U.S. Amateur losses leave Walker Cup race wide open

By Ryan LavnerAugust 20, 2015, 6:50 pm

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – The U.S. Walker Cup selection committee’s task just got a bit more difficult.

Three of the more talked-about hopefuls were eliminated Thursday during the Round of 32 at the U.S Amateur. 

Former Virginia star Denny McCarthy figures to lead the pack, but he was ousted by Canadian Austin James, 3 and 2. 

"It was in my control and now it's out of my control," he said. "I've done all I can do."

South Carolina senior Matt NeSmith, who won the Players Amateur earlier this summer, was thumped, 5 and 4, by NCAA champion and Walker Cupper Bryson DeChambeau.

And Wake Forest sophomore Will Zalatoris, who missed a crucial month this summer after recovering from an emergency appendectomy, lost, 3 and 1, to Hunter Stewart, who has already been named to the American squad. 

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

That’s likely bad news for the selection committee, which was hoping that at least one of the contenders would separate himself and make a run in the USGA’s most important championship.

Five players have already been named to captain Spider Miller’s team. Alabama star Robby Shelton figures to get one of the remaining five spots, along with Oklahoma State senior Jordan Niebrugge, who finished sixth at the Open at St. Andrews. 

Two mid-ams are required to make the 10-man roster, potentially leaving only one spot up for grabs. The USGA has almost always put that year’s American-born U.S. Amateur on the team, as well.

One of the most interesting cases is NeSmith, a former No. 1-ranked junior who wasn’t on Miller’s radar as recently as a few months ago. Then he tied for fifth at the Jones Cup, won the SEC Championship, qualified for the U.S. Open and won the Players Amateur.

“You always think about it,” he said. “I figured if I could get myself to the eight (quarterfinals), then I could give myself a really good shot. I didn’t quite get there.

“It’s been one of my goals. It’s the biggest thing you can achieve in amateur golf, to get to that highest level.” 

McCarthy, meanwhile, plans to turn pro sometime after the Walker Cup, with an eye on Q-School in November. 

"I think I'm ready," he said, "but I definitely need to get better. This golf course in this wind can expose your game a little bit, and I just didn't play well enough to win."

Getty Images

Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated” while taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor, he made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).

Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

“I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

“No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

Getty Images

Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

“We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

“Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

“We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.

Getty Images

Van Rooyen continues links run with impressive 67

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:27 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For Erik van Rooyen familiarity has not bred contempt.

The South African, like many European Tour players, has been on a links golf odyssey the last three weeks, playing the Irish Open, Scottish Open and this week’s Open Championship in consecutive weeks, and the crash course paid off on Day 1 at Carnoustie when he opened with a 4-under 67 to assure himself a spot among the early leaders.

Although van Rooyen missed the cut last week just down the coast at Gullane Golf Club, he entered the final round in Ireland with a four-stroke lead.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I didn't pull it off the final day,” said van Rooyen, who closed with a 74 to tie for fourth place. “I still think I played pretty well. I was nervous. That's completely normal, and I'll learn how to deal with that. I'll take that experience into tournaments like this.”

Van Rooyen, who was alone in second place when he completed his round, began his round with back-to-back birdies and was bogey-free until the last hole. It was just what one would expect from a player who has immersed himself in links golf for the better part of a month.

“We've been playing nice golf now the last three weeks, so definitely used to the way this course is playing, definitely used to handling the wind,” he said. “So I'll be ready.”