After playing 36 holes with 2013 champion Jordan Niebrugge,
20, of Mequon, Wis., and Davis Hangyerel Chung, 16, of Las Cruces, N.M., Garren
Poirier, 33, of Killington, Vt., was happy about his third appearance in the
APL. “I’m not going to lie to you,” said Poirier. “I was excited to be playing
“He’s kind of a big deal on the amateur golf circuit,”
Poirier added with a chuckle.
Niebrugge, who helped the USA to victory in the Walker Cup
Match last September, finished safely inside the cutline for the match-play
draw with rounds of 74-72. Chung, who is entering his senior year of high
school, ended 36 holes at even-par 142, in the top half of the 64-player match-play
field. Poirier shot 79-78 to miss match play by 10 strokes, but he was not
“I missed a few shots here and there, and you just can’t do
that in these championships,” said Poirier, who made match play in 2009 and
2010, losing in the first round each time. “These are the majors for sure, the
events you look forward to every year. My wife made me a cool plaque for my
player badges. I don’t know if the kids really appreciate it yet.”
Poirier, who works as a photographer and a bartender, also
competes to represent Vermont in the biennial USGA State Team Championship. He
will play for the Green Mountain State for the fourth time in September, having
accumulated enough points by finishing fifth in the State Amateur and making
the APL field. Poirier, who has also played in one U.S. Amateur and one Mid-Amateur,
enjoyed his “front-row seat” the past two days.
“It’s fun to see guys who are really good and watch how they
compose themselves,” said Poirier. “[Niebrugge] was able to hold it together
and keep himself right in there. I enjoyed Davis as well; he’s a good kid.”
Having relished his opportunity in Kansas, it’s on to the
New England Amateur Championship next week for Poirier, then a qualifier for
his next “major,” the U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Niebrugge Battles His
Way to Match Play
Starting on the 10th hole, defending champion Jordan
Niebrugge made the turn on Tuesday morning at 6 over par, which would have left
him outside the cutline for match play (11 players ended up playing off for
seven spots at 5 over). However, he made three birdies on his inward nine
against one bogey to set up a first-round match at 9:40 a.m. CDT against
Zecheng Dou, of the People’s Republic of China.
“I had work to do on the back nine,” said Niebrugge, who
tied for 27th last weekend at the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour. “I just
decided to give it all I could, and I gave myself birdie opportunities on eight
of the nine holes.”
Niebrugge started with a birdie on No. 1, a 484-yard par 4 into
the wind. Niebrugge made two more birdies before he flew the green with a
6-iron approach on the 443-yard par-4 8th and failed to get up and down from a
tough lie. The bogey late in his round didn’t end up costing him, however.
“There’s not much difference in my game from the John Deere
to here,” said Niebrugge, who altered his strategy and used more 3-wood tee
shots on Tuesday. “I could get away with hitting errant shots there and you
can’t really do that here – there’s water and fescue out here. I started
hitting the ball a lot better off the tee on the final nine.”
Co-Medalist Guides Friend
into Match Play
After three-putting from 6 feet on his final hole in the
second round to fall to 5-over 147 and into an 11-way playoff to determine the
final seven seeds for match play, Joshua Lee needed a lift. A spark came in the
form of co-medalist Doug Ghim, who served as Lee’s caddie in the playoff.
“We’re family friends,” said Lee, of Fleming Island, Fla.
“My father was too tired to caddie so Doug’s dad told my dad that Doug would do
Ghim, of Glendale, Ariz., helped his friend to pars on the
first two playoff holes, setting up a showdown against Talon Supak and David
Pastore. After Lee hit his second shot on the 411-yard 12th hole just short of
the green, he faced an uphill chip of about 20 feet.
“It’s a little right to left,” counseled Ghim. “Just take
your 52-degree wedge and land it on the green.”
Lee complied perfectly, and the ball rolled into the middle
of the hole.
As good as the chip was, it was far from the best shot
during the playoff. On the second hole, Vinnie Murphy holed an 88-yarder for
eagle to advance to match play.
Despite two double bogeys, Michael Gellerman of Sterling, about
60 miles northwest of Newton, shot 71 for a total of 145 and was the only
Kansan to make match play… Conditions were relatively calm all day, but the
second-round scoring average was 74.83, just 0.17 strokes lower than the first
round, when the wind picked up in the afternoon… Thirty-eight of the 64 players
who qualified for match play – and 15 of the top 16 finishers – played early in
the first round and late in the second round, helped by calm conditions both
days… Through two days of stroke play, only one hole – the par-4 18th –
finished with a scoring average under par (3.92)… The most difficult hole was
the 16th, a par 4 that measured 494 yards in the first round and 484 yards in
the second; it played to an average of 4.49.
Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hunki Yun and Mike Trostel of the USGA