No player entered into the 114th North and South Amateur Championship is coming to Pinehurst without dreams of adding his name to the distinguished list of champions. The longest consecutive running amateur championship in the United States, the North and South’s prestige has long been well documented, its past champions among the most recognizable and celebrated names in the history of golf.
Ward. Stranahan. Patton. Nicklaus. Strange. Sutton. Pavin. Love. (Related: “The North & South Locker Room: Golf’s Greatest are Here”)
Before one of them etches his name in history on July 5, here’s a chance to get to know a few of the top players entered into the field. (Note: By no means do we think the champion will only come from this list. As Andrew Dorn proved last year, the field is always deep.)
West Chester, Ohio
College: Coastal Carolina, Senior
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Dorn returns as the North & South defending champion, so it wouldn’t be right not to begin with him. Also, Dorn is playing some of the best golf of his career, having just come off an appearance in the U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2. “This is amazing,” Dorn said while on the practice range during Monday’s Open practice round. “I didn’t expect to back here until July, not June.” …Shot a course-record 66 at Cincinnati’s Maketewa Country Club to win a local qualifier for the 2014 U.S. Open … Advanced to play in a 36-hole sectional qualifier in Springfield, Ohio … Placed fourth (top three earned automatic berth to U.S. Open) with a score of 3-under 137 (70-67) … Was the #1 alternate from the site and ranked the #3 overall alternate … Joined the U.S. Open field after Thomas Bjorn was the third player to withdraw. Won the 113th North & South Amateur, the Ohio Amateur (66-69-73=208) and qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship … At the North & South Amateur, was the 16th seed after stroke play to qualify for match play … Defeated top seed Adam Schenk in 20 holes, ninth seed Mikey Moyers 5 and 4, 13th seed Max Greyserman 1 up and 15th seed Zachary Bahchou 1 up … Won the Ohio Amateur by two strokes, shooting 66-69-73=208.
College: Kent State, Senior
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Ranked 7th among amateur players in the world by GolfWeek…Semifinalist in 2013 U.S. Amateur…Standout at Kent State, becoming the first KSU player to finish Top 5 in NCAA Championships (T4, 2012)… Honored with the 2014 Merle Wagoner Award as Kent State’s outstanding male athlete…Finished as No. 3 seed during medal play at 2013 North & South…Lost in North & South Round of 16 match play…3-Time First-Team All-MAC selection…In the PGA Tour field playing as an amateur in the RBC Canadian Open during the summer of 2013…One of three amateurs selected to represent Canada at World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey, helping his native country to a sixth-place finish.
Richmond Hill, Ontario
College: Kent State, Senior
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Highest-ranking amateur in 2014 North & South field…Ranked 3rd in world by Golfweek…Named Co-Mid-American Conference Golfer of the year with Kent State teammate Corey Conners…3-Time First-Team All-MAC selection…Qualified as Individual for 2014 NCAA Championships at Prairie Dunes in Kansas…One of only two players in Kent State history to play in the NCAA Championships in all four college seasons…Absolute bomber of the golf ball – Won the Canadian Junior Long Drive Championship with a prodigious drive of 349 yards…Taught himself to play.
Southern Pines, NC
College: North Carolina Graduate
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Perhaps no player in the field has as much North & South Am experience…Reached match player quarterfinals in 2013…Finished one shot out of a playoff to earn a match play spot in 2012…Reached third round of match play in 2011 North & South…Finished 3rd at 2014 New Years Invitational in t. Petersburg, Fla…Recently played 13th in North Carolina Amateur, firing two rounds in the 60s… Comes from a legendary golfing family – son of former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Pat McGowan and grandson of legend Peggy Kirk Bell, the 1949 North and South Women’s Amateur Champion.
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: 16 years old…At 15, became one of the youngest players in Australian Open history to make the Open cut and then finished the 2013 tournament in 24th position…Also became the youngest player to win the 2014 Riversdale Cup, winning his first top amateur title by one stroke with rounds of 72-72-66-70 (8 under)…On the winning team in the 2013 Ten Nations Cup held in South Africa…Has played in 4 professional events in the last two years…Comes from a distinguished athletic family: His father, Ray, is a three-time Australian Open semifinalist and was the runner-up at Wimbledon in 1978 in mixed doubles with Hall of Famer Billie Jean King, while his mother, AnnaMaria Ruffels (nee Fernandez), won a national college singles championship for the University of Southern California and five WTA titles as a pro.
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
College: Southern Cal, Freshman
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Rico Hoey put together one of the top seasons in Trojan golf history as a 2014 freshman, leading USC in stroke average (71.36), top 10 finishes (eight), rounds in the 60s (16), birdies (165) and eagles (eight) en route to 2014 GCAA All-American third team, All-West Region and All-Pac-12 first team honors while being tabbed the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year… A 2014 Palmer Cup pick, Hoey’s 16 rounds in the 60s and his 26 rounds of par or better were the most since Jamie Lovemark’s 20 and 27, respectively, during his 2007 freshman season. Hoey’s eight top 10s were actually all top 7 or better, including six in the top 5…In his final action before enrolling at USC, Hoey advanced to the match-play portion of the 2013 U.S. Amateur by tying for 20th in stroke play at 141 (73-68). He lost in the first round of match play…He was ranked the No. 14 overall recruit in the class of 2012.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
College: Committed to North Carolina
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Like McGowan, Griffin has loads of North & South Am experience, and is especially eager for the title…Won North Carolina State 4-A championship as a freshman and junior…Won second state title with 9-under 135 on Pinehurst No. 8, site of the 2014 North & South…Ranked as 7th best junior in class of 2014…Made a verbal commitment to UNC as a high school sophomore.
Sea Island, Ga.
College: Alabama, Freshman
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Better known as Dru Love…Son of 20-time PGA Tour winner Davis Love III, who won the 1984 North & South Am…Redshirted first year at Alabama…Five-time state champion at Frederica Academy in St. Simons Island, Ga. … captured the title for the first time as an 8th-grader in 2008 and capped off his prep career with his final championship as a senior in 2012 … a three-time team MVP (2009, 2011 and 2012) … finished his career with the second-lowest stroke average in school history … also played basketball for Frederica Academy, leading his squad to one state championship.
College: Georgia, Senior
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Led Top 5 –ranked Georgia as a senior, winning the Linger Longer Invitational, beating No. 1 Alabama…Came in second in the medal portion and reached the Round of 16 in match play in the 2012 North and South Amateur…Came in 16th in the 2011 Western Amateur…Qualified for the 2011 U.S. Amateur…Won the 2007 North & South Junior Championship at Pinehurst.
Short Hills, N.J.
College: Duke, Freshman
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Semifinalist at the 2013 North & South Am, falling 5&4 to eventual champion Andrew Dorn…One of Duke’s top players as a freshman…Rated 14th nationally in Polo Rankings … won the 2013 N.J. Junior Championship … finalist at 2013 St. Andrews Boys Open.
Other Players to Watch: Adam Wood (commited to Duke, finished as No. 2 seed after medal play in 2013 N&S); Davis Womble; Garrett King (reached 2013 N&S quarters, beating Corey Conners in match play); Zach Martin; Kendrick Vinar (2012 North & South Junior champion).