Blayne Barber, 21, Lake City, Fla.
Barber had a good showing in his sophomore season at Auburn, winning one event and recording six top-10 finishes in 10 starts. His strong play at the collegiate level landed him a spot on the 2011 Palmer Cup team, where he went 2-1-1 and helped the United States defeat Europe 13-11 at The Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Conn. This summer, he finished fifth at the Southern Amateur in July, third at the Northeast Amateur and advanced to match play at the U.S. Amateur.
Barber transferred to Auburn from the University of Central Florida, where he finished seventh at the NCAA Championship at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio as a freshman. He also finished second in the Conference USA Championship, finishing at 10-under-par 206.
Barber’s amateur career is highlighted by his win at the 2009 Florida State Amateur, where he blew away the field by nine strokes. He advanced to the second round of match play at the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chamber’s Bay, but lost to UCLA star Patrick Cantlay. Barber also qualified for the U.S. Junior in 2007 and the U.S. Amateur in 2008.
Patrick Cantlay, 19, Los Alamitos, Calif.
Cantlay had a stellar freshman season at UCLA, winning three collegiate events and being named Pac-10 Golfer of the Year, first-team All-American and first-team All-Pac-10. He was named the recipient of the Jack Nicklaus Award, presented to the NCAA Division I player of the year, and the Phil Mickelson Award, presented to the freshman of the year.
Cantlay continued his strong play into the summer. He was the low amateur at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, tying for 21st place. He shot 60 in the second round of the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour, which set the record for the lowest round in a PGA Tour event by an amateur. He went on to finish 24th in the event. He also had a top-25 finish at PGA Tour’s AT&T National at Aronomink outside of Philadelphia and tied for ninth at the RBC Canadian Open.
Before going to the Canadian Open, he claimed the 2011 Southern California Golf Association Amateur in July. Then in August, he was the runner-up to Ethan Tracy at the Western Amateur, losing the final match, 1 down.
He currently is the top-ranked amateur, according to the World Amateur Golf Ranking supported by the USGA and The R&A. He will receive the 2011 Mark H. McCormack Medal, which is awarded to the top-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking following the completion of the European Amateur Championship or the U.S. Amateur Championship, whichever concludes later.
At the 2011 U.S. Amateur, Cantlay survived several close calls -- he beat Russell Henley in 21 holes after being down two with two to play and Max Buckley in 19 holes being down two with two to play -- before losing in the 36-hole championship match to Kelly Kraft, 2 down.
Prior to UCLA, Cantlay had an exceptional junior career highlighted by the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay, where he reached the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Peter Uihlein. He also played in the 2009 U.S. Amateur and U.S. Junior Amateur. Cantlay was named High School Golfer of the Year by the Orange County Register in 2009 and 2010 and won the 2008 Junior America’s Cup and Hogan Cup.
Harris English, 22, Thomasville, Ga.
English won the 2011 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course in July, becoming the second amateur (along with Russell Henley, a fellow University of Georgia Bulldog) to win on the Nationwide Tour this season. One week earlier, English won the Southern Amateur at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club near Tampa, Fla. Also this summer, he advanced to the semifinals of the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links in June at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon, falling to eventual champion Corbin Mills, tied for sixth at the Porter Cup and advanced to the second round of the U.S. Amateur. English was also a quarterfinalist in the 2010 APL at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C.
English njoyed an outstanding career at Georgia, where he won four events and was a three-time All-American, earning first-team honors his junior season. He earned All-Southeastern Conference honors all four years and was named SEC Freshman of the Year in 2008. English was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in each of his four years and was named a scholar athlete by Georgia in his senior season.
In 2007, English became the third-youngest winner of the Georgia Amateur behind Bob Jones (1916) and Charles Yates (1931). He reached the round of 16 in the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay and advanced to match play in 2007. English also played in the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2006, reaching the second round of match play.
Russell Henley, 22, Macon, Ga.
Henley became the second amateur in history to win a Nationwide Tour event when he won the Stadion Classic at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, Ga., in May. Henley continued his strong play into the summer by qualifying for the U.S. Open, where he made the cut and finished tied for 42nd. He tied for 16th place and also shared low-amateur honors with Scott Langley at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links.
At the 2011 U.S. Amateur, he advanced to the second round, where he lost a hard-fought, 21-hole thriller to Walker Cup teammate Patrick Cantlay.
Henley had tremendous success at the University of Georgia, winning seven collegiate events, which tied the school record set by Chris Kirk. In 2010, he was named Golfweek’s National Player of the Year, Southeastern Conference Golfer of the Year and won the Fred Haskins Award as the nation’s outstanding collegiate golfer after winning four events, including the SEC Championship.
