Fifteen amateurs gathered on an idyllic June evening at the iconic Cypress Point Club, host site of the 1985 Walker Cup Match – and host again in 2025 – on Monday. The USGA entertained this group of amateurs who qualified for the 119th U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links for a dinner that also included 1979 U.S. Amateur champion Mark O’Meara.
An amateur has not won the U.S. Open since Johnny Goodman in 1933, so the most realistic prize on these men’s radars is low amateur, an honor 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale shared a year ago with Luis Gagne, who is making his professional debut this week. Parziale was the first to receive the full U.S. Open exemption granted for the reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. The same exemption is given to the reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion.
With the 47th Walker Cup Match slated for Sept. 7-8 at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) in England, the 11 American amateurs are also hoping to buoy their chances to make the most prized team in amateur golf.
New criteria put in place by the USGA ensures the top three Americans in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™ as of August are automatic selections, as is the U.S. Amateur champion and McCormack Medal winner (if American).
Four players in this year’s U.S. Open field – Parziale, 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad, 2018 U.S. Mid-Am champ Kevin O’Connell and Brandon Wu, who recently helped Stanford to the NCAA title, were invited to an informal practice session last December.
The other seven – reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion Michael Thorbjornsen, along with collegiate players Austin Eckroat (Oklahoma State), Cameron Young (Wake Forest), 2018 U.S. Amateur runner-up Devon Bling (UCLA), Noah Norton (Georgia Tech), Chandler Eaton (Duke) and Spencer Tibbits (Oregon State) – are hoping a good week at Pebble can plant another seed with the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee.