Not a great day for the USA (Walker Cup team that is)
__TULSA, OKLA.--__I get accused from time to time by my Golf World colleagues of using the phrase "the vagaries of match play" too often in print. Admittedly, it is among golf's more well-trodden cliches. Still, if there is a better way to sum up just what happened in the first round of the 109th U.S. Amateur, I'm all ears.
Seriously, how do you explain the fact that four of the five U.S. Walker Cup team members competing at Southern Hills GC when play began Wednesday--guys who are supposed to be among the hottest players in the country--would wind up having to change their travel plans by day's end?
Give a gold star to Alabama sophomore Bud Cauley for being the only one of American captain Buddy Marucci's charges that will be playing again Thursday. Of course, that was only after he knocked off fellow Walker Cupper__Rickie Fowler__, 3 and 1.
"It came as a little bit of a shock," Cauley said about learning that he was going to face, Fowler, the top-ranked amateur in the country, after finishing tied for fifth in stroke-play qualifying. "You don't expect to [do that well in stroke play] and face a guy like Rickie Fowler. Obviously, I had to change my game plan. I wasn't going to be able to go out there and just make pars and play conservatively, like I planned to do."
Not more than 30 seconds after seeing the draw late Tuesday, Cauley says he received a text message from Fowler with two words: "It's on." Said Cauley: "I just told him to bring everything he had."
Indeed, it speaks to Cauley's talent (he won the Players Amateur this summer) that he could take out Fowler in what is the Murietta, Calif., native's last individual amateur tournament before he turns pro next month.
Morgan Hoffmann looked as if he would at least be joining Cauley as a first-round winner after taking a 3-up lead through 12 holes in his match with Charlie Holland. Yet almost inexplicably, Hoffmann began to stumble. A double bogey on the 13th was followed by a bogey on the 14th. Another bogey on 15 game after Hoffmann three-putted the green from four feet. Before Hoffmann knew what hit him, Holland had squared the match, eventually winning on the 19th hole with a par.
Brian Harman, meanwhile, took his opponent,Chris Ward, to extra holes after winning the 18th with a par, only to lose on the 19th. Not long afterward__Nathan Smith__, the lone mid-amateur on the Walker Cup squad, fell to__Zach Barlow__, 2 up after having a 3-up lead early in the match.
"It kind of wasn't meant to be, I guess," said Smith. "We'll pick up two more guys this week."
Indeed, while the guys who have already made the team fared poorly, those considered to be on the short list of players trying to grab one of the two remaining spots fared better. Cameron Tringale defeated John Peterson, 2 up, while__Bronson Burgoon__ knocked off Joe Juszczyk, 5 and 4, setting up a Tringale/Burgoon second round match. Byron Nelson Award winner__Mike Van Sickle__ rolled to a 6-and-4 victory over John Murphy, and Northeast Amateur champion__Dan Woltman__ defeated Talor Gooch, 3 and 2.
It wasn't just the U.S. Walker Cup players who had a collective bad day Wednesday. Three of the five players with Oklahoma State ties also found themselves on the losing end of the first-round ledger. In addition to Hoffmann and Fowler, Kevin Tway (with father Bob on the bag) lost to Brent Kanda, 1 up, making six bogeys on the day while playing in front of the day's largest gallery.
The lone Cowboys to advance to the second round were__Peter Uihlein__, and__Trent Whitekiller__, both of whom won their matches on the 19th hole.