Pinehurst Golf News Archive

Canadian Star Takes Early Lead At 113th North And South Amateur



SCORES: Kent State’s Corey Conners, the No. 2-ranked Canadian amateur, takes 1-shot lead after 6-under 65

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – N.C. State star Albin Choi didn’t return to the North and South Amateur this year after making a run to the match play quarterfinals a year ago.

He sent a fellow countryman instead.

Kent State’s Corey Conners, the No. 2-ranked Canadian amateur, shook off a steady afternoon rain to card seven birdies on his way to a 6-under 65 to lead the 113th North and South Amateur by a shot following the first round on Tuesday on Pinehurst Resort’s No. 4 course.

“Albin Choi, as a fellow Canadian, had some success and I had heard great things,” said Conners, who was fourth in the 2012 NCAA Championship, the highest finish ever for a Kent State golfer. “And obviously, with the history here, it fit in my schedule so I didn’t hesitate to come down.”

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The 113th North & South Amateur – The Contenders

The goal is obvious.

No player entered into the 113th 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 6, here’s a chance to get to know a few of the top players entered into the field, which includes five players who advanced to the North & South match play in 2012.


17, Smithtown, NY

College: Committed to Stanford

HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Signed with Stanford out of the Knox School in 2012…Four-time U.S. Kids champion (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006)…Broke Tiger Woods’ record when he became the youngest winner, at 14, of the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2010…Has spent time as the top-ranked junior boys golfer in both the Golfweek/Sagarin and Polo Golf Junior rankings…Currently ranked as No. 3 Junior player in the world…He also has runner-up finishes at the 2012 U.S. Junior Amateur, as well as the Azalea Invitational, Terra Cotta Invitational, Polo Golf Junior Classic and New Year’s…Shot 59 at 9 years old at Plantation Junior Golf Tour event…Played in first North & South in 2012, firing a 68 on Pinehurst No. 8 in the second round…Fell in playoff for last seed for match play.


17, Chapel Hill, NC

College: Committed to UNC Chapel Hill

HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Currently ranked as the No. 14 junior player in the world…Verbally committed to the University of North Carolina as a high school sophomore in February 2012…2-time North Carolina state champion, firing a 67 to finish at 9 under on Pinehurst No. 8 to win 4-A title again in 2013…36-hole total of 135 was the best 36-hole score ever in a 4-A tournament and the third-lowest total ever in an NCHSAA championship since World War II…Medalist at 2013 U.S. Open Local Qualifier after 67 in Greensboro…Lost in playoff for final seed in 2012 North & South…2-time runner-up in the Donald Ross Junior Championship at Pinehurst…Has finishes of 2nd, 3rd and 6th in last four amateur tournaments.


South Bend, IN

College: Senior, Tennessee

HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Finished second in 2013 NCAA Golf Championship…Shot rounds of 68-67-69 in NCAA Championship…Won twice during his senior season at Tennessee…Finished 3rd recently in Sunnehanna Amateur…Ranked 13th as an American amateur…Three Top-5 finishes this season at Tennessee…Six Top-25 finishes …Won Gifford Collegiate in San Martin, Calif., carding a 69-68-70–207 (-6). …Won back-to-back tournaments by carding a 70-65-76–211 (-5) at the SeaBest Invitational…Leads the Vols in most career rounds of par of better (45).


Listowel, Ontario, Canada

College: Junior, Kent State

HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Finished 4th in 2012 NCAA Championship…2012 NCAA All-American… Named to the Ben Hogan Award watch list for the 2012-13 season… Ranked No. 2 on Canada’s top amateur golfers by the World Golf Rankings… One of three amateurs selected to represent Canada at World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey (Oct. 4-7)…Named as one of GolfWorld’s 50 Men’s College Players to Watch list for 2012-13…Reached match play at 2012 U.S. Amateur…Finished 4th in 2012 Canadian Men’s Amateur… Enjoyed the best NCAA Championship individual performance ever by a Kent State player, tying for 4th in the nation with a 1-under 212 (68-75-69)… Was the MAC Golfer of the Year after winning the MAC Championship medalist.


21, Cary, NC

College: Junior, Georgia

HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Tied for first through 2012 North & South stroke play, carding 4-under total of 209…Took No. 2 match play seed after falling in medalist playoff to eventual champion Peter Williamson…Lost 4&2 to 15-seed Thomas Sutton in Round of 16…Placed 4th in U.S. Open Local Qualifier at Wallace, NC…Placed 23rd in U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying in Ball Ground, GA…Appeared in 2011 U.S. Amateur…Won the 2007 North & South Junior Championship.


22, Montgomery, AL

College: Junior, UAB

HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Qualified for match play at 2012 North & South, finishing three rounds of stroke play at 1-over 214…Upset second-seeded Michael Cromie 4 & 2 on Pinehurst No. 2 in Round of 16…Fell 4 & 3 to 2011 North& South runner-up David Erdy in quarterfinals…Won U.S. Open Local Qualifying at Calera, AL…Finished 23rd at U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying at Ball Ground, GA…Finished 8th at 2013 Conference USA Championship…Coming into North & South off 10th-place finish at Greystone Invitational, which included a third-round 67…Recently finished 2nd at Old Waverly Collegiate Championship.


