The University of North Carolina graduate earned his place in the field by winning the 2018 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Charlotte (N.C.) Country Club, defeating Brett Boner in the 36-hole final, 4 and 3. O'Connell also won the 2018 Monroe Invitational outside of Rochester, N.Y. Turned pro after his college career, but regained his amateur status in 2015. At North Carolina, he was the 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference's Freshman of the Year, and a third-team Ping All-American.
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