CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. (AP) – Bobby Wyatt finished at the top in qualifying at the U.S. Amateur championship at Cherry Hills, and his hope is he's just getting started.
Wyatt, a junior at the University of Alabama, shot a 2-under 68 Tuesday at CommonGround golf course for a two-day qualifying score of 9-under 132 to snag the top seed heading into match play. He also tied the 36-hole tournament record for stroke play, accomplished previously in 2011 by Gregor Main and in 1994 by Hank Kim.
“It's very humbling to have part of that record,'' said Wyatt, who finished two strokes in front of second-place qualifiers Cheng-Tsung Pan of Taiwan and Jeff Osberg of West Chester, Pa. “They change courses every year and there have been a lot of courses that par is higher than 70 (CommonGround) and 71 (Cherry Hills), but it's an honor. There have been a lot of great names to play in this championship and to do that certainly means a lot, but I have a lot of work to do this week.''
Wyatt will face the lowest seed once the field of 64 golfers for the first round of match play is finalized early Wednesday by a playoff at the Cherry Hills golf course among 17 players competing for the last 14 spots. The championship round will be held Sunday.
“My confidence is very high right now, playing well and on my game,'' Wyatt said. “I'm looking forward to the rest of the week.''
Pan, who plays at the University of Washington, also put himself in a good spot by shooting a 65. He finished two days of stroke play qualifying over the CommonGround and Cherry Hill courses at 7-under 134. Osberg matched Pan at 7 under, including a 65 at CommonGround on Tuesday.
“It went very well out there,'' Osberg said. “I just putted fantastically both days, probably the best I've putted in my life.''
The preliminary rounds whittled the field from an original contingent of 312 golfers, representing 43 states and 21 countries.
Pan began the day tied for 19th after a 69 at Cherry Hills on the first day of qualifying. He moved up 17 spots with his standout performance at the companion course at CommonGround.
“I'm hitting the ball great, driving well,'' Pan said. “Hitting irons well, and my long game is always good. I executed every shot well.''
Pan said he drew a lot of encouragement from his qualifying play.
“I feel good about these two rounds,'' Pan said. “Gives me confidence going into match play. My goal is to win the tournament and higher seeds always have an advantage.''
Meanwhile, Gary Nicklaus, the 43-year-old son of Jack Nicklaus and one of the oldest competitors in the amateur, shot a 74 at Cherry Hills for a two-day score of 4-over 145, leaving him out of match play in a tie for 82nd place.
“I played OK,'' Nicklaus said. “I didn't play great. I putted pretty lousy. I was very disappointed being 4 over in my first seven holes (on Monday). From that point, I was kind of behind the eight ball the rest of the time. And any time you're playing in a USGA event, it's not geared for making runs of birdies to get back into it. It's meant for good solid play from the beginning on through. But it was fun and I enjoyed it.''
Nicklaus, a former PGA tour pro who was reinstated as an amateur in 2007, had qualified for the Cherry Hills event after missing the 1990 event at the same course because of a heart ailment. He was an up-and-coming 20-year-old when he came down with pericarditis on the eve of the 1990 amateur, forcing him to undergo a week of treatment in the hospital instead of competing on the golf course.