“I started hitting my drives really well and that put me in good
position in the fairway and I started taking advantage of that,” said Bae, 16,
of Cary, N.C.
Bae’s putting concerns were rendered moot, as he holed out for
eagle from 60 yards on the 377-yard, par-4 sixth hole and hit four more
approach shots to within “3 feet” en route to a championship-record 29 on his
inward nine, the first nine holes at The Club at Carlton Woods’ Nicklaus
“I really wasn’t thinking about what I was shooting,” Bae said.
“After my front nine, I knew I was pretty far back from making the cut, so I
just wanted to try and move up some and that’s all I thought about.”
Bae’s 29 capped off a 5-under 67 and a 1-under 143 overall score
that tied him for 18th and easily advanced him to Wednesday’s opening round of
match play. Bae missed the cut at the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur at Gold Mountain
Golf Course in Bremerton, Wash.
Bae’s round was the highlight on a day in which there were a
number of impressive scoring performances. Earlier in the day, Sean Crocker,
17, of Zimbabwe, tied the nine-hole championship record of 30 that had been
achieved four times previously.
Also, Bae, Curtis Luck, 17, of Australia, and Justin Suh, 17, of
San Jose, Calif., each improved their second-round scores by nine strokes to
move inside the match-play cut line. Luck shot a 66 to shoot a 3-under 141 and
tie for ninth, while Suh shot 69 (147 total).
Bae said he has posted nine-hole scores of 30 two other times.
“This is just a lovely course,” he said. “If you just put
yourself in a good position, you could take advantage of the hole locations,”
he did on his final nine on Tuesday.
Halvorsen Finds His Comfort Zone
Success has a
way of smoothing out difficult situations, as Andreas Halvorsen can attest.
Halvorsen, then 16, arrived at the Tom Burnett Golf Academy in St. Augustine,
Fla., from Larvik, Norway. He left behind family and friends to pursue his
dream of becoming a better golfer.
somewhat scared, Halvorsen said he “messed up” some early tournaments because
he thought his game did not measure up to his fellow competitors.
“But I began
to learn I could play with these other kids,” said Halvorsen, who shot a 4-over
148 and tied for 50th in the U.S. Junior Amateur’s stroke-play portion. “There
wasn’t just one moment or tournament where it happened. It’s been a
observers might say a rapid progression considering that since August he has
won five tournaments during the 2013-14 Future Collegians World Tour season. Additionally,
he won the St. Augustine (Fla.) Amateur, the Florida Azalea Amateur and an
American Junior Golf Association tournament. He also finished fifth at the
Terra Cotta Invitational in Naples, Fla.
helped that I got off to a good start,” said Halvorsen. “That got me some good
confidence and momentum and it’s continued to build.”
qualifying for the U.S. Amateur by a stroke, Halvorsen will play the Western
Amateur, July 28-Aug. 4, at Beverly Country Club in Chicago, before heading
back to the academy for his senior year. Halvorsen chose the academy after
meeting Burnett at a junior tournament in Germany that Burnett conducted a few
years ago. The two kept in touch.
“He has given
me a good opportunity,” said Halvorsen, who is mulling his post-school options,
admitting he has been contacted by several schools.
Halvorsen, who recently spent three weeks at home in Norway, is still adapting
to life in the U.S.
“It’s a long
way, so it’s not like I can take a weekend trip back home,” Halvorsen joked.
though, will continue to ease the transition.
The Recruiting Dance
was finishing the final stretch of walking 27 holes at the U.S. Junior Amateur
“I’m here to
see and have them see me,” said Sykes, the North Carolina State University men’s
golf coach who essentially summed up the fine line that players, parents and
coaches are navigating at this week’s championship.
field has attracted nearly as many college assistant and head coaches who are
tracking the progress of players who have either already committed or are on
their recruiting radar.
evaluating,” said Michael Beard, the third-year head men’s coach at Pepperdine
University. “Some guys you watch for a year and a half, and maybe sometimes
that is seeing to be seen, but most the time you are evaluating, getting to
know their games a little better.”
While NCAA recruiting
rules and regulations can often cause confusion, there is a simple rule of
thumb being used this week. After July 1, coaches are permitted to talk to the
parents of players who graduate in 2014 or 2015, but they cannot talk to those
respective players until after the tournament. All other players are off
That is why
coaches – many prominently wearing their school’s colors and team logo – are
often seen walking alone or among each other.
and kids spend a lot of money to get here, but they can’t talk to me,” said
Garrett Runion, an assistant coach at Louisiana State University.
That does not
mean some good does not come from the week.
State University head coach Ryan Donovan will follow a player for 18 holes and
not know whether he shot a 2-under 70 or a 2-over 74. At this point, he’s
looking to see what a player will do on junior golf’s biggest stage.
“How does he
respond after making a couple of bogeys? How does he respond after making a few
birdies? How does he conduct himself?” Donovan said. “By now, we have a good
idea of how they can play, but this is the bigtime, this is what they’re going
to be doing on a weekly basis in college.”
whole list of things we’re evaluating,” he said, “and all of that comes
together. Some of it is their mannerism, some of it is their golf swing, what
type of shots they are playing, what their ball flight looks like. You’re just
getting to know the player a little bit more. So even though we can’t talk to
them, there is still a lot we can do.”
interviewed agreed that their watch list is between 10 and 15 players, but
Donovan added that could be one or two players they are seeing for the first
these kids play or can afford playing all of the [junior] tournaments, so this might be some young player’s chance to show
what he can do,” he said.
of this week producing an unheard of talent, though, are slim.
has become so competitive that if you think you have found a diamond in the
rough, you can better believe there are plenty others who have found him as
well,” Beard said.
This week might
appear to be a chance for coaches to position themselves better in a potential
recruit’s eyes, but Runion said coaches are mostly respectful of their peers.
“For the most
part, we have a regional list of players we’re working off,” Runion said. “For us,
that’s obviously guys from the Southeast, maybe from Texas since it’s a
neighboring state, but you won’t find us trying to poach a kid from Washington
or somewhere too far out of our region.”
schedules vary depending on the coach, but that most coaches will have seen
most of what they came looking for by the end of Wednesday’s opening round of
Stuart Hall is a North
Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA