WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Taconic Golf Club Monday hosted regional qualifying for the 2018 U.S. Amateur Championship.
Sixty-five golfers competing for three spots at the championship , which will be held at historic Pebble Beach Golf Club in early August. Qualifying for the U.S. Amateur gives the players a taste of the week-long grind that the tournament is famous for. Thirty-six holes in the heat of July would separate three golfers from the rest, two of them members of the Williams College men's golf team, Sam Goldenring and Will Kannegieser.
Kannegieser was the best golfer on the day, firing a 6-under 65 in the afternoon after a pedestrian round of 72 in the morning. Goldenring likewise improved in the afternoon, posting a 68 in the afternoon after an even-par round of 71 in the morning session.
The third qualifier out of Williamstown was Matthew Paradis of Hooksett, N.H., whose afternoon round of 74 was just barely good enough after a smooth 69 on his first 18 holes. Recent Trinity College grad Nate Choukas stumbled over his last few holes and eventually fell one shot short of qualifying outright, though his afternoon 69 secured him the first alternate position.
The field included two more Ephs, Grant Raffel and Jack Coyne, returning to Williamstown to try their hand at a course they are comfortable with. Unfortunately, the two struggled during the morning session to the point where they would have had to pull off the spectacular to advance to Pebble. Both recovered with solid afternoon rounds of 77 and 74 respectively.
Goldenring and Kannegieser were naturally playing with an advantage at Taconic, the 6,800-yard, par-71 track that the players call home during the college season. The extensive game planning required when playing a new course was not necessary for the Ephs, leaving them free to play as they would any other round.
Both players have had this event circled on their calendars for some time, targeting it as a unique opportunity to qualify for the U.S. Amateur, a tournament whose list of past champions reads like a walk through golf's hall of fame. Both players believed they had as good a shot as anyone, perhaps even better considering their own track records at Taconic. Both have won collegiate events at Taconic, and both have finished in red figures several times in tournaments and practice rounds. The heightened level of competition meant that two rounds around par would be a must, and both delivered, finishing as the only two players under par in the field of 65.
The rising juniors now have another event to put on their summer schedules, the United States Amateur Championship. Play starts on Monday, Aug. 13, with stroke play qualifying for the match play rounds later in the week.
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