US Amateur: Nervous finish awaits Sugrue as Rafferty and Purcell bow out
Conor Purcell hits a shot on the 18th hole during the second round of stroke play at the 2019 U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 4) in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

Conor Purcell hits a shot on the 18th hole during the second round of stroke play at the 2019 U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 4) in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

James Sugrue faces a nervous last two holes in his bid to make the matchplay stages of the weather-delayed US Amateur

The Amateur champion sits on the cut mark on four-over par with the 17th and 18th of his second qualifying round to complete today at Pinehurst No 2. Scores

After opening with a level par 70 at No 4, Sugrue followed bogeys at the sixth, seventh and 10th with a birdie at the 14th but a double bogey five at the 15th left him joint 46th and just inside the top 64.

Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty and Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell failed to qualify after a disappointing week in the sandhills of North Carolina.

Rafferty followed an opening 80 on the famed No 2 Course with a six-over 76 on the No 4 Course to finish well outside the top 64 on 16-over par.

Purcell also finished on 16-over after rounds of 76 and 80.

The Irish trio are hoping to make the 10-man Great Britain and Ireland Walker team to face the US at Royal Liverpool next month.

Sugrue is certain to be named in the team next week following his win at Portmarnock while Rafferty and Purcell, and Kilkenny's Mark Power, are also on the shortlist.

Of the 10 Walker Cup panellists in action at Pinehurst, Tom Sloman was a shot behind clubhouse leader Brandon Wu on three-under after a 68 at No 4 with Alex Fitzpatrick tied 18th after a 74 at No 2 and Sandy Scott 28th after a 76 at the same course.


The USGA writes:

Pinehurst’s renowned Course No. 2, which is playing more than 3 shots tougher by stroke average than No. 4, Wu made 16 pars and two bogeys to back up his Monday effort, which was accomplished without benefit of the practice rounds most other players had on Saturday and Sunday.

“Towards the back nine today was definitely tough, just because No. 2 is such a mental grind, as well,” said Wu, who received his Stanford diploma in June, just after completing the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he tied for 35th place. “You’re trying to hit perfect shots on every hole just to maybe have a look at birdie, so that was kind of wearing down, and it was getting hot towards the end, too. Luckily I was able to finish it off, but I was definitely pretty tired.”

Wu’s 3-under 137 total was one better than six players, all of whom completed their rounds. The second round of stroke play was delayed by 1 hour, 21 minutes in the late afternoon, which kept 50 players from finishing their rounds. The second round will resume on Wednesday morning at 7:20 a.m., with players jockeying for position to advance in the championship. A total of 66 players were at 4 over or better as those remaining players seek to lock in spots in the 64-player match play field. The closest player to Wu who had not completed play was Spencer Ralston, of Gainesville, Ga., at 1 over with two holes to play.

Among the six players to finish at 2-under 138 is Ricky Castillo, 18, of Yorba Linda, Calif., a stroke-play co-medalist last month in the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur at Inverness, and Cooper Dossey, 21, of Austin, Texas, who won the North & South Amateur on Pinehurst No. 2 in late June. The group also includes Jacob Solomon, 22, of Auburn, Ala.; Shiryu (Leo) Oyo, 20, of Japan; Tom Sloman, 23, of England; and Philip Barbaree, 22, of Shreveport, La., the 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur champion.

Only 11 players completed 36 holes at even-par 140 or better.

What’s Next

Round 2 will be completed, beginning at 7:20 a.m. on Wednesday, with a possible playoff for the final match-play spots beginning after the completion of the round, from the first hole of Course No. 4. The Round of 64 is scheduled to begin on Course No. 2 at approximately 10 a.m.


Karl Vilips, 17, of Australia, who is competing in his third U.S. Amateur, improved by 12 strokes from Monday to Tuesday, shooting a bogey-free, 5-under 65 on Course No. 4 after a 7-over 77 on Monday. Vilips completed two rounds at 2-over 142 and easily qualified for match play.

