U.S. Amateur, Round 2: Five Things to Know
August 13, 2018 | PEBBLE BEACH, CALIF.
By Dave Shedloski
Every golfer loves the scenery here. It is never a good walk spoiled. That was true in the first round of the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship Monday, as plenty of players found two of America’s premier golf courses – Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course – highly challenging but also quite enjoyable. With views of the Pacific Ocean afforded from both layouts, who could not feel a tinge of tranquility, even amid the toil for pars?
But if they intend to enjoy further flirtations with the natural beauty of Pebble Beach in the match-play portion of this championship that starts on Wednesday, they’re going to have to knuckle down and make their scorecards look as attractive as the surroundings.
Good luck with that. Nothing came easily in Round 1 in the chilly summer air as only 27 players in the field of 312 broke par. Challenging golf and the added pressure of trying to make the cut should set the scene for an entertaining Round 2 on Tuesday. Here are five things to know:
Spyglass Hill Scoring
Players who struggled a bit at Pebble Beach on Monday have a tall task ahead of them to finish among the top 64 for match play, as they will be playing the more difficult Spyglass Hill in Round 2. The scoring average at Spyglass in the first round was a healthy 76.341, which was 1.5 strokes higher than what the other half of the field encountered at Pebble Beach. The good news is that of the 27 scores below par on Monday, 15 of them came at Spyglass. Go make birdies, fellas.
The 20-year-old from Inman, S.C., a junior at the University of Georgia, fired a 4-under-par 68 for the low round of the day at Spyglass Hill. The round is one stroke higher than the 67 recorded by Daniel Hillier of New Zealand at Pebble Beach, though they are both at 4 under par (Pebble Beach is a par 71). Given the difference in scoring that we alluded to above, this constitutes a slight advantage for Phillips in his quest for medalist honors in just his second USGA championship start.
Michael Thorbjornsen and Akshay Bhatia
These two friends just can't get enough of each other. Playing in consecutive groups at Pebble Beach on Monday, the U.S. Junior Amateur finalists shot matching 1-under 70s and are firmly in the picture for making match play as they move over to Spyglass Hill. Thorbjornsen, who defeated Bhatia, 1 up, at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., last month, is playing with 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Scott Harvey and reigning U.S. Senior Amateur champion Sean Knapp at 12:55 p.m. PDT, starting on No. 1. Bhatia goes off 10 minutes earlier at 12:45.
The Par-4 Second Hole at Pebble Beach
This hole plays as a fairly benign par 5 for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am every February, but the 501-yard hole was a rather beastly two-shot hole on Monday, yielding a meager six birdies. Meanwhile, 84 players made bogey or worse. The hole played to a 4.615 stroke average in ruining a bunch of scorecards. It’s important for the players beginning their rounds on No. 1 to avoid an early stumble.
Not that others couldn’t rally to reach match play, but the best hopes among the 25-and-older crowd lie in four players sitting 75th or better after the first round. Brandon Dalinka, of Margate City, N.J., who turned 25 in June, led the way Monday with a solid even-par 72 at Spyglass Hill. Also in the hunt is Garrett Rank, who earlier this year competed in the U.S. Open. The NHL referee had a 73 at Pebble Beach. Shooting 74, both at Pebble Beach, were Scott Harvey, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, and Brad Tilley, medalist in the 2017 U.S. Mid-Am.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA digital channels.