Evening Report: Round 2
August 15, 2017 | PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif.
By Greg Midland and Ron Driscoll, USGA
The second day of the U.S. Amateur is focused squarely on a number: 64, representing the spots in the draw for the match-play portion of the championship beginning on Wednesday. By Tuesday afternoon, some players had come to realize that their U.S. Amateur dreams would be coming to an end, others knew they would safely advance and still others were on the bubble. It is one of the most compelling days in amateur golf, made even better by the grand stages of Riviera and Bel-Air. Here are some things to know about an exciting Round 2.
Conservative Approach Working for Wood
Hayden Wood followed up a 64 on Monday with a round of 67 on Tuesday at Bel-Air, setting a U.S. Amateur 36-hole scoring record with that 131 total. He credited his approach for his stroke-play success. “I’ve changed my course management. A lot more conservative. I felt like I've been playing well all summer, but sometimes I would get in my own way. The tournaments I thought I was really going to play well when the course fit me I would maybe be a little too aggressive.”
The 2016 Champion Pays a Visit
Australian Curtis Luck, who won the 116th U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is now climbing his way up the ranks of professional golf. He turned pro in April and has made 7 of 12 cuts on the PGA Tour this year, including a tie for fifth in the Quicken Loans National. But on Tuesday he was a spectator, taking the opportunity to watch his close friend from Australia, Kiran Day, play at Riviera as he tried to make match play. Before he walked the course, however, Luck took a moment to reflect on his signature victory so far.
“It means so much to be on this trophy,” said Luck. “It’s opened up so many opportunities for me in this past year, and so many great places to play and travel to, it’s been a crazy year but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
World No. 1 Niemann Shows His Mettle
Joaquin Niemann, of Chile, is No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, thanks to hours honing his swing on the practice tee in his home city of Santiago. On Tuesday at Bel-Air, he showed another facet of his game: patience.
Niemann had just bogeyed the par-3 13th and double-bogeyed the par-5 14th hole at Bel-Air, his fourth and fifth holes of the day, which put him at a cumulative 1 over par. “I was just trying to think about the moment, about playing these two beautiful courses,” said Niemann, who will enroll at the University of South Florida in the fall.
Niemann reversed his fortunes quickly, rolling in a nearly 60-foot putt on his next hole, the difficult par-4 15th, then added birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 and an eagle on the par-5 first hole, hitting driver, 9-iron to 5 feet. “In five holes, I went from 3 over to 2 under and I said, whoa, that was quick. I’m getting better in that part of my game, just thinking about the present.”
He finished the day at 3-under 137, tied for sixth as the afternoon wave was completing play. As it turned out, thinking about the present brought match play very clearly into Niemann’s immediate future.
The Real Moving Day
A handful of notable players rebounded impressively from disappointing first rounds to get themselves safely into match play. Leading that group are Edwin Yi, of Eugene, Ore., and Cameron Young, of Scarborough, N.Y., each of whom improved by 11 strokes (75-64) to complete 36 holes at 1-under-par 139. Yi and Young played Bel-Air, which was averaging more than two strokes easier than Riviera on Tuesday.
Other competitors who made big jumps up the leader board and will make match play include Kristoffer Ventura (74-67), of Norway; Ricky Castillo (75-68), of Yorba Linda, Calif.; and world No. 2 Maverick McNealy (72-67), of Portola Valley, Calif.
Scoring conditions were ideal Tuesday morning, with overcast skies, virtually no wind and a trace amount of morning mist to keep the greens soft. By lunchtime, as it does most days here in the L.A. basin, the skies cleared and onshore breezes required the attention of players who began their rounds in the afternoon. The reason this happens is something called the “Catalina eddy,” named for Santa Catalina Island, the channel island closest to Los Angeles. It’s prevalent between April and September, and the result is that northwesterly winds along the California coast are directed onshore by the Channel Islands.
“As low-level temperatures warm during the morning hours, those higher winds gradually drop down to the surface,” said the USGA’s on-site meteorologist, Josh Nagelberg of Thor Guard Weather. “When the clouds burn off and skies brighten, a period of gusty winds will translate down to the ground, and winds can be magnified as air is funneled through local canyons such as the one Riviera sits in. This is why the winds have been relatively light when it's cloudy early in the day, but daytime heating mixes those stronger winds down in the early afternoon.”
Call Him Coach
It appears that only one of the mid-amateurs (age 25 and older) in the field will advance to match play: 27-year-old Justin Tereshko, of Greensboro, N.C., shot 71-69 to complete 36 holes at even-par 140. Tereshko is the head golf coach at Guilford College in Greensboro, and clearly both he and his young charges are having a positive effect on each other. The team has won two Old Dominion Athletic Conference titles under Tereshko’s watch, and the coach won the North Carolina State Amateur this summer by three strokes.
How Wide is a Golf Cart? Big Enough to Get Through the Tunnel
One of the more interesting historical footnotes to the history of Bel-Air Country Club involves the tunnels located throughout the course. One of them, which takes players from the fifth green to the sixth tee, was built in 1934. One version of the tale has the club losing a right-of-way easement through property that connected the green to the tee, while another version credited a member, oil magnate A.T. Jergins, with fronting the $12,000 cost of the 350-foot-long tunnel (through solid rock) so caddies would be spared the climb up a steep hill toward the sixth tee.
Either way, the tunnel’s width was established by loading up the club’s tallest caddie with two golf bags, and providing a comfortable right of way. When golf carts came into vogue a decade later, the Cushman Company sent representatives to Bel-Air to ensure that the carts were able to negotiate the tunnels. Thus was established the standard width of the modern-day golf cart.