History tells us some players at the 111th U.S.
Amateur will be PGA Tour stars of the future
iven that there will be free admission and no
bothersome ropes to stand behind, golf fans who
attend the upcoming 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship
at Erin Hills will have the chance to follow, closely, the big
stars of golf’s near future. Previous winners include such
luminaries of the sport as Phil Mickelson and Justin
Leonard, Matt Kuchar and Scott Verplank, Mark O'Meara
and Hal Sutton and Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods and Tiger
Woods, who ruled the event from 1994 through ‘96.
They could wind up following the next Colt Knost,
Richie Ramsay or Nick Flanagan, all of whom won the
Amateur in recent years but have not made much of an
Or they could follow the next Jhonattan Vegas, a semifinalist at the 2007 Amateur who has absolutely made an
impact on the pro game.
To reference an old cliché, that’s golf.
Still, whether or not this year’s U.S. Amateur champion
becomes the game’s Next Big Thing, there will be a number
of players in the event who will make a living in professional
golf, said the USGA’s Ben Kimball, and there will be no
better chance to get a sneak peak at the game’s future.
Want proof? Kimball offers the number of amateurs who
qualified for this year’s U.S. Open as evidence that, to
paraphrase the slogan, these guys have game, too.
“There are probably 20 to 25 players I could rattle right
off the top of my head that are going to be making that
jump” to professional golf, he said – to the Nationwide
Tour if not the PGA tour. “For the fans, golf fans in Wis-
consin, if they want to get a look at golf’s next generation,
they ought to get out to Erin Hills.”
Rich Tock, Erin Hills’ director of golf, made the same
point. Fans who elect to follow a match between, say, the
No. 2 player from Oklahoma State and the top player
from the University of Texas will likely be guaranteed
The days of the 50-year-old amateur who sells insurance
by day and plays tournament golf on weekends are
largely gone, Tock said. The amateur field will include the
finest college players in the land, many of whom have
their eyes set on the PGA Tour prize down the road.
Take the highly touted Peter Uihlein, the 2010 U.S.
Amateur champion at Chambers Bay GC in Washington,
who will be in Wisconsin to de-
fend his title.