Pinehurst No. 2 is playing as one of the toughest courses in recent U.S. Amateurs. The course, which is playing to 7,414 yards and a par of 70, is averaging more than 7 strokes over par at 77.04. That is just behind three other courses since 2007: Chambers Bay in 2010 was 8.25 over par; Southern Hills in 2009 was 7.62 over par; and The Olympic Club in 2007 was 7.36 over par. At 7,246 yards, Pinehurst No. 4 is playing to a 73.32 stroke average, nearly four strokes easier than No. 2.

The past two U.S. Junior Amateur champions both failed to make match play. Reigning champion Preston Summerhays, who won last month at Inverness, shot 77-73 to finish at 10-over 150, while 2018 champion Michael Thorbjornsen shot 69-78 to finish at 7-over 147. Akshay Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., who was runner-up to Thorbjornsen last year and is No. 5 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, is likely to make match play after rounds of 72-72.

The longest playoff in recent memory in the U.S. Amateur was nine holes in 1993, in which it is believed 24 players were competing for 13 spots. Playoffs in 2002 (16 players for 12 spots) and in 2016 (23 players for 8 spots) each took seven holes.

Meanwhile, Royal Dublin's Max Kennedy opened with a two-under 70 to lead the Irish challenge in R&A Boys Amateur Championship at Saunton.

Kennedy was tied for 15th, six strokes behind France's Tom Gueant who opened with an eight-under 63 to lead the race for 64 spots in the matchplay.

Seapoint's Dylan Keating, Baltinglass' Joseph Byrne and Lisburn's Aaron Marshall shared 25th after one-under 70s with Black Bush's Sean Doyle 41st after a 71.

In the R&A Girls Amateur Championship at Panmure, Kirkistown Castle's Beth Coulter was 41st, Lahinch's Aine Donegan 51st and Elm Park's Anna Foster 52nd after opening with four-over 75s.

Douglas' Sara Byrne was 90th after a 78 as France's Lucie Malchirand fired a seven-under 64 to lead by two strokes from Italy's Alessia Nobilio.


Girls Amateur Championship, Panmure (Par 71)

1st qualifying rd.: Scores

1, L Malchirand (Fra) 64; 2, A Nobilio (Ita) 66; 3, P Babnik (Slo) 67; 4, H Darling (Sco) 69; 5, A Fuller (Eng) 70; 6, I Holpfer (Aut) 71; 7, K Bakker (Fin) 71; 8, C Eisenbeiss (Ger) 71; 9, L Rydqvist (Swe) 71; 10, E Rhodes (Eng) 71. Irish — 43, B Coulter (Kirkistown Castle) 75; 51, A Donegan (Lahinch) 75; 52, A Foster (Elm Park) 75; 90, S Byrne (Douglas) 78.

Boys Amateur Championship, Saunton (Par 71)

1st qualifying rd.: Scores
1, T Gueant (Fra) 63; 2, M Wojciechowski (Ger) 64; T3, J Neira Garcia (Esp) 66, C McKinney (Sco) 66; 5, J Greer (Aus) 67; T6, C Adam (Sco) 68, M Cristoni (Ita) 68; T6, H Islam (Eng) 68, J Stubhaug (Nor) 68, A Wallin (Swe) 68, R Martin (Esp) 68, JM Serra Busquet (Esp) 68, K Strycek (Cze) 68, JL Ballester Barrio 68. Irish — T15 M Kennedy (Royal Dublin) 69; T25, D Keating (Seapoint) 70, J Byrne (Baltinglass) 70, A Marshall (Lisburn) 70; T41, S Doyle (Black Bush) 71; T67, S Murphy (Portumna) 72,J Mackin (Dundalk) 72, A Smith (Mullingar) 72; T94, L O’Neill (Connemara) 73; T117, R McNelis (Fintona) 74, R Galligan (Elm Park) 74, E Sullivan (Carton House) 74; T143, J McCabe (Roganstown) 75, K Morrison (Holywood) 75; T169, S Walker (Roscommon) 76; T240, S Downes (Royal Dublin) 82.