Erin, Wis. – People are known to take various things to help them sleep at night. But Cory Whitsett found something that works a lot better than any sleeping pill. He slept like a champ Wednesday night, sufficiently sedated by a 3-up lead at the 2011 U.S. Amateur.
Whitsett, the 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, won the 10th hole at Erin Hills to go 3 up in his first-round match with David Kim when darkness suspended play on Wednesday. The University of Alabama sophomore then returned to his hotel for a good night's sleep and a three-hole advantage tucked under his pillow.
That was big, the Houston native said. Three is a lot different than two. It was a lot easier to relax last night.
Fortified with a nice lead, Whitsett matched Kim with a birdie right out of the box on No. 11 on Thursday morning, then made par at No. 13 to maintain a 4-up lead with five holes to play. At that point, the left-handed-swinging Whitsett put the gas pedal down further, making birdies at Nos. 14 and 15 to seal a 5-and-3 win.
The 19-year-old Whitsett is no stranger to USGA championships. Not only did he win his Junior Amateur title at Boone Valley Country Club in suburban St. Louis, but he made a hole-in-one at the 2006 U.S. Junior Amateur at Rancho Santa Fe (Calif.) C.C. and competed in the 2008 Junior Amateur and 2007 U.S. Amateur, failing to qualify for match play in the latter.
He acknowledged his experiences in 2007 have helped him this week.
I definitely can draw from that, said Whitsett, who also has won the 2008 Western Junior and 2008 American Junior Golf Association’s Rolex Tournament of Champions.
But I know what the week entails from that experience. It's a lot of golf and you know that coming in. You know every match is going to be a good match. You're going to play guys who are going to be very good players. You can't relax. You have to remain the aggressor. You can't let down.
And if you happen to have a 3 up lead at curfew, all the better.