LORTON, Va. – It may be his first USGA championship, but Ian Davis doesn’t lack experience on the big stage.
The senior at Oklahoma State carded a 1-under 69 on Tuesday for a 36-hole total of 6-under 134 to take the clubhouse lead for medalist honors during the stroke play portion of the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Laurel Hill Golf Club. Davis was part of the morning wave and will now wait while the other half of the field completes their rounds to find out where he stands.
Eric Sugimoto followed his record-tying, first-round 63 with a 2-over 72 and is one stroke back at 135, followed by Sam Horsfield and Nicholas Scott at 136.
Highlights of Davis’ round included birdies on all three par 5s, including an up-and-down from just over the green on the ninth, his final hole of the day.
Davis had an excellent junior season at Oklahoma State. He won the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in Dallas in October 2012 and finished eighth in the NCAA Division I Championship. His assistant coach, Brian Guetz, is his caddie this week and has the 21-year-old, Edmond, Okla., native brimming with confidence.
“I was trying to come in under par today and with that birdie on [No. 9], I was able to do it,” said Davis, who also advanced through sectional qualifying on July 8 for next month’s U.S. Amateur, which will be held at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. “I actually felt like I hit the ball a little better today, but couldn’t get a few putts to drop. Overall, I’m very happy with how I’m playing.”
As for the possibility of being a medalist in his first USGA championship?
“It would be pretty cool,” admitted Davis, “but coming into the week my plan was just to get into match play, whether that’s as a medalist or the [No. 64 seed]. That’s when the championship really starts.”
Sugimoto failed to sustain the momentum from his opening-round 63. With the 36-hole stroke-play record within grasp at the start of Tuesday’s round, the 19-year-old from San Diego bogeyed three consecutive holes starting at No. 4. He birdied the short par-4 10th for the second day in a row, then finished with eight straight pars to post 72.
“I started off with a couple of bad shots and put myself in some not-so-ideal places,” said Sugimoto, of his three straight bogeys, “but I stayed patient and avoided any mental errors or big numbers coming in.”
The low round of Tuesday morning belonged to Horsfield, of England, whose 66 gave him a two-day total of 4-under 136. One of the youngest players in the field at age 16, Horsfield double-bogeyed the third hole, but birdied six of his last 10 holes, including all three par 5s, to surge up the leader board.
Likewise, Scott, 20, of Union, Ohio, birdied three of his last six holes for a second-round 67. After being two over through six holes in his opening round, Scott made just one bogey over his final 30 holes. This is his second APL and fifth USGA championship. He has made match play once, in the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur, but lost in the first round.
James Erkenbeck, the 2012 APL medalist, briefly had it to six under for the championship after a bogey-free 32 on his first nine, but two bogeys and a double bogey on his second nine sent him tumbling down the leader board.
Seventy-eight players remain on the course for the afternoon wave, including 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Garrett Rank, who opened with a 65, and the low amateur at last month’s U.S. Open, Michael Kim, who shot 69 on Monday.
The 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play with the low 64 scorers advancing to match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Saturday.
The U.S. Amateur Public Links is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Michael Trostel is the senior curator/historian for the USGA Museum. Email him at email@example.com.