U.S. AMATEUR
Dossey Continues to Make Himself at Home on Course No. 2 August 14, 2019 | PINEHURST, N.C. By Stuart Hall

If there are indeed horses for courses, Cooper Dossey is a thoroughbred when it comes to Pinehurst No. 2. (USGA/Chris Keane)

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Cooper Dossey sensed that something was amiss earlier this week at the 119th U.S. Amateur Championship. To confirm his suspicion, Dossey sought his father Paul’s wisdom.

“I asked him if it was normal not to have nerves at a big tournament like this, because I haven't had any nerves all week,” said Dossey. “Mainly because I'm confident here.”

For Dossey, home is Austin, Texas, but if he ever decides to relocate, Pinehurst would have to be on the short list. In June, Dossey, 21, won the 119th North & South Amateur Championship on Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2, site of this week’s championship.

On Wednesday, after earning the No. 4 seed in match play, Dossey defeated Baylor University teammate and roommate Travis McInroe, 4 and 3, in the Round of 64.

“I know I'm supposed to be here,” said Dossey, a senior at Baylor. “I’m not scared to play anyone this week. Just really excited to be back here. Good things have happened to me here, so I am just really trying to believe in myself and not let in any self-doubt this week.”

In late June, Dossey won the prestigious North & South Amateur. (John Patota/Pinehurst Resort)

There is no doubt that Dossey, No. 93 in the World Amateur Golf RankingTM, is a proven match-play competitor. With Wednesday’s win, Dossey improved his record to 6-0 in matches on Course No. 2. Also, he improved to 12-0 in match play since arriving at Baylor in fall 2016. In Thursday morning’s Round of 32, Dossey will encounter No. 29 seed Blake Hathcoat, of Fresno, Calif.

The complexities of the iconic Donald Ross design, which course architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore restored in 2014, provide the appeal for Dossey.

“It's so demanding off the tee and you have to be really creative out here,” he said. “You have just got to hit certain shots. It's a shot-making golf course, so I think being able to work the ball and be creative is why I think it fits my eye.

“It's really hard. Probably the hardest course I've ever played. I know that's what [U.S. Amateur medalist] Brandon Wu said the other day, and it's true. I think I shot 2 over [on Wednesday] and won 4 and 3. Other match-play courses you shoot that and you're probably losing 8 and 7.”

When planning his summer schedule, Dossey said playing the U.S. Amateur was in the back of his mind when registering for the North & South Amateur. But he did not expect to have this type of success. The point when Dossey settled into a comfort level with Course No. 2 was during his North & South 1-up quarterfinal win over Ricky Castillo, No. 9 in the WAGR.

Having family on Dossey’s bag for both championships has added to the home-spun feel. Brothers Luke, who will join Cooper on the golf team as a freshman this month, and Sam carried the bag in June. This week, his father and Sam are manning the bag.

“They keep me calm,” he said. “We don't talk about golf in between shots. They know my game; they know me. They keep me laughing, focused.”

They are not the only family who know his game.

Nub and Carolyn Donaldson, Dossey’s maternal grandparents, introduced him to golf around the age of 2 and have helped nurture his interest. The Donaldsons are certainly well-versed for that role as both are former USGA Rules officials. Also, Carolyn learned from fabled Lone Star State instructor Harvey Penick, while Nub had been Dossey’s swing coach until a switch to instructor Chuck Cook in May.

That move came at the end of a spring in which he was pain-free for the first time since 2016, because of a left-wrist injury that dogged him since he arrived at Baylor. A couple of cortisone shots alleviated the pain, but when it reappeared a third time, an MRI in October showed an extensor carpi ulnaris (ECU) tendon had displaced along with a triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) cartilage tear. Surgery was performed on Nov. 8 and he was sidelined through January.

“If you would've told me in November, when I was lying in bed every day, that I would be here right now I would just laugh at you,” he said.

His play on Course No. 2 this summer is no joking matter.  

Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA digital channels.

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