine’s Day gift for his mom. He needed 10 stitches and the injury left permanent scarring. He is a three-time Mountain West Conference champion for UNLV and was a member of the 2012 USA Palmer Cup team.

Eric Fitzsimmons, 29, of Las Vegas, was a baseball pitcher at Lynchburg (Va.) College with aspirations of being drafted, but injured his arm. After turning his full attention to golf in 2006, Fitzsimmons went from a 20 handicap to a scratch player in less than one year. 

Philip Gieseker, 21, of Ann Arbor, Mich., can dunk a basketball.

Talor Gooch, 20, of Midwest City, Okla., won the 2001 U.S. Kids World Championship at the age of 9. He will be a junior on the Oklahoma State golf team and was voted to the All Big-12 Conference team in 2012.

Benjamin Griffin, 16, of Chapel Hill, N.C., received his driver's license six days prior to the start of the 2012 APL.

Wes Hillen, 21, of Columbia, Ill., had heart surgery when he was a freshman in high school.

Logan Holt, 20, of Dublin, Ohio, is the cousin of 2003 British Open champion Ben Curtis.

Dan Horner, 34, of Sandy, Utah, won the 2008 Utah State Amateur at Soldier Hollow’s Silver Course. In a 1999 U.S. Amateur qualifier, Horner made eagle on a 330-yard par-4, but lost his honor when his fellow competitor made a hole-in-one.

Trent Karlik, 33, of Pittsburgh, Pa., is a high school computer teacher. He has also played with Arnold Palmer at The King’s home course, Latrobe Country Club.

Korky Kemp, 37, of Greensboro, N.C., made one cut each on the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour and finished dead last in both events. His birth name is Keith Wyatt Kemp and his three brothers (Kenny, Kris and Kevin) all have the same initials (KWK). He works with a ministry group that came out of the PGA Tour Bible Study and helps college and pro golfers with their faith. His father-in-law passed away on July 4, 2012 from pancreatic cancer and until two days before the championship started, Kemp was unsure if he would be able to play in the APL because of the scheduling of the funeral services. 

Cheyne Kendall, 19, of Deer Park, Texas, made a hole-in-one as a 13 year old in a scramble tournament, but could not accept the car that he won because he did not meet the age minimum requirement.

Tyler Klava, 20, from Pace, Fla., has been wearing braces for nearly 10 years.

Aaron Klimchuk, 19, of White Plains, N.Y., represented the United States in golf at the 2009 Maccabiah Games in Israel. The team won by five shots. Klimchuk has also volunteered at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, The Barclays and at events for The First Tee.

Jacob Knapp, 18, of Costa Mesa, Calif., can solve a Rubik's Cube in under a minute. He shot a 61 in local qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Open.

Ryan Kohler, 28, of Alstead, N.H., did not start playing competitively until after graduating from college in 2007. He spent the winter of 2008 hitting thousands of golf balls, ordered from eBay, into his parents’ field from a hole he dug in the snow. The following spring he broke par for the first time.

Victor Kyatt, 36, of Hoover, Ala., shot a course-record 63 at Chace Lake Golf Course on the same day he proposed to his wife. A dentist, Kyatt has gone on four medical dental missions to Honduras. 

Adam Larkin, 20, of North Bellmore, N.Y., is a two-time Skyline Conference Player of the Year at Farmingdale State College and once ate 28 hot dogs in one sitting, earning fifth place in an eating contest.

Jooho Lee, 16, of Canada, has made 11 holes-in-one.

Sangsoo Lee, 44, of Ridgefield, N.J., didn’t start playing golf until he was 35.

Marais Lombard, 34, of South Africa, went to a driving range on his first date with his future wife. Despite darkness and a tropical downpour that had just moved across the region, the couple drove to the range, which still had its lights on. Because nobody was present to sell them a bucket, they ventured out in ankle-deep water to retrieve balls and hit golf balls for hours.

Chris Long, 39, of Garretson, S.D., is a high school principal. He proposed to his wife by writing “Will you marry me?” on a golf ball that she retrieved from the sixth hole at Flandreau (S.D.) Park Golf Course. Long was the 1992 Gatorade Football Player of the Year in South Dakota.

Ted Moehrke, 19, of Vacaville, Calif., is an Eagle Scout and is six inches taller than anyone else in family.

Aaron Moreno, 30, of Gilbert, Ariz., has a brother, Mikel, who was an All-American baseball player at Arizona State University.

Sean Packer, 27, of Seattle, was unsuccessful in qualifying for more than 40 USGA championships over 13 years before qualifying for the 2012 APL. Packer tied for third in the 2008 NCAA Division II Golf Championship.

