"It looks like we’ll be scrambling tomorrow,” said Bonneau,
43, who lost to Byron Meth, 6 and 5, in the semifinal round of the U.S. Amateur
Public Links Championship. “If I don’t make it, they don’t get to play. We’re
playing at a local municipal course, and you can be sure I’ll be taking a
The fact that Bonneau was discussing playing in any kind of tournament
the day after having completed seven days and nine grueling rounds – counting
practice – in the APL drew a shake of the head from his caddie, Mike Herold,
Bonneau’s next-door neighbor, who had toted the bag for all 149 holes.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” was all he said. Bonneau’s
announcement that his Saturday tee time had been moved back to 1 p.m. from 8
a.m. did little to reduce Herold’s incredulity. They planned to split the
driving on the 9½-hour trip back to Houston Friday night.
“That’s what golf is about for me,” said Bonneau, who added
with a chuckle of the Saturday game, “It’s gonna be a doozie.”
Bonneau is counting on a little less stress after qualifying
as the APL’s No. 55 match-play seed by grinding out a 76 in Tuesday’s second round
of stroke-play qualifying. He reeled off four consecutive match-play victories
to reach the semifinals against Meth, who used the same formula Bonneau had
employed against his previous opponents: get an early lead, and make your
opponent earn holes by making birdies.
“I jinxed myself by saying I hadn’t trailed all week,” said
Bonneau with a laugh. “He put me down right away with a couple of birdies, and
I don’t think he made a bogey after the fourth hole. I was on the other side of
it this afternoon.”
Bonneau, who described himself as a weekend golfer at his
home course, Black Horse Golf Club, in Cypress, admitted to hitting a wall on
Friday afternoon. “I got a little out of rhythm and hit three or four shots in
a row to the left, and before I knew it I was 4 down.”
Bonneau failed to make match play in his two previous USGA
starts, the 2011 and 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateurs. He admitted that the match-play
format was helpful to his game.
“To be honest, I’m so nervous standing up on half the tees
out here, I’m white-knuckling it,” said Bonneau. “I’ve hit some wayward shots
and made my share of doubles and triples out there, but it’s only one hole. If
this was stroke play and I was carrying a scorecard, I’d be heading home.”
Bonneau, who played one year of college golf at Southwest
Texas State, admitted that his game lacked one component that his younger
“As far as ball-striking goes against some of these younger
guys, I think I stand up pretty well,” said Bonneau. “It’s really noticeable
around the greens, the amount of time that they spend compared to me on
chipping and touch shots. It’s a big difference. Is my game in a state where I
can hit the shots that I want to all the time? No, it’s not.”
His Saturday scramble notwithstanding, Bonneau admitted to
being worn out by the rigors of the championship, though he said he found just
the ticket to withstand the rigors of championship golf as a 40-something.
“I went and bought one of those foam rollers,” he said. “A
buddy of mine named Chad Ginn [son of late PGA Tour Rules official Arvin Ginn]
told me that I needed to get one of those. I’ve been rolling around on it in
the mornings this week. It’s the key to the whole thing.”
Gellerman’s Caddie Kept
Him in Game
Although he’s not knowledgeable about the game, caddie Chris
Schneider helped local hopeful Michael Gellerman stay focused on his march to
the semifinal round.
Gellerman, who hails from Sterling, Kan., about an hour
northwest of Newton, lost to Doug Ghim, 1 up, in the semifinal round on Friday
afternoon. After winning his fourth match of the APL on Friday morning, he
discussed Schneider’s role.
“It’s so intense out there,” said Gellerman, a rising senior
at the University of Oklahoma. “You feel like you lose control about 1,000
times during a match. I’ve got a good caddie who’s out there trying to keep me
“Chris has been a family friend for a long time who was nice
enough to volunteer,” said Gellerman. “We didn’t even come over to the course
for a practice round. He’s not a huge golfer; he only plays a little bit. But he
knows me pretty well and he used to play basketball back in the day, so he’s an
athlete himself. He’s got plenty of fire out there.”
Gellerman was disconsolate over his semifinal defeat, which
was hastened by the four bogeys he made over the final six holes.
“Doug is a really good player and he’ll be very successful
in college,” said Gellerman. “He hit a great shot in there on the last hole to
beat me. But I made a lot of bogeys and gave away a lot of holes and that’s how
you lose. You can’t play mediocre golf in the semifinals against a great player
and get through.”
Gellerman acknowledged the support he received in his
“I had a lot of support from around Newton and that was
great for me,” he said. “I just couldn’t make it happen, couldn’t execute.
Recognizing a lot of people here gave me a bit of comfort.”
He also noted the presence of Sooner teammate Charlie Saxon,
who drove up from Tulsa for the semifinal match.
“That’s him over there,” Gellerman noted, then said with a rueful
chuckle, “Thanks for coming up for the loss.”
Michael Gellerman made par on the ninth hole during his semifinal
match against Doug Ghim, who also made par. Gellerman had made birdie on the hole
in each of his four previous matches, winning the hole each time… The ninth
hole, which was drivable at 306 yards, was won with a birdie in four of the six
quarterfinal and semifinal matches… The winner of tomorrow’s match will be the
11th medalist to win the championship... The last APL winner from Illinois was
2009 champion Brad Benjamin, while the last Californian to win was Tim Hogarth,
in 1996… Doug Ghim is 87th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking; Byron Meth is No.
Ron Driscoll is the
USGA’s manager of editorial services. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.