A day earlier, Cooper Musselman lost his tee shot to the right on the 512-yard, par-4 16th hole of Pinehurst No. 2. But he drew a good lie in the native area, got a club on the ball, and eventually made a birdie, helping him lead the 118th North & South Amateur after the first round.
Less than 24 hours later, Musselman again lost his drive to the right on 16.
This time, his ball was clumped into a wire grass bush. He made a double bogey, then bogeyed 17, and what was a three-shot lead on the field in the second round had disappeared into a tie with two players whose rounds had finished two hours and one hour before.
But Musselman had one last chance, a 35-foot look at birdie on the 18th hole. And while he struck a good putt, he noticed early that it started to leak a little low of the cup.
“I had a good line on it and I just had to get the right speed,” said Musselman, who finished his senior season at Kentucky. “I thought it was going to miss low, but the bottom half of the cup snatched it.”
To the thrill of those watching from the veranda, Musselman buried the putt and took medalist honors with it, earning the No. 1 seed when the championship shifts to match play with the Round of 32 on Wednesday.
“This is pretty exciting,” he said. “I was just hoping to make it to match play, and I did that. Now it becomes an entirely different event.”
ROUND OF THE DAY
Musselman nearly found himself in a playoff with two strong ACC players, N.C. State’s Ben Shipp and Duke’s Alex Smalley.
Shipp started the day at 4 over and in a tie for 37th. But he opened with birdies on the first and third holes, and after a bogey on the 5th, made a 40-footer for birdie on the 8th to make the turn at 2 over for the championship. He was lights out from there, making birdies on 11, 13 and 16 to finish with the low round of the tournament, a 5-under 65.
When asked to try to put into words what it feels like to shoot a 65 on No. 2, Shipp just broke into a wide smile.
“It feels pretty good,” he said. “Yeah, it feels pretty good to shoot a 65 on this golf course. You can hit it really well out here and still shoot over par.”
While Shipp moved from a share of 37th to the No. 2 seed in match play, Smalley will take the No. 3 seed after rounds of 71 and 68. Smalley, the medalist at the 2016 U.S. Amateur, won the Sunnehanna Amateur last week, never trailing in the four rounds of stroke play.
Josh Martin is no stranger to winning in his hometown of Pinehurst. He won three Donald Ross Junior Championships, and was the top player on two state championship teams at nearby Pinecrest High School.
Now, though, the North Carolina senior may have his best chance at winning the North & South Amateur.
Martin had three birdies on the front nine to grab a piece of the lead at one point before a double bogey at 11 dropped two shots. Martin recovered well from there, closing with seven straight pars for a second straight even-par 70 to pick up the No. 4 seed for match play.
Former Pinecrest teammate Eric Bae, a sophomore at Wake Forest, also reached match play after his second straight 72. Bae has the 22 seed.
- Frankie Capan and Ben Wong, who teamed together to win the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Pinehurst, both successfully made it through to match play without much trepidation. Wong, a sophomore at SMU, shot a 2-under 73 to finish with the 7 seed at 1-over 141. Capan, a sophomore at Alabama, had a round of even-par 70 and takes the No. 12 seed after a two-day total of 3-over 143.
- Zachary Bauchou, the 2013 North & South Runner-Up and 2018 NCAA Champion with Oklahoma State, has the No. 9 seed after a second-round 72.
- U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Matt Parziale shot a 4-over 74 to miss the cut for the playoff by one shot.
- Defending champion William Nottingham did not make the cut, shooting a second straight 75 to finish in a tie for 60th.
Keep an eye on Matthew Sharpstene, who made the field after a 5-under 67 on Pinehurst No. 8 in the North & South Amateur Qualifier on Saturday. The West Virginia sophomore had rounds of 69 and 71 on No. 2 to finish in a tie for 4th in medal play and earn the No. 6 seed entering Wednesday’s Round of 32.
For a long time on Tuesday afternoon, it appeared as though there could be a monumental playoff of up to 12 players for the one final spot in the field. Alas, late in the day, the cut shifted a shot lower, but still nine players battled in a playoff for the last six spots into the match play field. They are: Jose Montano, Joey Savoie, Patrick Cover, Matt Hutchins, Ben Schlottman and Brian Ohr.
The Men’s North & South Amateur Championship is the longest consecutively-running amateur golf championship in the United States. Over the past century, the best amateurs in the world have vied for its coveted Putter Boy trophy. The winners now serve as legends in the game – among them Walter Travis, Francis Ouimet, Jack Nicklaus, Curtis Strange and Davis Love III – and the championship continues to draw the best in amateur golf.
The field has been cut to 32 and now moves to match play. The Round of 32 and Round of 16 will be played on Wednesday while the Quarterfinals and Semifinals will be played on Thursday.
The Championship’s finals will be played at 7 a.m. on Friday. Admittance to all rounds is free to the public, which is encouraged to come watch.
118TH NORTH & SOUTH AMATEUR
Pinehurst No. 2
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
ROUND OF 32
No. 1 Cooper Musselman vs.No. 32 Brian Ohr, 7 a.m.
No. 16 Ryan Gerard vs. No. 17 Bryce Hendrix, 7:08 a.m.
No. 8 Zheng Kai Bai vs. No. 25 Derek Busby, 7:16 a.m.
No. 9 Zachard Bauchou vs. No. 24 Evan Katz, 7:24 a.m.
No. 4 Josh Martin vs. No. 29 Patrick Cover, 7:32 a.m.
No. 13 Mitchell Meissner vs. No. 20 Riley Casey, 7:40 a.m.
No. 5 Spencer Soosman vs. No. 28 Joey Savoie, 7:48 a.m.
No. 12 Frankie Capan vs. No. 21 Joshua Gibson, 7:56 a.m.
No. 2 Ben Shipp vs. No. 31 Ben Schlottman, 8:04 a.m.
No. 15 Arthur Griffin vs. 18 Gray Townsend, 8:12 a.m.
No. 7 Ben Wong vs. No. 26 Kyle Suppa, 8:20 a.m.
No. 10 Ray Kraivixien vs. No. 23 Blake Wagoner, 8:28 a.m.
No. 3 Alex Smalley vs. No. 30 Matt Hutchins, 8:36 a.m.
No. 14 Jake Brown vs. No. 19 Sam Stevens, 8:44 a.m.
No. 6 Matthew Sharpstene vs. No. 27 Jose Montano, 8:52 a.m.
No. 11 Chris Yeom vs. No. 22 Eric Bae, 9 a.m.
ROUND OF 16
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Friday, June 29, 2018
TBD, 7 a.m.