Taiwan's Pan leads U.S. Amateur; Nicklaus MC


CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – Cheng-Tsung Pan of Taiwan shot a 5-under 65 Tuesday to put himself in position for a top seed in match play at the U.S. Amateur championship at Cherry Hills.

Pan, who plays at the University of Washington, finished two days of stroke play qualifying over the CommonGround and Cherry Hill courses at 7 under. That tied him with first-round leader Bobby Wyatt, who teed off later Tuesday to begin his second and final qualifying round.

The preliminary rounds whittle the field of 312 golfers to 64 for match play, which commences Wednesday on the 7,409-yard, par-71 course at Cherry Hills Country Club. Any ties at the end of qualifying will be resolved in a playoff.

Pan began the day tied for 19th after a 69 at Cherry Hills on the first day of qualifying. He moved up 18 spots with his standout performance at the companion course at CommonGround.

''I'm hitting the ball great, driving well,'' Pan said. ''Hitting irons well, and my long game is always good. I executed every shot well.''

Pan said he drew a lot of encouragement from his qualifying play.

''I feel good about these two rounds,'' Pan said. ''Gives me confidence going into match play. My goal is to win the tournament, and higher seeds always have an advantage.''

Meanwhile, Gary Nicklaus, the 43-year-old son of Jack Nicklaus and one of the oldest competitors in the amateur, shot a 74 at Cherry Hills for a two-day score of 4-over 145, leaving him in a tie for 117th place and out of match play midway through the final round of qualifying.

Nicklaus, a former PGA Tour pro who was reinstated as an amateur in 2007, had qualified for the Cherry Hills event after missing the 1990 event at the same course because of a heart ailment. He was an up-and-coming 20-year-old when he came down with pericarditis on the eve of the 1990 Amateur, forcing him to undergo a week of treatment in the hospital instead of competing on the golf course.