“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”