 Cheng-Tsung Pan, 20, of Chinese Taipei, won the Azalea Invitational and was runner-up at the Sahalee Players Championship in 2011. Pan was the medalist at the Western Amateur in 2009 and 2010 and qualified for the 2011 U.S. Open.

Brett Patterson, 20, of McMinnville, Tenn., qualified for the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club.

Kirby Pettitt, 22, of Carroll, Iowa, is one of 11 siblings.

Joseph Prince, 34, of San Diego, is the assistant men’s golf coach at the University of San Diego; he won the 2006 NAIA Golf Championship at age 28.

Jack Radley, 20, of Sanford, N.C., was born in London and moved to the United States at age 1.

Garrett Rank, 24, of Canada, works as a minor league hockey referee during the winter. He is a cancer survivor.

Seth Reeves, 21, of Duluth, Ga., was the 2011 Southeastern Amateur champion and follows the Paleolithic diet.

Steve Ross, 28, of Huntington, W.Va., is a firefighter (Local 289) for the city of Huntington.

Xander Schauffele, 18, of San Diego, attends Long Beach State and was elected Big West First Team All-Conference and voted Big West Freshman of the Year in 2012. His father is a golf swing and mental coach.

Michael Schitmeyer, 22, of St. Marys, Ohio, has never had a golf lesson and uses a baseball grip.

Brad Schneider, 23, of Valrico, Calif., plays golf with a brace on his left leg due to an injury he suffered in 2006.

Cory Sciupider, 18, of Etowah, N.C., made two holes-in-one four days apart as a 13 year old. His sister, Kayla, plays golf for Rollins College.

Shane Smith, 22, of Godfrey, Ill., was the runner-up at the 2011 NCAA Division III Golf Championship.

Sam Stark, 20, of Hartland, Mich., lost a tooth after getting hit by a baseball. His father has been the superintendant at a public golf course, Dunham Hills Golf Club, for 28 years and Stark has worked there for the past seven years.

Sepp Straka, 19, of Valdosta, Ga., was raised in Austria and moved to the United States at age 14. Straka has a twin brother, Sam, who also plays golf at the University of Georgia.

Adam Tebbs, 24, of Las Vegas, served in a Mormon mission in Tallahassee, Fla., for two years and speaks fluent Spanish.

Jay Tilton, 31, of Cincinnati, had a limited practice regimen leading up to the APL qualifier because he and his wife bought a new house in need of lots of work and the couple has a 19-month-old son. Other than chipping around his yard, his only practice in the month leading up to the qualifier was hitting one bucket of balls. He still achieved his lifetime goal of playing in a USGA championship. 

J.T. Timmons, 19, of Salt Lake City, was asked to play golf by his basketball coach during his junior year in high school. Timmons, who previously played golf left-handed, switched to right-handed and placed second in his region the next year.

Mike Vanier, 32, of Lincoln, Neb., is a professional poker player and finished in the money at the 2008 World Series of Poker.

Jon Veneziano, 41, of Mount Dora, Fla., was a semifinalist in the 1988 U.S. Junior Amateur and was a member of the Florida squad that finished runner-up in the 2010 USGA State Team Championship. Veneziano shot 59 in a 2002 tournament at Country Club of Mount Dora (Fla.) and was elected into the University of Hartford Athletics Hall of Fame.

T.J. Vogel, 21, of Miami, was voted to the 2012 NCAA Division I All-America team for the University of Florida. In the 2012 season, Vogel won two tournaments, the JU Invitational and the Charleston Shootout. Vogel transferred to Florida from the University of Southern California, where he was Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.

Grant Weaver, 19, of Wooster, Ohio, lives near an Amish community and can understand the Pennsylvania Dutch language after taking four years of German in high school.

Alex Williams, 25, of Seattle, is the assistant golf coach at the University of Washington. He previously served in that same capacity for the United States Military Academy at West Point, where the team won the 2011 Patriot League Championship. Williams was the Pac-10 Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2009 while at Oregon State University.

Chris Williams, 21, of Moscow, Idaho, won three collegiate titles in 2011 including the Sahalee Players Championship. He qualified for the 2011 U.S. Open and has qualified for match play in the 2010 and 2011 APL. Williams was a member of 2011 and 2012 USA Palmer Cup teams and the 2011 USA Walker Cup Team.

Chase Wilson, 21, of Zanesville, Ohio, was a youth state champion in Western Pleasure, a style of competition at horse shows in his native Ohio. Wilson’s parents train horses for a living.

Michael Trostel is the curator of the USGA Museum who also assists media relations at USGA championships. Email him at mtrostel@usga.org. 

 

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