Pinehurst News

116th North & South Amateur – The Contenders

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Sean Walsh returns as the North & South Amateur defending champion.

ROUND 1 RECAP

GROUPINGS

LIVE SCORING

Sean Walsh is the defending North & South Amateur champion. Andrew Buchanan is coming off a USGA championship. Surely one of them should be considered the tournament favorite for the championship, which begins Monday for 116th consecutive year.

Or the favorite could be any number of players with past North & South experience, especially with the championship returning to the demanding Pinehurst No. 2 for all rounds. Or it could be a player with a combination of North & South and USGA championship experience.

Or, it could be anyone at all in the deep field, much like Walsh himself, who despite a strong junior season at Gonzaga in 2015 came into the North & South under the radar before beating George Cunningham 3 & 1 to earn his first Putter Boy trophy.

Here’s our attempt to highlight some of the top contenders for the 116th North & South Amateur. And if you don’t see the name of the eventual champion here when you check back on Friday, it wouldn’t be anything new.

But, after seeing this list, it will certainly have been impressive.

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Sean Walsh

THE CONTENDERS

SEAN WALSH You have to start with Walsh. He was the sixth seed in 2015 entering match play, but was steady throughout the second half of the tournament, knocking out second-seeded Clark Engle in the semifinals and then taking down George Cunningham in the final. No one had played better the entire week than Cunningham until Walsh matched him shot for shot in the final, wearing Cunningham down. It’s Walsh’s third North & South, and he’ll try to become the first to win back-to-back championships since legend Paul Simson in 1995-96.

GEORGE CUNNINGHAM Cunningham is back, and after rounds of 70-69-73 for a 2-over 212 to earn medalist honors on No. 2 a year ago, he has to be considered a threat again this year. Cunningham, too, was already in Pinehurst a week before the first round.

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Andrew Buchanan, right, poses with the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball trophy with partner Ben Baxter. (Photo by Golf Digest)

ANDREW BUCHANAN  In 2017, Pinehurst will host the 3rd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Among those in the field will be the defending champions – Ben Baxter, and Buchanan, who is seeking to win at Pinehurst 11 months ahead of time. Buchanan has won at Winged Foot within the last month. He’ll be ready for No. 2.

CLARK ENGLE Prepare for a run of U.S. Amateur Four-Ball success stories who are in the North & South field. Engle shot 3-over 213 on No. 2 to finish a stroke out of medalist honors a year ago, and reached the semifinals. He also reached match play of the Four-Ball at Winged Foot with…

Will Grimmer 59

Will Grimmer became the first player in Pinehurst history to shoot 59 in a competitive round, hitting golf’s magic number on Pinehurst No. 1 in the 2013 North & South Junior. A year later, Grimmer played in the 2014 U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2.

WILL GRIMMER Coming off a strong freshman season at Ohio State (along with Engle), Grimmer returns to the place he first made his name in golf. Three years ago, Grimmer recorded the first 59 in competition in Pinehurst history at the North & South Junior, and after reaching match play a year ago, Grimmer returns to try to win his first Putter Boy. Grimmer, who also played in the 2014 U.S. Open on No. 2, has an affinity for Pinehurst like few others. He’s gunning for this championship.

COLE HAMMER The name is familiar, right? At 15, Hammer qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in 2015. That’s good enough to be considered a contender in the North & South.

David.Kocher

David Kocher won the 2014 North & South Junior.

DAVID KOCHER Keep an eye on Kocher, who won the North & South Junior in 2014 before starring at Maryland in his freshman season. Kocher also advanced to match play at the Four-Ball at Winged Foot, and with a Putter Boy already, Kocher will try to become the second player in Pinehurst history to win both the North & South Junior and the North & South Amateur. Michael Cromie became the first with his North & South Am win in 2014.

DOC REDMAN A native of Raleigh, Redman is another young name to watch this week. He also has considerable hardware from Pinehurst already. A month before reaching match play in the Four-Ball, Redman won the N.C. 4-A State Championship at Pinehurst No. 8. Redman has the game win the North & South.