Henley also played in the 2010 and 2011 Palmer Cups and had a 3-1 record to help the United States defeat Europe 13-11 in 2010 at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. The U.S. also won the 2011 competition at The Stanwich Club in Connecticut. He won the 2008 and 2009 Georgia Amateurs and qualified for the 2010 U.S. Amateur, and also advanced to the round of 16 at the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur.
Kelly Kraft, 22, Denton, Texas
Kraft completed a successful summer by claiming the biggest prize in American amateur golf, defeating Patrick Cantlay, 2 up, in the 36-hole championship match for the 111th U.S. Amateur Championship at Erin Hills. Cantlay came into the event as the No. 1-ranked amateur, according to the World Amateur Golf Ranking supported by the USGA and The R&A.
He also became the third Southern Methodist golfer to win the Amateur in the last 13 years, joining Colt Knost (2007) and Hank Kuehne (1998).
En route to the final, Kraft eliminated 2011 USA Walker Cup member Patrick Rodgers in the quarterfinals, 6 and 5. Earlier that day, he survived a 23-hole marathon against Blake Biddle, the longest match at the Amateur in 11 years. In the semifinals, he beat Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup member Jack Senior of England, 3 and 2.
Prior to the Amateur, Kraft collected victories at the Trans-Mississippi Championship and the Texas Amateur Championship. He had previously won the Texas Amateur in 2008.
Kraft was also the runner-up at the 2010 North & South Amateur, losing in the finals to Donald Constable.
While at Southern Methodist University, Kraft earned first-team All-Conference USA honors in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He was also named an honorable-mention All-American in 2011, following seven top-five finishes during his senior season. Although he has completed his golf eligibility at SMU, Kraft said he plans to remain in school and finish his sociology degree.
Patrick Rodgers, 19, Avon, Ind.
It has been a strong 2011 season for the incoming Stanford University freshman. Since graduating from high school in the spring, he has posted a slew of top-five finishes, highlighted by his come-from-behind victory at the Porter Cup at the end of July at Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston, N.Y. Rodgers posted rounds of 68-63-69-68 and then rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to edge Wesley Bryan for the title.
Rodgers also had runner-up finishes at the Players Amateur, Junior Invitational and Terra Cotta Invitational. He added a fourth-place finish in the Northeast Amateur and finished third at the Jones Cup Invitational. In early August, he finished second in the 72-hole stroke-play portion of the 109th Western Amateur at North Shore C.C. in suburban Chicago, but lost in the first round of the match-play portion of the competition to his future Stanford teammate, Andrew Yun, in 21 holes.
Rodgers won the Indiana State High School Championship as a junior in 2010 and is a two-time HP Scholastic All-American. He was named a First-Team Rolex Junior All-American in 2009 and 2010 by the American Junior Golf Association and was Honorable Mention in 2008. Rodgers’ AJGA résumé includes nine top-10 finishes and a win at the SAP Junior Open in 2009. He has played in three USGA championships, advancing to the round of 16 in the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur, the round of 32 in the 2008 U.S. Junior and qualifying for the 2010 U.S. Amateur.
Academics are important to Rodgers, who ranked third in his class at Avon High School out of 582 students. He has written blogs about his experiences in junior golf for Golfweek magazine.
Nathan Smith, 33, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Smith is a three-time winner of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, in 2003, 2009 and 2010. He defeated Tim Hogarth in the 2010 final at Atlantic Golf Club, 7 and 5. Smith, along with Jay Sigel, is one of only two players to have won three Mid-Amateur championships.
This summer, Smith won the Sunnehanna Amateur in a four-hole playoff over Zac Blair and Lee Bedford. He also tied for 14th at the Azalea Invitational. Smith earned an invitation to the Masters because of his win at the Mid-Amateur, but he missed the cut. He also competed in the Western Amateur and just missed making the match-play cut (final 16). He lost out in a 20-for-4 playoff to get into match play at the 2011 U.S. Amateur.
Smith was a member of the victorious 2009 USA Walker Cup Team that defeated Great Britain and Ireland at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. At the Walker Cup Matches, he teamed with Peter Uihlein, and the pair went 2-0-0 in foursomes. Smith was also teammates with Uihlein on the 2010 USA Copa de las Americas Team.
