124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Making a long day a little shorter

August 27, 2009

__TULSA, OKLA.--__There's no getting around the fact that Thursday at the U.S. Amateur can be a long day, with second-round matches played in the morning and the third round contested in the afternoon. Wise to this, more than a few players decided to conserve some energy by making quick work of their opponents during the first session today at Southern Hills CC.

Among the most lopsided contests was__Mike Van Sickle__'s 6-and-5 defeat of__Trent Whitekiller__. Van Sickle won the first four holes (two with birdies) and was 7 up after nine.

By having a sizeable lead, Van Sickle could change his strategy off the tee, using more 3-woods and hybrids to make sure to stay in the short grass on Southern Hills' claustrophobic fairways. "I'm still not hitting any more than 8-iron [to the green]," says Van Sickle. "With my shorter clubs, I still have enough length and then have an advantage being a little more consistent off the tee."

"I've just been going out there and playing some good smart golf," he added, "giving myself a lot of birdie looks and making my guys work to halve holes."

Northeast Amateur champion Dan Woltman similarly didn't waste any time in his second-round match with Glenn Northcutt, winning five straight holes (Nos. 5 through 9) to make the turn 5 up before cruising to a 7-and-5 victory.

Other lopsided second-round matches included Marcel Puyat, a 16-year-old from the Philippines, taking down Illinois All-American__Scott Langley__, 4 and 3, and his Leadbetter Academy classmate__Byeong-Hun An__ beating Brett Kanda by the same 4-and-3 margin.

In contrast, Charlie Holland went all 18 holes in his match with Tim Jackson, but in the end the Texas senior knocked off the 50-year-old medalist, 1 up.

Holland was a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Amateur a year ago at Pinehurst No. 2. Asked what he might have learned from his run in 2008 that transferred over to this year and the 23-year-old from Dallas was blunt:

"Not to freak out when I'm down."

That advice paid off versus Jackson, when Holland was even par through three holes yet was 2-down to his opponent. Holland hung around, relying on a solid short game, squaring the match by the fifth hole and taking a 2 up lead on the 15th when he holed a 35-foot birdie roll from off the front of the green.

"He's a good competitor," Jackson said afterward. "I birdied two out of the first three holes and he never changed expression. He's a solid player. He's got a lot of maturity and he's got a nice game for this golf course."

Of course, he's also got an awful lot of golf left to play.

Following Holland in the gallery was someone who knows something about winning the U.S. Amateur: 2007 champion Colt Knost. The two played junior golf together and remained friends when Knost, two years his senior, went to school at SMU.

Knost got up at 5:30 this morning and flew to Tulsa, arriving a few holes into the Holland/Jackson match.

"It's nice to have somebody like that out there supporting you," Holland said. "I've gone to events of his and he's gone to events of mine. He's a good friend."