Last One In, Bauchou Hopes to Build On Canadian Am Win August 16, 2017 | PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. By Michael Trostel, USGA

Rounds of 69-71 safely put Zach Bauchou into match play, just days after he earned a spot in the field. (USGA/Chris Keane)

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Zach Bauchou lagged his putt within 2 feet and huddled with his caddie, Andrew Barrick. Bauchou smiled and said five words to him:

“Oh, we’re going to California!”

Bauchou (pronounced BO-shoe) tapped in for a par to win the Canadian Amateur by one stroke on Aug. 10, earning the final spot in the 312-player U.S. Amateur field at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. His goal had been to get back to this championship after losing to the current top-ranked amateur, Joaquin Niemann, in the Round of 32 last year at Oakland Hills Country Club. Now he could breathe a sigh of relief; he had finally punched his ticket.

Bauchou may not have known he was playing in the U.S. Amateur until last week, but he has made the most of his trip to Southern California, posting rounds of 69 (Bel-Air) and 71 (Riviera), to earn a second consecutive berth in match play. This year, expectations are even higher as the 21-year-old from Forest, Va., is brimming with confidence after a scorching start to the summer.

In addition to his win in the Canadian Amateur, Bauchou finished tied for third at the Sunnehanna Amateur in June and the Southern Amateur in July. He has also shown a propensity to “go low.” He shot a 10-under 60 in the third round of the Sunnehanna and made 19 birdies and an eagle to lead the field in the Southern Am.

This week, he has made nine birdies, offset by nine bogeys, over the first 36 holes at Riviera and Bel-Air. Though he is still working on his consistency, that kind of horsepower could come in handy in match play.

“Having those low rounds earlier in the summer has definitely given me a lot of confidence,” said Bauchou. “If I get behind in a match, I know I have the game to dig out of that hole and come back.”

He credits his breakthrough summer in part to learning how to work the ball both ways, enabling him to get his approach shots closer to hole locations tucked in the corners of greens.

“I have always been a straight-ball hitter,” said Bauchou, “but this summer I’ve started hitting fades and draws depending on what the hole location calls for. It’s allowed me to hit more greens and be a little more creative by using the contours to move the ball towards the hole.”

Bauchou started playing the game when he was 6 years old, when his father, Edward, put a club in his hand for the first time. He competed in local U.S. Kids Golf events in Virginia and often practiced at London Downs Golf Club, a semi-private course in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 15 miles southwest of Lynchburg. His family lived on the 13th hole and Bauchou and his father played whenever they could.

“He would always take me out for nine holes before he went to work,” said Bauchou. “We’d get around in about 45 minutes. Then he’d go to the office for a while, but would come back and we’d play nine more at lunch.”

Edward, a registered chiropractor, didn’t have to twist his son’s back to keep him on the course. The younger Bauchou developed into one of Virginia’s top junior golfers before enrolling at Oklahoma State University, one of the top golf programs in the country.

Four of his teammates from the 2016-17 team qualified for the 2017 U.S. Amateur, including Hayden Wood, whose 9-under 131 established a stroke-play record for the championship. Bauchou will attempt to join Labron Harris (1962), Scott Verplank (1984), Hank Kuehne (1998) and Peter Uihlein (2010) as U.S. Amateur champions who attended Oklahoma State.

A week ago, Bauchou didn’t think he would be traveling to California. Now he doesn’t want to leave.

Michael Trostel is the senior content producer for the USGA. Email him at mtrostel@usga.org.

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