WHEATON, IL – UNC Greensboro rising senior Nathan Stamey carded his second consecutive 73 to advance to the match play phase of the 82nd U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Cantigny GC on Wednesday.
Match play was slated to start late Wednesday afternoon. With playoffs still being played for the remaining spots, UNCG’s Stamey was slated to face William Mitchell of Roswell, GA in the opening round. Stamey was seeded 17th after ties were broken, while Mitchell was 48th after barely avoiding the playoff.
Stamey was left to play 18 holes on Wednesday morning after thunderstorms cut play short for the second straight day. He had been slated to go out at 5:10 pm on Tuesday after rain had washed away half of the field on Monday. Stamey was one of the 78 players to finish on Monday, carding a 73. But thunderstorms stopped play shortly before 4 pm CT on Tuesday. Play was haulted for the day at 6:15 pm local time, pushing Stamey’s second round back to Wednesday.
Stamey, competing for the second straight year, earned a No. xx seed in match play. Last year, Stamey failed to make it past the qualifying rounds, carding rounds of 81 and 76 to finish 13-over par. Last year’s event was played at Gold Mountain GC in Bremerton, WA.
On Wednesday, Stamey got off to a fast start. He played the front side in 34, recording birdies on Nos. 1 and 7 to go along with seven pars. He started out strong on the back with four straight pars and a birdie on No. 14 to make it look like the Canton, NC native might even secure a Top 10 seed in match play. However, Stamey had consecutive bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16. Then, after knocking down a par putt on No. 17, he double bogeyed on No. 18 to close out with 39 on the backside.
Mark Harrell of Hazelhurst, GA took the medalist honors with a 36-hole total 139. Harrell’s 5-under 139 total was two strokes better than 22-year-old Clayton Rask of Otsego, Minn., Eddie Olson, 19, of Aptos, Calif., and Lucas Lee, 19, of Brazil. Harrell and Rask were grouped together for the two rounds of stroke play.
Danny Lee, 16, of New Zealand, a quarterfinalist at the 2006 U.S. Junior, finished three strokes back at 2-under 140, while Zack Byrd, 21, of Calabash, N.C. was four strokes behind. They were the only players to finish under par during stroke play, which carried over to Wednesday due to weather suspensions on Monday and Tuesday afternoon.
Harrell, a rising senior at the University of Alabama who missed the cut at last month’s U.S. Open by one shot, is no stranger to doing well in stroke play. At the 2006 U.S. Amateur, he was the No. 2 qualifier, only to get beat by former Georgia Tech All-American Roberto Castro, 3 and 2.
Defending champion Casey Watabu, 24, of Kapaa, HI, had a roller-coaster first two rounds, making a quintuple-bogey 10 on the par-5 seventh hole in his first round Tuesday and coming back to shoot a 4-under-par 68 in round two Tuesday and Wednesday for a 36-hole total of 4-over 148.
He shot a 5-under 31 on Cantigny’s second nine (he started on No. 10) and then double-bogeyed one and bogeyed three before play was suspended on Tuesday. He came out on Wednesday and missed a 10-foot par putt at No. 4. Then he chipped in for birdie from 70 feet at the fifth, rolled in a 30-footer from the fringe at six and got up and down for birdie at the par-5 seventh, the same hole, where he registered the 10 in round one. Watabu made the cut for match play by three shots.
There are a total of 156 players who qualified for the championship, 64 of which advance to match play. A total of 19 players had to play off for 16 spots to get the field down to 64 for match play.
In order for a player to be eligible, they must be of amateur status and not have regular access to a private golf course. Competitors must also have a USGA Handicap of 8.4 or less. The U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship was first played in 1922 and is one of 10 national amateur championships conducted annually by the USGA. Past U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship winners also include PGA veterans Billy Mayfair and Jodie Mudd.
In 2010, the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship will be played at Bryan Park GC just outside of Greensboro.
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