Curse of the US Amateur


Call 2004 the year of the curse of the U.S. Amateur winner. Ryan Moore, who won this grand old USGA title over the summer at Winged Foot, hasnt yet been affected. But he might do well to study the jinx that has been visited on this tournaments winners going back 10 years now.
Tiger Woods won the U.S. Amateur in 1994, 1995 and 1996. This year he lost his swing and his No. 1 world ranking. No tag days for Tiger anytime soon. But by Woods own lofty standards, this has not been a banner year.
In 1997 Matt Kuchar upset Joel Kribel at Cog Hill No. 4 near Chicago and looked to be on his way to long term success on the PGA Tour when he won the 2002 Honda Classic. But this year he has struggled. Currently, Kuchar ranks 146th on the PGA Tour money list. He has missed 15 cuts in 26 events and has just one top 10.
Hank Kuehne succeeded Kuchar in 1998, defeating Tom McKnight in the U.S. Amateur final at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y.. Kuehne has fared better than Kuchar this season'earning more than $800,000 in 28 events and ranking first on tour in driving distance. But hes still looking for his first official tour victory. Many believe hes overdue.
David Gossett is overdue to make a cut. The 1999 U.S. Amateur champ, like Kuchar, has won on tour thanks to his play at the 2001 John Deere Classic. But Gossett has missed 17 straight cuts this year and failed to break 70 in any of those tournaments.
Its frustrating, Gossett told the News and Record in Greensboro last week. Ive got to admit.
Jeff Quinney was next, in 2000, when he held off James Driscoll at Baltusrol. Quinney hasnt played at all on the big tour this year. On the Nationwide Tour he has missed four cuts in his last six outings.
In 2001 Bubba Dickerson defeated Robert Hamilton, 1-up, at East Lake in Atlanta to win his U.S. Amateur. Dickerson has played in five Nationwide Tour events in 2004 and advanced to the weekend just once.
Similarly, Ricky Barnes, who wowed everybody at Oakland Hills during the 2002 U.S. Amateur, has missed five of seven cuts on the PGA Tour this year where his last start was way back in May.
Nick Flanagan, the 2003 U.S. Amateur winner, has played in 10 tour events this season and missed the cut in nine of them.
What, exactly, is going on here?
Do you believe in curses?
Boston Red Sox fans do.
Since winning the 1918 World Series with Babe Ruth as a team member, the Red Sox have advanced to four World Series. They have lost all four in seven games. Conspiracy theorists have posited the notion that the Red Sox are suffering The Curse of the Bambino, because they sold Ruth to the Yankees after the 1918 season.
Lets hope nothing similarly sinister exists for recent U.S. Amateur champions.
Or as they say in Chicago, where the Cubs are equally frustrated and cursed, lets wait until next year.
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