JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The U.S. Amateur Public Links Trophy arrived at reigning champion Byron Meth’s San Diego home a few days before he departed for this week’s U.S. Amateur.
"It’s sitting in the corner of my room, looking all shiny," Meth said.
Meth’s name is – and will be – the last one listed on the James D. Standish Trophy, as the APL was contested for the 89th and final time last month. With his name already etched on one USGA trophy, thanks to his victory in 37 holes over Doug Ghim, Meth is now seeking to become the 114th winner of the Havemeyer Trophy, which will be presented to the winner this week at Atlanta Athletic Club.
"That would be a huge honor," he said of the possibility of being the final player to win both titles in the same year. Ryan Moore and Colt Knost, in 2004 and 2007, respectively, are the only players to accomplish the feat. "We just have to see how the week plays out."
Meth, 21, a senior at the University of the Pacific, completed the first step on Tuesday. He shot a 2-under-par 70 on the Riverside Course for a 3-under 140 total in the 36-hole stroke-play qualifying and will advance to Wednesday’s match-play bracket.
After making three birdies on the first five holes to reach 4 under, Meth admits that he began taking a conservative approach.
He called a bogey 5 on the 444-yard, par-4 15th hole, his sixth of the day, a smart bogey. At the 397-yard, par-4 fourth hole, on his inward nine, he saved par with an up-and-down from a back bunker that kept him at 2 under. He made a 50-foot birdie putt on the 430-yard, par-4 fifth hole to give him some clearance from the cut line.
"Then I just took conservative lines coming down the stretch and made sure I made pars and got in the clubhouse," Meth said.
Chris Hill, who became the University of the Pacific’s golf coach on July 1 and is caddieing for Meth this week, said Meth is in complete control of his game right now. By player and caddie estimation, Meth hit approximately 30 greens in regulation in two rounds of qualifying.
"He’s just one of the most mature guys I have seen out there," said Hill, who spent the previous four years as an associate coach at the University of Houston.
Meth says his golf maturity was born from befriending older players.
"One of my youngest friends is Tyler Torano, and he’s a year older than I am," said Meth of Torano, 22, who posted a 36-hole score of 1-over 144 in stroke-play qualifying. "But most of the guys I grew up practicing with were at least two, three or four years older than me."
"They were better than me," he said. "If I could hang with them, I could definitely hang with the guys my age."
Right now, Meth is holding his own quite nicely.
USC’s Smith Tackles Latest Puzzle: A Golf Career
Paul Smith, 21, is entering his second year at the University of Southern California, where he plays on the golf team. Among his accomplishments are helping Turlock (Calif.) High to four conference titles, twice being named his high school district’s player of the year, and solving a Rubik’s Cube in 92 seconds.
All the players have accomplishments they list on their bios, said Smith with a chuckle. First-team All American, won this tournament, whatever... I haven’t won anything, so I put in the Rubik’s Cube. One of my friends saw it and said, ‘Nice bio, Paul.’
The Rubik’s Cube mention is eclectic, yes, but nonetheless true, according to Smith.
"Once you memorize the algorithm, it’s pretty easy," he explained. "There are eight or nine stages involved in solving it; I figured it out in a month or two. I can actually solve it in under a minute now."
Smith also got a piano last year and is trying to learn how to play it with the help of YouTube videos.
"I know one song, and I’d like to learn more, because playing the piano is awesome – but that’s not my main focus," said Smith, who landed at USC after two years at California State-Stanislaus, where he was a Division II All-America honorable mention. Smith’s older brother, Sam, also played golf at USC.
"I told the coach [Chris Zambri] that I wanted to go to USC and he told me they had a spot for me – I just had to earn it," said Smith. "I knew the coach, the players and the campus – it was a great fit for me."
Now that he has graduated, Smith’s older brother doesn’t play much anymore. He’s a cross-fit trainer who hopes to return to USC’s physical therapy program and earn an advanced degree. Smith hopes that they will both be in school there next year, as Smith finishes up his bachelor’s degree. There is no doubt of Smith’s post-grad ambition.
"If golf doesn’t work out, I need to have a Plan B," he said. "But in the meantime, I will pursue golf for a couple of years and see what happens. When I was younger, I never practiced; I just relied on natural talent. Each year, I am practicing more and getting better and better. I don’t think I’m even close to my potential – my mental game isn’t nearly where it needs to be."
Smith managed only one birdie over two stroke-play rounds, finishing at 74-78–152. The golf puzzle is a work in progress.
Jacobs Draws Inspiration From 2012 Winner Fox
The week before Steven Fox won the 2012 U.S. Amateur Championship, he and Carson Jacobs played a casual round.
Last week, the longtime friends, both of Hendersonville, Tenn., played another casual round. Jacobs is hopeful this may be his year to win the U.S. Amateur.
The players have known each other for nearly eight years, having played one year together on the Hendersonville (Tenn.) High School golf team. Fox went on to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, while Jacobs is a junior at Vanderbilt University.
"We’re pretty good friends; when he went off to college we didn’t stay in touch much until the summer," said Jacobs, 20. "I wouldn’t say we’re best friends, but we’re pretty good friends."
Jacobs, who is making his USGA championship debut, said Fox imparted very little wisdom last week.
"He just said play your game, don’t do anything different," he said, "and that’s what I have been trying to do."
Jacobs shot a 3-under 69 on the Riverside Course on Tuesday to finish with a 4-under 139 score in stroke-play qualifying.
"My expectations were to go as far as I felt like I could and just play well and see where it took me," Jacobs said. "Didn't really set a limit. Obviously playing in a tournament, you would like to win, and go in with the mindset, just take it one hole at a time."
From Coach to Caddie for Kennesaw’s Moseley
For three years, Jay Moseley has served as Jimmy Beck’s head coach at Kennesaw State University, dispensing a range of counsel.
This week, though, Moseley is caddieing for Beck at the U.S. Amateur, and following the caddie mantra of show up, keep up, shut up."
"I’m just trying to keep him as calm as possible and he does that pretty well himself," said Moseley of Beck, 21, a senior from Columbus, Ga. "It’s very low maintenance on my part. He’s been very well groomed. His dad has taught him from the day he could walk how to play this game; [Jimmy] understands this game and knows what it takes to play well."
Despite a second-round 1-over 73 on Tuesday, Beck shot 5-under 138 in stroke-play qualifying to earn one of the higher seeds in the 64-player bracket.
"I tried to treat it just like any other day," said Beck of entering the day as an 18-hole co-leader. "Today was just as if I was going out with my buddies and playing. There's really no pressure.
"Once you shoot a number like [Monday’s 6-under score], you're just trying to get to match play, and then it's just make it to the next round. It was kind of relaxing in a sense, in that I didn't have to come out here and try to shoot a low number again."
Relaxing and relatively quiet.
"Very quiet, very calm, pretty much keeps to himself," said Moseley of Beck’s on-course demeanor. "I just keep up with him."
The union came about when Beck qualified and Moseley called to say he was available to caddie. Beck said the decision was easy, especially given that Moseley routinely walks alongside him outside the ropes during the collegiate season.
"He knows the game very well, knows my game very well, which helps a lot," Beck said. "Not really much for me to talk to him about. I just try and stay in my bubble and focus on what’s ahead and not get too far off topic."
Through two rounds, Beck appears pretty much on point.
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites. Ron Driscoll of the USGA contributed.