In terms of collegiate golfing, having one golfer qualify for the United States Amateur Championship is somewhat of a rarity. Having two qualify in the same year is simply unheard of.
This past July, UC Irvine golfers John Chin and Tim Cha both qualified for the United States Amateur Championship, to be played on August 18 at Pinehurst Golf Course in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Chin will be a junior in the fall and was Irvine’s best golfer last year, winning 2008 Big West Player of the Year honors. He recently received a berth to the United States Amateur Championship after finishing second at the United States Amateur Public Links Championship on July 19 at Murphy Creek Golf Course. He fought through three rounds of match play at Murphy Creek, but finally lost to Jack Newman of Des Moines, Iowa in a 36-hole, match-play playoff on the last day of the tournament.
Both players came out shooting for the win and exchanged holes early in the match-play format, but Chin began to slip around the ninth hole and would not be able to recover. The five day tournament is a daunting task for even the most experienced golfers, let alone a collegiate golfer. This was actually Chin’s first United States Golf Association Championship and next up will be the Amateur Championship.
Cha will be joining Chin at the Amateur Championship in August after winning a qualifying tournament at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach on July 28th. Cha not only won the tournament, but also made it a point to display his amazing skills on the course. The qualifier was a one day, 36-hole tournament and Cha opened his round fairly conservatively. He pared his first eight holes, but finally took the lead after eagling his ninth hole and birdying his 10th. Cha was flawless through the first eighteen holes and did not have one bogey on his scorecard.
He ended his first round with a 68 and had the top spot on the leader board.
His next round was simply amazing. He started the round with four straight birdies and only ended up bogeying one hole through his second 18 on the day. After it was all said and done, Cha had scored a remarkable seven-under second round and 11-under on the day. He blew away the competition, winning by nine strokes after 36 holes.
With the kind of momentum these two golfers have produced over the last month, it is possible they will go deep in the United States Amateur Championships.They will attempt to outplay a field of 312 golfers at the world- renowned Pinehurst golf course. The tournament is historically an introduction of young talent into the professional world of golfing. It has, in years past, been won past by the likes of Phil Mickelson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
With the training and coaching of ten-year head coach Paul Smolinski, it’s likely that one of these Anteaters will make a name for themselves at this year’s tournament.
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