UNF golfers come home after U.S. Amateurs

Spinnaker

UNF golfers Sean Dale, Kevin Aylwin and Kevin Phelan competed in the U.S. Amateur Championship Aug. 23 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.

With 312 players to start the tournament, Dale, Aylwin and Phelan said they knew it would be a challenge. After two rounds, the field of 312 was cut down to just 64 players.

None of the three golfers made the cut. Aylwin and Phelan both shot a 77 in the first round and 77 again in the second round, with a total of 154. Dale shot a 78 in the first round and improved the second round, shooting 76 for a total of 154, making it 11-over-par for all three golfers for the tournament. Phelan thought it was funny that they all happened to end up with the same scores, he said.

The three UNF golfers were each six shots away from making a playoff to make the cut. The course’s difficulty proved to be just as tough as they thought. Alywin, Dale and Phelan all agreed the course’s condition was the toughest feat to overcome.

“The ground was extremely hard, so it was different than anything I’d ever played on before,” Aylwin said.

Dale also had a hard time adjusting to the course with the conditions in which he is not used to playing, he said.

“It was a very long course, and the greens played very firm, which is something that, being from Florida, I wasn’t used to,” Dale said. “Also the wind picked up in the afternoon which is when I was teeing off.”

Chambers Bay is a par 71 for a total of 7,742 yards. Phelan found the length and speed of the course made for a tough two rounds, he said.

“I think considering how long the course was, the greens were the most difficult,” Phelan said. “It was over 7,700 yards. They were really firm and fast. It was tough to hold them when hitting long irons. Putting was tough too because they were really fast and you couldn’t be too aggressive.”

The Chambers Bay course also features hard greens with fescue grass, making it difficult to place the ball close to the pin.

“It’s something I’ve never putted on until now,” Dale said. “[Groundskeepers] have the ability to get them pretty much as firm as concrete.”

All three UNF golfers had difficulty with the greens.

There were aspects on which the players wish they would have improved through the time they played the course.

“I would like to have putted more aggressive than I did,” Alywin said. “I tried to limit my mistakes and make lots of pars.”

Dale wished he would have been more patient and let it come to him instead of forcing a lot of shots which then caused him to play poorly, he said.

“I would say mostly all the time I play very aggressively. Risk/reward sort of,” Dale said. “Being aggressive on this course really wasn’t an option.”

Although none of the UNF golfers made the cut, it was a new experience for all of them.

“We all didn’t play to our potential, but we played decent rounds at Chambers Bay, considering the difficulty of it,” Aylwin said.

Alywin was happy with the way he finished both of the rounds after tough starts. He hit bad shots and made some high numbers, he said.

“They treated us like tour professionals, which I guess kind of put me in a focused mindset. It’s the best golf course I have ever seen or played,” Dale said. “I hope to qualify again next year and look to redeem myself.”

The U.S. Amateur is the oldest event the United States Golf Association holds.

“All USGA events are really well run, so I enjoyed that,” Phelan said. “Also it was a great field as it always is. The weather was perfect too which always makes it nice.”

The weather was not the only enjoyable element of being in Washington.

“The course was great, as well. It’s right on the Puget Sound, so that was awesome,” Phelan said.

Phelan’s strategy was to tune out everyone around him and focus on his own game, he said.

“That’s how I play my best. It didn’t end up playing very well but that’s just how it goes sometimes,” Phelan said.

Dale, Phelan and Alywin all had successful summers, giving them opportunities to compete in events such as the U.S. Amateur Championship.

“Looking back at the summer, obviously it would have been great to play well out there, but I’m happy with my results all over,” Phelan said. “None of us played well, but it was a good experience that will hopefully help us have another good season this year.”

Peter Vihlein from Orlando, Fla. won the tournament with 144, defeating David Chung from Fayetteville, N.C.