Three UNF golfers to compete in U.S. Amateur Championship

Spinnaker

UNF golfers Kevin Aylwin, Sean Dale and Kevin Phelan are scheduled to compete in the U.S. Amateur Championship Aug. 23-26 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.

The athletes qualified to compete in the championship by placing second at the Orange County National Golf Center qualifying event,placing second in the qualifier event at Sawgrass Country Club and competing in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, respectively.

The U.S. Amateur Championship is the oldest event the United States Golf Association holds, with past winners including Tiger Woods, Bobby Jones, Ricky Barnes and Jack Nicklaus.

The par 71 course features the back nine near the beach, with plenty of dreadful bunkers to get in the way. Dale is focused on playing the U.S. Amateur just as well as he did at Sawgrass.

“My main goal for the tournament is playing level headed,” he said. “I can’t put too much pressure on myself.”

Golf courses vary depending on the location. Chambers Bay will be very different than the Florida courses Dale is used to. It is a different golf course with different grass on the greens and different grass on the fairway, Dale said.  Aylwin also said he needed to get used to the area and the feel of the course in Washington. The weather can also be a factor on how well a course can be played. Wind, rain or even heat can determine on how well the field will play.

“The weather will be very different, too,” Dale said. “It will probably be cold in the mornings, and I am used to 100 degree weather here in Florida.”

The U.S Amateur Championship has a very large field of competitors. With over 300 players, the three Ospreys know the competition will be tough.

“Patience is key,” Phelan said. He recently played in Wales for his home country Ireland, similar to the Chambers bay golf course, which will give him an advantage for the course in Washington.

The three teammates have pushed the Ospreys to a very successful summer, winning their home tournament at Sawgrass. This marks the first time three UNF golfers will compete at the same time in the U.S. Amateur Championship.

“I am just focused on making the cut,” Aylwin said.

The three teammates look forward to the tough tournament but are focused at the same time, reflecting back on their past accomplishments.

“Winning at Sawgrass, finishing in the top 20 at the end of the year and making it to nationals has meant a lot to this team,” Dale said. “It also meant a lot to our coach to have a great summer.”

Head Coach Scott Schroeder is heading into his fifth season with the Ospreys, with Dale and Aylwin returning as juniors and Phelan returning as a sophomore.

“The guys just continue to work hard, and if you do that, you will play well,” Schroeder said. “It also shows we have a lot of talent when you have multiple players playing well.”

This summer, the players have had individual success across the board, with Phelan participating in the U.S. Open, Dale winning the 93rd Florida State Amateur and Major Forbess winning the Jacksonville Area Golf Association Amateur Championship. The team as a whole has also had success by winning at Sawgrass.

“The continuous matter of confidence really helped us this summer,” Dale said. “Ever since we won at Sawgrass, we have been playing well.”