August 7, 2013
O'Toole & Hughes Set To Compete In U.S. Amateur
Samford men's golfers Casey O'Toole and Zach Hughes will both be competing in the upcoming U.S. Amateur Championship being held Aug. 12-18, at The Country Club and the Charles River Country Club. This accomplishment marks the first time in school history that Samford teammates have qualified for the national event.
The Bulldogs' O'Toole (far left) and Hughes (left) proved to be the first Samford golfers to receive invitations to the U.S. Amateur Championship since Reed Davis achieved the feat in 2006.
O'Toole, who recently closed out his illustrious four-year career at Samford, grabbed a qualifying spot for the U.S. Amateur in dramatic fashion at Burningtree Country Club in Decatur, Ala. He hit a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 9, his 36th hole of the day, to force a tie with Spirit of America champion Alex Mahlik of Madison, Ala.
Just a few minutes before O'Toole's birdie, Mahlik landed in the bunker on No. 9. He ended up with a double-bogey six on the par four. On the first playoff hole, No. 1, Mahlik missed a birdie putt and watched O'Toole make an eight-foot putt for birdie to win the trip to Brookline.
Samford's Hughes, who will begin his junior season for the Bulldogs in the fall, earned his qualifying position in the 2013 U.S. Amateur Championship by tallying co-medalist honors at the Pensacola Country Club. He finished the challenging two-day, 36-hole qualifying event with an even-par 144.
Hughes, a native of Mobile, Ala., excelled in the recent Florida Tournament and turned in a score of 1-under 71 in the final round of play. He saved par on No. 10, which led to a birdie-eagle combination on holes No. 11 and 12. That put him into good position heading into the final two holes at PCC where he was able to qualify for the 2013 U.S. Amateur.
The U.S. Amateur Championship is the oldest golf championship in this country, one day older than the U.S. Open. Except for an eight-year period, 1965-1972, when it was stroke play, the Amateur has been a match-play championship.
Throughout its history, the U.S. Amateur has been the most coveted of all amateur titles. Many of the great names of professional golf, such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lanny Wadkins, Craig Stadler, Jerry Pate, Mark O'Meara, Hal Sutton, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, grace the Havemeyer Trophy.
It was, however, legendary amateur Robert T. Jones Jr., who first attracted national media coverage and sparked spectator attendance at the U.S. Amateur. Jones captured the championship five times (1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930). His 1930 victory was a seminal moment in golf history when, at Merion Cricket Club in Ardmore, Pa., Jones completed the Grand Slam, winning the four major American and British championships in one year.
Sixty-six years later, in 1996, Tiger Woods attracted similar interest and enthusiasm at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore., when he won a record third straight U.S. Amateur, having registered 18 consecutive match-play victories.
In 1994, Woods, at 18, had first entered the record book as the youngest ever to win the Amateur Championship, following his three consecutive Junior Amateur titles (1991-1993). That record has since been broken twice, first by 17-year-old Danny Lee in 2008 at Pinehurst No. 2 in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C., and then in 2009, when 17-year-old Byeong-Hun An won at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., with a 7-and-5 victory over Ben Martin, of Greenwood, S.C.
Each season, the U.S. Amateur Championship is open to amateur golfers who hold a USGA Handicap Index® not exceeding 2.4. The USGA accepted 7,003 entries this year. The record number of entrants is 7,920, in 1999.
The winner of the 2013 U.S. Amateur Championship will receive a gold medal and custody of the Havemeyer Trophy for the ensuing year. The winner will also receive an exemption from local and sectional qualifying for the next U.S. Open, provided he is still an amateur.
Additionally, the winner will earn an exemption from qualifying for the next 10 U.S. Amateurs, an exemption from qualifying for the next British Open Championship and will likely receive an invitation to the next Masters Tournament. Finally, the champion will garner an exemption from qualifying for the next 15 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championships, if eligible.
Both The Country Club and Charles River Country Club are fortunate to be located in wonderful areas just outside of Boston. The Country Club is located in the town of Brookline, while Charles River Country Club is located in the city of Newton.