Lakeland, FL

College: Senior, Florida Southern

HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Reached Round of 16 match play at 2012 North & South…Finished three rounds of stroke play at Pinehurst No. 8 in even par 213…As No. 11 seed in match play, faced eventual 2012 North & South runner-up Thomas Bradshaw, falling 6 & 5 on Pinehurst No. 2…Finished 6th in NCAA Division-II National Championship…Placed 8th in U.S. Open Qualifier at Lake Wales, FL…Division-II Honorable Mention All-American…Had six top-10 finishes this season, winning once.


22, West Des Moines, IA

College: Senior, Kansas State

HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Played his way into 2012 North & South match play after finishing 1-over through three rounds of stroke play…Survived a 5-for-12 playoff to earn No. 12 seed for match play…Defeated 5th-seeded Paul Jacobsen 4&3 to advance to the quarterfinals, where he fell to 4th-seeded Matt Ewald 2&1 in quarterfinals’ closest match on Pinehurst No. 2.


19, Clarksville, GA

College: Georgia

HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: One of five players who appeared in 2012 North & South match play to return in 2013…Shot 1-over 214 in stroke play on Pinehurst No. 8, taking 14th seed after emerging from a playoff…Fell  1 down to N.C. State star and third-seeded Albin Choi in one of the Round of 16’s closest matches…Appeared in 2013 NCAA Championship…Placed 4th in NCAA Regional tournament…Record 5th-place finish at New Year’s Invitational…Finished 8th in U.S. Open Local Qualifying at Kennesaw, GA.


Southern Pines, NC

College: Senior, UNC Chapel Hill

HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Finished 9th in 2013 ACC Championship…Has enjoyed a solid 2013 amateur season, recording four top-10 finishes…Tied for 10th place at 2012 North Carolina Amateur … tied for 16th at 2012 N.C. Open and tied for 22nd at 2012 North and South Amateur … played in 2012 U.S. Amateur … Finished one shot out of a playoff for 2012 North and South match play…tied for fourth place at 2012 New Year’s Invitational in St. Petersburg, Fla. … advanced to third round of match play at 2011 North and South Amateur…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.


23, Dallas, TX

College: Senior, Texas A&M

HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Finished eighth or better three times this season…Finished 2nd in U.S. Open Local Qualifier in Hot Springs, AK…Qualified for NCAA Championship…Appeared in 2012 U.S. Amateur.

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[VIDEO] Michael Campbell relives the 2005 U.S. Open – “It changed my world.”

Michael Campbell’s pitch to the 18th green on Sunday, June 19, 2005, was 77 yards from the pin – the exact same yardage Payne Stewart had for his third into the finishing hole in 1999.

“The bells are ringing,” NBC on-course analyst Dottie Pepper said of the nearby Village Chapel chimes. “It’s pretty eerie out here.”

“Yup, same spot Payne laid it up to,” Johnny Miller added. “Payne left it 15 feet under the hole, and made that putt.”

Campbell knocked his to 3 feet.

Two putts later – we failed to mention Campbell left his pitch above the hole – one of the more unlikely U.S. Open champions put the finishing touches on a remarkable performance. Michael Campbell, the 2005 U.S. Open Champion, held off a furious charge by pre-fire hydrant Tiger Woods at Pinehurst No. 2, making birdies at 10, 13 and finally, on 17, to clinch the national championship. He finished in even par 280, two strokes better than who Campbell calls the best player “we’ve ever seen.”

“The heart of the week was holding off Tiger,” Campbell told us of winning the Open. “I had the best player in the world chasing me down.”

… Continue Reading

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[Video] Rickie Fowler recalls ’08 Amateur, looks ahead to 2014 U.S. Open

Rickie Fowler, PGA Tour star and 2010 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, took a break while working on his game at the U.S. Open at Merion to not only preview the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, but to recall his experience at the 2008 U.S. Amateur on Pinehurst No. 2.

Here, Fowler discusses what he remembers from that week – he reached match play – and what he thinks of the Open returning to Pinehurst.

“I’m definitely looking forward to getting there to Pinehurst next year,” he said.

(As an aside, we must say we were pleased to interview half of the Golf Boys during the U.S. Open at Merion. We promise we’ll shoot for Hunter and Ben as best we can to complete the foursome.)

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[Video] Annika Sorenstam: “Pinehurst is a Mecca of Golf”

Annika Sorenstam stopped by Merion on Friday to sign autographs at the Lexus spectator tent and was happy to spend a little time chatting about Pinehurst and the unprecedented back-to-back U.S. Opens in 2014.

Sorenstam, enshrined in the LPGA Hall of Fame in 2003, finished her incredible career with 73 tournament wins – third all-time – with 10 major championships, including three U.S. Open victories.

Sorenstam has a soft spot in her heart for Pinehurst, commenting, “Pinehurst is a Mecca for golf.” As for the back-to-back Opens, Mrs. 59 is completely on board with the USGA’s decision.

“My spontaneous reaction was, ‘Wow, that’s fantastic.’”

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