Smith also helped Pennsylvania win the 2009 USGA Men’s State Team championship at Country Club of St. Albans outside of St. Louis. Along with Trip Kuehne, Smith is one of two golfers to play on a victorious Walker Cup Team, win a Mid-Amateur and win a USGA Men’s State Team championship in the same year. He advanced to the first round of match play at the 2009 U.S. Amateur and missed the match-play cut in a playoff at the 2010 U.S. Amateur.
Smith was a former Division III All-American at Allegheny College and works at Executive Wealth Counselors in Pittsburgh.
Jordan Spieth, 18, Dallas, Texas
Spieth joined Tiger Woods as the only players to have won multiple U.S. Junior Amateur titles in the 64-year history of the championship with his 6-and-5 win over Chelso Barrett on the Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club on July 23. His first U.S. Junior Amateur title came in 2009 at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
Spieth made the cut at the PGA Tour’s HP Byron Nelson Championship in 2010 and 2011 and was runner-up at the 2011 Jones Cup in Sea Island, Ga. He has international experience, having led the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team to victory with his undefeated record at the Gleneagles Resort in Scotland in 2010.
Although he missed the match-play cut at the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay, this year at Erin Hills, he easily qualified and advanced to the quarterfinals, where he fell to Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup selection Jack Senior of England, 1 down.
An accomplished junior, Spieth was the 2009 Rolex American Junior Golf Association Player of the year. His impressive AJGA resume includes five victories and 18 consecutive top-10 finishes. He will play golf at the University of Texas in the fall.
Peter Uihlein, 21, Orlando, Fla.
Uihlein is one of the most decorated amateur golfers in the United States, highlighted by his 4-and-2 victory at the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay over David Chung…Momentum carried into his junior season at Oklahoma State, where his strong play earned him the 2011 Ben Hogan Award, which is given by the Golf Coaches Association of America to the top men’s college golfer in any division on the basis of his performance in all collegiate and amateur competitions during a 12-month period. Uihlein was also named Big 12 Player of the Year and first-team All-Big 12. In his career at Oklahoma State, Uihlein has totaled five victories and has two top-three finishes at the NCAA Championship.
Uihlein played in the 2009 Walker Cup, where he had a 4-0-0 record and helped lead the USA to victory at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa…His singles victory on Sunday clinched the Cup for the USA…Also helped the USA finish third at the World Amateur Team Championship in Argentina last fall…Also a member of USA Copa de las Americas Team that won the overall title (men and women) in Argentina in January of 2010.
In 2010, Uihlein won the Sahalee Players Championship and won his second Dixie Amateur. That same year, he also received the Mark H. McCormack Medal, which is presented by The R&A to the top-ranked golfer in the World Amateur Golf Ranking at the end of the amateur season.
This summer, Uihlein won the Northeast Amateur by three strokes, tied for ninth at 2011 Nationwide Tour’s Children’s Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Western Amateur before losing to Patrick Cantlay on the 19th hole. Having won the U.S. Amateur, he gained exemption into the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open Championship, making the cut and finishing T-48 in the British Open at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England, and missing the cut in the other two He was a quarterfinalist in 2009 U.S. Amateur at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
In his title defense at the U.S. Amateur, he advanced to the quarterfinals before falling to Jordan Russell, 2 and 1.
Chris Williams, 20, Moscow, Idaho
Williams will be a junior at the University of Washington this fall. He owns three career collegiate wins, which is one shy of the school record. This past season, he won the Oregon Duck Invitational. Williams won the Phil Mickelson Award in 2010, which is given to the nation’s best freshman golfer. That year, he won two collegiate events and was also named Pacific-10 Conference Freshman of the Year.
This summer, Williams was the medalist at the Gold Mountain Golf Club sectional in Bremerton, Wash., and qualified for the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda., Md. His strong play earned him a spot on the victorious 2011 U.S. Palmer Cup Team, where he was undefeated and helped the United States defeat the European team.
He then went on to shoot a pair of 66s to close out a win at the Pacific Coast Amateur in late July before earning medalist honors with a 16-under 268 total at the 109th Western Amateur Championship held at North Shore Country Club in suburban Chicago. Williams carded rounds of 66-66-70-66 to win the 72-hole stroke-play portion of the competition by three strokes over Patrick Rodgers before losing in the first round of match play to Patrick Cantlay.
At the 2011 U.S. Amateur, Williams advanced to the second round of match play before dropping a 1-down decision to Max Buckley.
Williams also won the 2011 Sahalee Players Championship by one stroke over Zac Blair and future University of Washington teammate Cheng-Tsung Pan.
Williams was a quarterfinalist at the 2010 U.S. Amateur Public Links and lost to eventual champion Lion Kim. He also advanced to the round of 32 at the 2011 APL at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Ore.