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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Momentum builds for Wildcats at U.S. Amateur

    Throughout the past week, North Carolina’s Pinehurst Golf Club has been home to the 2008 U.S. Amateur Championship, a tournament of 315 competitors from around the country, four of whom hold Wildcat ties.

    Among those were sophomores Beck Miller and Roberto Galletti – who finished 140th and 68th, respectivelyÿ- senior Tyler Neal (220th), and former Wildcat David McDaniel (20th), who played for Arizona during the 2004-05 season. McDaniel was the only player to qualify for the match play portion of the tournament, but was eliminated in the first round after losing 4 and 3 to South Carolina’s Paul Woodbury.

    The overall experience at the U.S. Amateur, which ran Aug. 18 through yesterday, may have been enough for the Wildcats to feel good about, despite the end results. Neal carded an 11-over-par 151 through two rounds while Miller finished with an 8-over-par 148. Galletti just missed the cut by four spots, finishing with a 5-over-par 145.

    “”The tournament has given us a lot of momentum,”” Neal said. “”It is a nice way to enter into the season so that we can focus on golf.””

    The tournament is a historic one, dating back to its birth in 1895, when it was designed as a means to find the nation’s top golfer by combining both stroke and match play. The first two days of the tournament are stroke play, a typical golf score measurement, where the lowest scores win. Out of the 315 golfers, the cutline is set for the top 64 lowest scores over the first two rounds.

    The next five days work in a bracket system with the final 64 players. The main difference between stroke and match play is that while stroke play is a competition between all players, match play is a one-on-one competition on Pinehurst’s No. 2 courseÿ- which covers 7,281 yards – between individuals where each hole is a separate head-to-head match – overall scores don’t matter. Once one of the individuals has racked up a lead larger than the number of holes left, the match is over and is scored as the lead and the remaining number of holes.

    While holding the tournament a week before school begins for the current Wildcats could have been a distraction, the players didn’t see it that way. Neal, who has played in three U.S. Amateurs and will be the oldest player on the team this upcoming season, said the tournament allows players to transition into the season.

    “”My expectations are the same as always,”” Neal said. “”They haven’t changed.””

    UA head coach Rick LaRose said the tournament could provide the team with a lot of momentum and agreed that there is less of a distraction than some people think.

    “”I don’t think there’s any distraction caused from this tournament,”” LaRose said. “”We expect big things this year and I think that this will get us started on the right track.””

    Overall, the players said it was a great opportunity to get more experience on a larger level while doing what they enjoy most.

    “”It was a lot of fun,”” Miller said. “”Pinehurst is an amazing place with a lot of history. I felt like I was back in Tucson. It was great being able to hang out with my team and play golf.””

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