U.S. Amateur Stroke Play, Round 1: Live Updates
August 17, 2015 | Olympia Fields, Ill.
7:45 p.m. CDT: Round 1 of U.S. Amateur stroke play has concluded at Olympia Fields Country Club. Matt NeSmith's 5-under 65 is the low score of the day, with four players posting scores of 4-under 66. There were a total of 17 players who posted scores of 2-under 68 or lower; of those, 12 came on the South Course, which finished Monday with a stroke average of 73.295 to the North Course's 74.506. After Round 2 of stroke play on Tuesday, the field will be cut to the low 64 players for match play. Keep up with the scores here.
6:40 p.m. CDT: A pair of mid-amateurs are making their presences felt at Olympia Fields. Scott Harvey, the reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, and 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Garrett Rank, both posted scores of 2-under 68 on the South Course during Round 1. Rank, 27, a professional hockey referee who made his NHL debut in January, advanced to the Round of 32 in the U.S. Amateur last year, while Harvey, 37, reached the semifinals with fellow U.S. Amateur competitor Todd Mitchell in the inaugurual U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in May.
5:05 p.m. CDT: As is to be expected, the U.S. Amateur field is filled with competitors who play for some of the most prominent collegiate programs in the country. The University of Florida, University of South Florida and University of Southern California lead the way this, with five current or former players from each school teeing it up at Olympia Fields. From a conference perspective, the Atlantic Coast Conference leads the way with five member schools that have at least three players in the field. See where your school stacks up:
Update: With the addition of transfer Matt Oshrine, Duke also has competitors in the U.S. Amateur, as well.
4:12 p.m. CDT: Several players in the field should feel very comfortable with the Midwest landscape here at Olympia Fields. One of them is Jordan Niebrugge, who hails from the Milwaukee suburb of Mequon, Wis., approximately two hours north of the host venue. Niebrugge began his first round from Hole #10 on the South Course and made the turn at 2 under par. After winning the 2013 U.S. Public Links Championship earning honorable mention All-America honors during his sophomore year at Oklahoma State, Niebrugge is rediscovering his game and was the low amateur at last month's Open Championship at St. Andrews. The 2013 Walker Cup Team member would like nothing more than to go deep in the U.S. Amateur so close to his home state, and in a year that has already been very special.
3:12 p.m. CDT: Both courses at Olympia Fields are stern tests of golf. The South Course predates the North Course by eight years (1915 vs. 1923), but the North Course hosted the U.S. Senior Open in 1997 and the U.S. Open in 2003. The bottom line: Olympia Fields' championship legacy is well-established, as seen in this video.
With the morning wave (156 players) done with their first rounds and the afternoon wave well underway, so far the North Course is playing slightly more difficult than the South, (74.192 stroke average vs. 73.474). A couple players have commented that while the longer North Course is a bit more demanding overall, the South Course is a bit tighter and requires precise shotmaking. Stay tuned to see how the final numbers play out, and follow along with course statistics updated in real-time during the two stroke play rounds of the championship.
2:05 p.m. CDT: Ryan Ruffels, of Australia, has the lowest score so far on the North Course, a 4-under 66. The 17-year-old credited his good feelings today at least in part to fellow countryman Jason Day's win at the PGA Championship yesterday, which happily interrupted the practice round he was having with fellow team members of Golf Australia.
"Everything stopped at about 3:00 yesterday," said Ruffels. "We all ducked inside to the clubhouse and watched it. It's funny, we all kind of feed off that a little bit. He’s pretty young, and kind of came along the same path we’re on. It was awesome to see him win."
Just a few weeks ago Ruffels played in his first PGA Tour event, the RBC Canadian Open, which Day won. Ruffels drew inspiration seeing the star up close.
"I was lucky enough to have a practice round with him," said Ruffels. "He’s a great guy and an even better golfer, and he deserves everything coming to him."
Perhaps one day Ruffels, with his burgeoning talent and the support of Golf Australia, will have some of those same things coming his way.
