ERIN, Wis. – Bobby Leopold began his day by knocking off the No. 1 seed in the U.S. Amateur. It only got better from there.
The No. 64-seeded Leopold played his way into the third round of the U.S. Amateur on Thursday, knocking off Harris English, 4 and 3, in match play. English, from Thomasville, Ga., was one of the more established players in the field after he won a Nationwide Tour event in July.
That came just hours after Leopold pulled off his first upset of the day, beating tournament No. 1 seed Gregor Main of Danville, Calif., in the conclusion of the weather-delayed first round.
Not bad for a who guy who put aside his ambitions of playing professional golf a few years ago and now works for his father-in-law’s insurance firm.
“I kind of had aspirations to turn pro,” said Leopold, who grew up in England but now lives in the United States. “When I looked at the life I had, and the life I wanted, I decided I didn’t want to turn pro.”
Defending champion Peter Uihlein also advanced, beating South African Dylan Frittelli, 5 and 4, on Thursday. The Oklahoma State player overcame a slow start, making a putt to birdie the par-5 seventh hole.
“You’re going to have stretches of holes where things don’t go your way,” Uihlein said. “You have to grind and keep fighting. The first six holes I didn’t make a thing. I just wanted to keep going and make good strokes and hope they would eventually start falling – and they did.”
UCLA standout Patrick Cantlay advanced, winning a playoff with Russell Henley of Macon, Ga. – English’s Georgia teammate who also won this year on the Nationwide Tour.
Cantlay chipped in for a birdie on 17 to help force the playoff, and both he and Henley rolled in long eagle putts on the first playoff hole.
“It was the craziest match I have ever been a part of, and if you told me all that stuff would have happened the way it did, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Cantlay said.
After two rounds of stroke play earlier in the week, the remainder of the tournament is in bracket-style, match play format.
Weather delays earlier in the week have changed the tournament’s schedule. Players who hadn’t completed their first round Wednesday finished up Thursday morning, and the second round was played later in the day.
The third round was moved from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning.
Other winners included Jordan Russell of College Station, Texas; Scott Langley of St. Louis; John Peterson of Fort Worth, Texas; Max Buckley of Rye, N.Y.; England’s Tom Lewis; Blake Biddle of St. Charles, Ill.; Kelly Kraft of Denton, Texas; Patrick Rodgers of Avon, Ind.; Sunil Jung of Korea; John Hahn of Las Vegas; England’s Jack Senior; Ben Geyer of Arbuckle, Calif.; and Jordan Spieth of Dallas.
Leopold made the field as an alternate and didn’t find out until early last week that he’d be playing in the tournament. Now he’s playing a field packed with young players who still might harbor professional ambitions.
“I don’t really feel that old, but I guess 26 is the old guy,” Leopold said.
Despite pulling off a pair of upsets, Leopold doesn’t really consider himself a giant-killer.
“I think everyone on a given day can kind of beat each other,” Leopold said. “Harris didn’t have his best day, probably, and I had a good day. That’s golf. That’s the way it pans out. It’s a crazy game.”
Leopold was born in Albany, N.Y., but grew up near London. He moved back to the U.S. to attend college, and briefly thought about trying to go pro.
“I spent two months down in Florida playing as an amateur by myself,” Leopold said. “I don’t know. It wasn’t fun. Golf wasn’t fun anymore. You’re playing OK golf courses with people who basically want to beat each other’s brains out. If you don’t want to do that, then you fall.”
That short experience gave Leopold a glimpse of a life he wouldn’t like.
“I didn’t really fancy it,” Leopold said. “It could have been a long road.”
Leopold got married in 2009, when he said he was a first alternate to play in the U.S. Amateur but wasn’t selected.
“Which is probably a good thing, because it would have been conflicting with my wedding,” Leopold said.
He has a unique relationship with his caddie this week, Scott Cooke.
“He’s my boss, my caddie, my swing coach, my father-in-law,” Leopold said. “The list goes on.”