No Front Runner at US Amateur

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USGAA year ago, Ryan Moore entered the U.S. Amateur Championship as the overwhelming favorite. He had won the NCAA Division I Championship, the U.S. Amateur Public Links and the Western Amateur.
 
And after a week at Winged Foot, he added the most prestigious amateur prize of them all to his resume.
 
Luke List
Luke List, last year's runner-up, is back in the field.
As the 105th U.S. Amateur gets set to begin at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., there is no Ryan Moore in the field ' literally or figuratively.
 
In Moores absence, amateur golfs biggest titles have been divvied up among a group of accomplished players, all of whom are in this weeks field ' and all of whom may still need a bit of an introduction.
 
Theres James Lepp, the reigning NCAA Division I champion. The University of Washington junior shot 7-under 63 in the final round of the NCAAs to force a playoff with Pepperdines Michael Putnam, which he then won on the third extra hole.
 
Theres Clay Ogden, the Public Links champion. Ogden, a 20-year-old from Utah, defeated Michelle Wie, 5 and 4, in the quarterfinals of the Publinx en route to the title. He advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Am a year ago, losing to Moore, 2 and 1.
 
Theres Jamie Lovemark, the winner of the Western Amateur. The 17-year-old became the first player since Bobby Clampett, in 1978, to win the Western Am and the Western Junior. He competed in the 2003 U.S. Amateur, but failed to make it to match play.
 
Theres also Kevin Tway, the U.S. Junior Amateur champion and 17-year-old son of former PGA champion Bob.
 
All 10 members of the victorious U.S. Walker Cup team are in the stroke-play field, as are six of the 10 Great Britain & Ireland team members.
 
Among the U.S. Walker Cup notables are: Jeff Overton, who made the winning putt; University of Kentucky standout John Holmes; University of Floridas Matt Every, who was the low amateur at this years U.S. Open; Brian Harmon, this years Players Amateur winner; and Putnam, this years winner of the Byron Nelson Award as top senior college golfer.
 
The 6,846-yard, par-70 East Course at Merion Golf Club will serve as host this year.
 
Merion has hosted four U.S. Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, four U.S. Womens Amateurs, a U.S. Girls Junior, a Curtis Cup Match and the 1960 World Amateur Team Championship. Merion also has been selected to host the 2009 Walker Cup Match.
 
Bobby Jones made his U.S. Amateur debut as a 14-year-old at Merion in 1916. He then won his first U.S. Am in 1924 at Merion, and completed the single-season Grand Slam in 1930 at the same location.
 
Other past winners at Merion include Chick Evans (1916 U.S. Amateur), Ben Hogan (1950 U.S. Open; when he hit his famous 1-iron approach shot to the 72nd hole), and Lee Trevino (1971 U.S. Open; in a playoff over Jack Nicklaus).
 
The famed East Course has been closed to it members since July 31, three weeks earlier than scheduled. Officials have been working hard to fight Pythium blight, a fungus which forms due to excessive heat and humidity. It attacks grass on the greens, fairways and rough.
 
The course isnt expected to be in 100-percent condition when the tournament begins Monday, but officials dont expect the integrity of play to be affected.
 
There are 312 men in the field. They will play two rounds of stroke-play ' one round on the East Course and one round on the Philadelphia Country Club course. The low 64 finishers will advance to the match-play portion of the event. It takes six match-play victories to win the championship.
 
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