THE FLATS – Qualifying for the 121st U.S. Amateur continues this week with five Georgia Tech players attempting to gain berths in the championship at three different locations, while five other Yellow Jackets are entered in three big amateur events – the Southeastern Amateur, the Porter Cup and the U.S. Junior Amateur.
Today (Monday, July 19), rising senior Ben Smith (Novi, Mich.) is attempting to qualify at Walnut Creek Country Club in South Lyon, Mich., while rising sophomore Adam Bratton (Newburgh, Ind.) tries to secure a spot at Sand Creek Golf Club in Chesterton, Ind. Both sites will play all 36 holes in one day. Rising junior Connor Howe (Ogden, Utah) and sophomores Christo Lamprecht (George, South Africa) and Ross Steelman (Columbia, Mo.) are entered in the qualifier Tuesday and Wednesday (July 20-21) at Stonebridge Golf Club in Rome, Ga.
Former Yellow Jackets Noah Norton (Chico, Calif.), who graduated in May, and Bo Andrews, who now serves as assistant golf coach at Tennessee, have already qualified for the U.S. Amateur. Norton was the medalist at last week’s qualifier at the Capital City Club Crabapple course in Milton, Ga., while Andrews posted a runner-up finish at Longmeadow, Mass., a week earlier. Norton will be playing in his fifth U.S. Amateur. Another former Yellow Jacket, football wide receiver R.B. Clyburn, captured a spot in the championship at the Crabapple qualifier.
All U.S. Amateur qualifiers are 36-hole competitions, some conducted in one day, others over two days, with varying numbers of qualifying spots available. The 121st U.S. Amateur will be played Aug. 9-15 at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa., outside Pittsburgh. The last two U.S. Amateur champions have been Yellow Jackets – Tyler Strafaci in 2020 and Andy Ogletree in 2019.
Ben Smith looks for his second U.S. Amateur berth at Walnut Creek Golf Club in South Lyon, Mich. (photo by Tim Cowie)
THREE BIG EVENTS THIS WEEK
Rising juniors Luka Karaulic (Dacula, Ga.) and Andy Mao (Johns Creek, Ga.) and rising sophomore Aidan Kramer (Oviedo, Fla.) are competing in the Southeastern Amateur at Columbus, Ga., a 54-hole event that begins Wednesday at Columbus Country Club. Karaulic and Kramer both have victories under their belts this summer, Karaulic having won a GCAA Summer Series event back in June, and Kramer winning the Yamaha Atlanta Open in May.
Connor Howe won the Southeastern Amateur last summer, but is unable to defend due to U.S. Amateur qualifying this week. Tech has a long history of champions in this event dating back to Watts Gunn in 1921, Stanley Holditch (1934), Bill Eager (1936), Tommy Barnes (1936, 1946) and Seth Reeves (2011, 2013) before Howe captured the title last year.
Junior Bartley Forrester (Gainesville, Ga.) is the lone Yellow Jacket competing in the venerable 72-hole Porter Cup beginning Wednesday at Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston, N.Y. Forrester is the first alternate for the U.S. Amateur from the Crabapple site, where R.B. Clyburn beat him on the first playoff hole for the fifth and final berth.
Also, incoming freshman Benjamin Reuter (Naarden, The Netherlands) made his way to the United States and is one of 36 international players competing in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship that begins today (Monday, July 19) at the Country Club of North Carolina in the Village of Pinehurst. Thirty-six holes of stroke play begin today, after which the field will be pared to 64 players for match play beginning Wednesday. The 36-hole championship match is set for Saturday.
Reuter gained an exemption into the championship at one of the top 85 age-eligible players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (he is No. 375 overall in the world). The 18-year-old advanced to the Round of 16 in the Spanish Amateur and tied for fourth in the German Boys Open this year.
Three Yellow Jackets have won the U.S. Junior Amateur – Gordon “Bubby” Baker in 1958, Charlie Rymer in 1985 and David Duval in 1989.
Bartley Forrester is the lone Jacket competing at the Porter Cup this week in New York. (photo by Tim Cowie)
Connor Howe led three Yellow Jackets who survived the 36-hole cut at the Southern Amateur in West Point, Miss., tying for fifth place overall with a 13-under-par score of 271. That included a second-round 62 that gave him the 36-hole lead. He was in second place after 54 holes, but shot 72 on Saturday to drop to fifth. Howe shot a 61 earlier in the summer in round 2 at The Dogwood.
Sophomore Ross Steelman tied for 50th place after closing with a 66 for a tournament total of 282 (-2), and recent graduate Will Dickson (Providence, R.I.) finished 69th at 291 (+7). Christo Lamprecht and Ben Smith both missed the 36-hole cut.
Howe, Lamprecht, Smith and Noah Norton are entered in next week’s Western Amateur in Illinois.
— Southern Golf Association (@sgagolf) July 15, 2021
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ABOUT GEORGIA TECH GOLF
Georgia Tech’s golf team is in its 26th year under head coach Bruce Heppler, winning 65 tournaments in his tenure. The Yellow Jackets have won 18 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, made 29 appearances in the NCAA Championship and been the national runner-up four times. Connect with Georgia Tech Golf on social media by liking their Facebook page, or following on Twitter (@GTGolf) and Instagram. For more information on Tech golf, visit Ramblinwreck.com.