BY ALEX PODLOGAR
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Andrew Dorn admits to rushing the tap-in.
It was the 14th hole of the 114th North & South Amateur at Pinehurst No. 8, and on the cartpath near the green was a golf cart made into a makeshift leaderboard. Covering the windshield was a white posterboard lined with the top players in the championship. It was the one opportunity players had late in their rounds to check their standing as they chased one of the coveted 16 spots that would get them into match play.
Dorn, the 2013 North & South Champion, was at 2 over for the tournament. He knew he was close to the cut line. He needed to see the board.
“I had to take a peek,” Dorn said. “It’s handwritten, so it’s really hard to see from the green. I hurried and made the tap-in, then ran over to the scoreboard to get a good look. I needed to know if I needed to press it or whether I could relax.”
He needed to press.
After a quick start Wednesday – Dorn made birdie on two of his first three holes – he had stumbled back to 2 over after a couple of bad breaks led to bogeys on 9 and 11.
The cut line was 2 over.
But after that quick glance of the leaderboard, Dorn, who had not made a birdie on his back 9 in either of the first two rounds, made 15-footers for birdie on the 15th and 16th holes to sew up his spot as the No. 6 seed entering match play on Friday.
“I’ve always had thoughts of repeating, but you have to get through and make the first cut, then you have to make the top 16 and the second cut,” said Dorn, who is trying to become the first back-to-back winner of the North & South since Paul Simson in 1995-96. “After 16, I felt a wave of relaxation come over me.”
Southern Cal star Rico Hoey, who shared the lead entering the final round of stroke play, finished with a solid 1-under 70 on the 7,044-yard layout to earn medalist honors and the first of what he hopes will be two Putter Boy trophies.
“I played pretty well,” said Hoey, the Pac 12 Freshman of the Year. “It was like everything else this week: stay patient. I played with a great group of guys who were just cool and really chill. We all had a good day. It really didn’t feel that intense out there. We just played.”
The tournament now shifts to match play to determine the champion. Round of 16 matches will be played Friday morning while quarterfinal matches will be decided in the afternoon. The semifinals will be played Saturday morning and the championship match will take place around 1 p.m. The championship will continue to be played at No. 8.
Indiana teammates Will Seger and David Mills both made match play. Seger, who led after a first-round 65, finished as the No. 2 seed after a 1-under 70 left him at 2-under 211, two shots back of Hoey.
But now, everything changes.
“Just getting to the Top 16 was my goal,” said Seger. “Whether I’m the 2-seed, or the 16-seed or the No. 1 seed, it doesn’t really matter at this point. It’s a totally new ballgame. I’m looking forward to – hopefully – the next few days.”
Dorn, who in 2013 played two matches that went to 20 holes before reaching the semifinals, is looking forward to match play.
“I really enjoy match play,” he said. “It’s just head-to-head, and I’m a big-time competitor. You can just play off the guy a lot of the time. It’s just you against the other guy.”
The Men’s North & South Amateur Championship is the longest consecutive-running amateur golf championship in the United States. Over the past century, the best in the golf world have vied for its coveted Putter Boy trophy. The winners now serve as legends in the game –Francis Ouimet, Billy Joe Patton, Jack Nicklaus, Curtis Strange, Davis Love III and Corey Pavin, among others – and continues to draw the best in amateur golf circles.
114TH NORTH & SOUTH AMATEUR
ROUND OF 16
No. 1 Rico Hoey vs. No. 16 Blair Hamilton 7:30 a.m.
No. 2 Will Seger vs. No. 15 Nick Pandelena 8:02 a.m.
No. 3 Chris Hemmerich vs. No. 14 David Mills 8:18 a.m.
No. 4 Will Cromie vs. No. 13 Jarrod Freeman 7:46 a.m.
No. 5 J.D. Dornes vs. No. 12 Carr Vernon 7:54 a.m.
No. 6 Andrew Dorn vs. No. 11 Corey Conners 8:26 a.m.
No. 7 Chris Petefish vs. No. 10 Harley Abrams 8:10 a.m.
No. 8 Austin Connelly vs. No. 9 Sam Bernstein 7:38 a.m.