No player entered into the 115th 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”)
And now, the championship returns to Pinehurst No. 2, where a 7,000-yard, par-70 setup with U.S. Open hole locations awaits players, both for three rounds of medal play and the decisive match play.
Before one of them etches his name in history on July 3, here’s a chance to get to know a few of the top players entered into the field. (Note: By no means do we think the champion will only come from this list.)
College: Rising Freshman at Ohio State
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Call it the Karma of Pinehurst. Good things happen to Will Grimmer at Pinehurst. Maybe he’s not the top contender in the field, but he may have the most recognition. Grimmer is Pinehurst’s Kid 59, having shot golf’s magic number as a 16-year-old in the 2013 North & South Junior. That came on Pinehurst No. 1, which, of course, played about 1,000 yards shorter than No. 2 will, but Grimmer is no stranger to No. 2 either: He qualified and played in the 2014 U.S. Open just over a year ago. Grimmer and his family have been visiting Pinehurst for several years, and even if he wasn’t coming into this week off two strong performances in his last two events, just hitting the grounds usually means good times, good feelings – and, most importantly – good golf for the rising freshman at Ohio State.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
College: Rising Sophomore at North Carolina
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: A year ago, Michael Cromie became the first player in North & South history to win both the Junior and the Men’s Amateur. Cromie’s 2014 victory, though, came after several years of trying, resulting in an emotional moment in the Pinehurst clubhouse as Cromie and his family stood looking at the names he would soon join on the Perpetual Wall. It’s much the same for Griffin, one of the most decorated junior and prep golfers in North Carolina history. Even at his tender age, Griffin is a veteran of the North & South, and reached match play two years ago. He’s since tallied a tremendous freshman season at UNC, winning twice, and comes into the North & South poised to add Pinehurst to his already glowing resume.
College: Rising freshman at Oklahoma State
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: He’s been one of the most sought-after college recruits for the last several years, so it was no surprise when he inked his commitment to NCAA powerhouse Oklahoma State. But Bauchou is no stranger to Pinehurst, either. He was the 2013 North & South runner-up to champion Andrew Dorn, making a late-round charge before falling 1-down at 18 of No. 2. One of the elite junior golfers in the world, Bauchou won the Nick Faldo Grand Series Final in October 2014.
College: Rising Freshman at North Carolina
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Josh Martin already knows what it feels like to have his name emblazoned in bronze on Pinehurst’s clubhouse walls. One of the top junior golfers in the country, Martin has won the Donald Ross Junior Championship at Pinehurst three of the last four years, including again in December 2014. Martin is seeking to become the first Moore Country native to win the North & South Amateur since Jack Fields in 2011, and only the second since Kelly Mitchum in 1993.
Sea Island, Ga.
College: Rising Junior at Alabama
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Love returns to the North & South after missing match play a year ago, but if he needs experience on No. 2, all he needs to do is call his dad, World Golf Hall-of-Famer Davis Love III, who won the North & South in 1984. Dru, though, is a player in his own right, coming off a successful sophomore season at NCAA powerhouse Alabama, where he won Puerto Rico Classic on the same day his father was named as Ryder Cup captain. Dru finished the season with five top-20 finishes, including four in the last seven events of the year.
College: Rising Junior at North Carolina
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Another strong UNC player who transferred to the Tar Heels after two successful seasons at UNC-Greensboro, Jenkins just last week won the 55th North Carolina Amateur. In three semesters at UNCG, Jenkins played in all 17 tournaments for the Spartans and had a scoring average of 72.39, including two individual wins and eight top-10 finishes. Jenkins was selected the 2014 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year and was named to the 2014 All-SoCon team. Jenkins won the 2013 Wolfpack Intercollegiate by firing a 13-under-par 203 total to break the 54-hole tournament record at UNCG. He also won the 2014 AutoTrader.com Collegiate Classic.
High Point, N.C.
College: Rising Senior at Wake Forest
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: Womble is another North & South veteran who is coming off a solid season at Wake Forest, where he won his first title at the Yale Spring Invitational. Womble finished 11th at the ACC Tournament, and recorded four top-5 finishes in 10 starts, completing the season with a 71.61 stroke average.
West End, N.C.
HE’S A CONTENDER BECAUSE: It’s not just college kids and top-ranked juniors at the North & South. Sherrill Britt, 50, brings a ton of local knowledge to the North & South, but even more game. Britt recently teamed with Greg Earnhardt to finish as runners-up in the USGA’s inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, which will be played at Pinehurst in 2017. Britt also won the 35th Carolinas Mid-Am in April.
OTHER TOP CONTENDERS INCLUDE: HARLEY ABRAMS (Lehigh rising senior, 2014 North & South Semifinalist); MAX GREYSERMAN (Duke rising junior, 2013 North & South Semifinalist), ADAM WOOD (Duke rising Sophomore, 2013 North & South Round of 16, No. 2 seed); WILLIAM REGISTER (North Carolina rising sophomore; one collegiate win this season); DAVID KOCHER (2014 North & South Junior Champion)