ANDREW NOVAK Novak won a 6-for-1 playoff to make match play a year ago. He also went viral this year after making a 100-foot putt in the NCAA Tournament. And he’s a great quote. Good enough for us.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

At the risk of appearing as though we are just listing the rest of the field, there is so much past experience and strong play throughout the field, the list of players capable of emerging on Friday as the champion is considerable. A few names with quick notes:

Josh Martin He won three Donald Ross Junior Championships. Martin is a favorite anytime he tees it up at Pinehurst.

Easton Paxton He won the 2015 North & South Junior, and living in Wyoming, he only plays golf six months a year. But he can play.

A.J. Beechler From Pinehurst, plays at Pinehurst often. Be wary.

Eric Bae See above. He also drained a 12-foot putt on 18 on Pinehurst No. 8 to lift hometown school Pinecrest to a state championship – by a single shot. He’s got a grinder’s guts.

Harley Abrams, Max Greyserman and Alex Smalley All have considerable North & South experience.

Will the 116th North & South Amateur Champion come from this list?

Pinehurst No. 2, in a few days, will let us know.

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Michelle Wie and the Tale of the Tape

Two years ago today, when Michelle Wie came to the U.S. Women’s Open trophy presentation, she was still wearing the Kinesio tape on her legs. But when she stood with the trophy, it was gone.

What happened to it? We have the answer – and reveal her accomplice – here.

THE TAPE.

If there was one defining characteristic of Michelle Wie’s wardrobe during her triumph at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, it was the Kinesio Tape Wie was wearing to help with the constant leg issues she was dealing with that week and the weeks leading up to it.

Wie was often asked about the tape in media sessions, and it certainly was mentioned on social media throughout the championship.

Then, Wie won, and after signing her scorecard, was ushered to the trophy presentation on the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2. But in the photos there and after, the tape is gone.

So, did Wie take the tape off in the locker room? Maybe the scoring area?

Nope.

It happened at the trophy presentation, and we caught it with our camera. The trophy presentation was not aired live on NBC, but it’s safe here, and it’s here you’ll see what happened to the tape. (PLAY THE VIDEO ABOVE.)

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During the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, Michelle Wie wore Kinesio Tape to help with leg issues she was dealing with. (Photo by the USGA)

OPENING: Setting the stage, let’s identify the key members on the dais. At far left, in her red Team Canada apparel, is sensation Brooke Henderson, who was the low amateur at the championship. Henderson, who recently just won her first major championship, is priceless in this for her reactions to what’s about to happen.

Middle left is Stacy Lewis, who made a tremendous charge on Sunday to put serious pressure on Wie, ultimately finishing as the championship’s runner-up. Finally, there’s Wie and then-USGA President Thomas O’Toole Jr.

On the right side of the dais are more USGA officials as well as Pinehurst officials. More on them in a minute.

:02 SECONDS Wie crosses her left leg over her right, and that’s when Lewis notices the tape is still on. With 11 wins and two major championships, Lewis is accustomed to trophy presentations. She knows Wie won’t want these legacy photographs showing the tape, and so she points it out. … Continue Reading

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2005 U.S. Open Champion? Nice, but Michael Campbell may have just topped that at Oakmont

You thought Michael Campbell holding off Tiger Woods and winning the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst was impossible?

He may have just topped that. (OK, not really, but still…check it out.)

Campbell, who has retired from golf and is working as a broadcaster for Fox Sports Asia (he’s really good, by the way), recently made an eagle 2 from the fairway of the first hole at Oakmont Country Club.

Only you HAVE to see how he did it:

We were fortunate enough to catch up with Cambo at Merion in 2013, and he was as generous, genuine and kind as he’s always been. We’re proud to have Michael as one of Pinehurst’s greatest champions.

Relive Michael’s great charge and his win over Tiger:

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At Pinehurst, USGA Championships always feel just around the corner

WRAL’s Jared Fialko visited Pinehurst recently and found that preparations are already under way for the next wave of USGA Championships:

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While it rains at Oakmont, enjoy Jordan Spieth’s new commercial

Enjoy:

Meanwhile, amazing to consider:

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