12:50 p.m. CDT: There is a familiar face at the top of the leader board at the U.S. Amateur. Lee McCoy, who was the stroke-play co-medalist in 2014 at Atlanta Athletic Club, has found his comfort zone at Olympia Fields, as well, firing a 4-under 66 on Monday morning on the South Course. McCoy, who competed in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, is trying to avoid a repeat of last year, however, as he would go on to fall in the Round of 64 to four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith. His start on Monday morning was a rocky one, but he would recover nicely:
12:15 p.m. CDT: Small Group of Amateur Competitors Share Common Qualifying Experience (By Stuart Hall)- Andy Ogletree and Noah Goodwin are members of a small fraternity of players who advanced through sectional qualifying to play in both last month’s U.S. Junior Amateur in Bluffton, S.C., and this week’s U.S. Amateur.
Each had a unique perspective on the journey.
"I felt like the Am [qualifier] was a little more laid back and the Junior Am was a bit more serious,” said Ogletree, 17, of Little Rock, Miss., who earned entry into the U.S. Amateur as an alternate after fellow sectional qualifier Philip Barbaree became a U.S. Junior Amateur finalist. “It seemed like some of the guys at the Am were there for fun. So the Junior Am was harder, but the Amateur took the lower scores."
Goodwin, 15, of Corinth, Texas, the third youngest player in the field, played no favorites.
"It’s brutal out there,” he said. "You have to go out there and make birdies and take one shot at a time. It’s a very long day.”
The other six players are Bryan Baumgarten, 17, of Granite Bay, Calif.; Eugene Hong, 15, of Sanford, Fla.; Brandon Mancheno, 15, of Jacksonville, Fla.; David Snyder, 17, of McAllen, Texas; Tyler Strafaci, 17, of Davie, Fla.; and Will Thomson, 14, of Pittsford, N.Y., who also made it into the field as an alternate.
11:05 a.m. CDT: Another player to climb up to the top of the leader board early during stroke play is Matt NeSmith, who carded a 4-under 31 on his outward nine on the South Course. NeSmith is no stranger to playing at a high level; he advanced to match play in last year's U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club and was in the 2015 U.S. Open field at Chambers Bay. NeSmith is coming off a year in which he won the Southeastern Conference Championship while competing for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
10:20 a.m. CDT: One of five players to post sub-par scores for their opening nine is Frederick Wedel (-1), of The Woodlands, Texas. Wedel, who earned All-West Coast Conference honors this past year as a member of the Pepperdine University men's golf team, was a semifinalist in last year's U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club. While he fell in 19 holes to eventual champion Gunn Yang in the semis, his shot on No. 18 to force the extra hole was certainly a memorable one. He recently looked back on that shot, and his U.S. Amateur run.
9:40 a.m. CDT: The early groups are starting to make the turn, and the early low score belongs to Nicholas Ross, who carded a 2-under 33 on his first nine. Ross, who began his Amateur appearance on hole No. 10 of the South Course, is one of 11 players in the field to hail from Canada, the most of any foreign country. Score updates can be found here.
8:50 a.m. CDT: Among those to have just started their first rounds of stroke play is Cole Hammer. Hammer, 15, is one of 13 U.S. Amateur competitors who were in the 2015 U.S. Open field at Chambers Bay, six of whom made the cut. 2015 has been a big year for amateurs on golf's most visible stages, as Stuart Hall wrote on Sunday.
8:00 a.m. CDT: Play is underway in Round 1 of stroke play at the 2015 U.S. Amateur. Dan Stringfellow, of Roselle, Ill., hit the first ball on the first hole of Olympia Fields' North Course, while another player competing in his home state, Mack Foster (Knoxville, Ill.) was the first player off of No. 1 on OFCC's South Course:
6:55 a.m. CDT: The 115th playing of the U.S. Amateur Championship is set to begin at 7:00 a.m. CT at Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Ill. 312 players will be competing to add their name to the Havemeyer Trophy, which already includes names such as Bob Jones, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. The championship begins with 36 holes of stroke play, with 64 competitors advancing to match play.
Olympia Fields is hosting its fifth USGA championship. It is a two-time U.S. Open site, with the championship being staged here in 1928 and 2003, and has also hosted the 1997 U.S. Senior Open and, most recently, the 2011 U.S. Girls' Junior.