After leading his team to its best-ever showing at NCAAs (11th) in June, being named ACC and Virginia State Coach of the Year, and earning the verbal commitment of one of the top juniors in the country in Denny McCarthy, head men’s golf coach Bowen Sargent could say he’s had a pretty good summer. Sargent put the proverbial icing on the cake on Monday however, by qualifying for this year’s US Amateur Championship, to be held at Chambers Bay Golf Club just outside Seattle in late August.
Sargent claimed the second spot out of a 49-man qualifier held at Birdwood Golf Course, winning in a playoff after shooting 71-71 in an effort he could only describe as, "unbelievable-unbelievable".
He made a 25-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole to book a trip to his third US Am, after competing in 1990 and ’91. Afterward Sargent said, "It was a miracle…I don't get much chance to play. I'm too busy recruiting all summer." Despite the busy schedule, Sargent beat out second-year Cory Siegfried by two shots, and former Cavalier Kyle Stough and assistant Jay Fisher by five shots at the qualifier. In a reflection of great hires by Craig Littlepage, this is the third straight year a member of the Virginia men’s coaching staff has qualified for the US Am, as Fisher played in it each of the last two years.
Joining Sargent in Seattle will be fourth-years Amory Davis and Henry Smart and recent verbal commit Denny McCarthy from Maryland. Davis and Smart both advanced out of a qualifier in Plymouth, PA, where Davis shot 1-under 141 to finish second and Smart won a two-hole playoff after shooting 143. McCarthy, a rising senior at Georgetown Prep, finished third at his qualifier in Crofton, MD.
The US Am is by far the most prestigious amateur tournament all year, with nearly 7,900 people attempting to qualify this year. When asked about the prospect of facing one of his own players in match-play at the US Am, Sargent could only say, "I really don’t want that to happen." But facing a course that has already been tabbed to host the 2015 US Open, and playing the best competition of the summer, it would be awesome for the program to advance one or two guys to match play out of the 156-man field!
All-told between the men’s and women’s golf programs, we’ll have nine people competing amongst the top 150 male and female amateurs in the country in this year’s US Amateur Championships! Go Hoos!
In other big news for the men’s team this summer, second-year Cory Siegfried won the Pennsylvania Amateur Championship in late July, shooting 66-70-72 to win by three shots. He beat out second-year teammate Gregor Orlando, who finished sixth. Siegfried had to sit-out the majority of the spring with a wrist injury but worked hard during the summer to come back and win his first major amateur title.
Siegfried’s title means the men’s team is going to be absolutely stacked next year, returning All-American third-year Ben Kohles, All-ACC fourth-year Will Collins, two-time tournament winner Amory Davis as well as fourth-year Henry Smart. The boys should challenge for a ton of tournament titles next year!
On deck next week: The US Women’s Am at Charlotte Country Club, August 9th-15th. Five members of the women’s team will be competing against 156 players in two days of stroke play competition, then the low 64 move on to match play, "march madness" style. With the most individuals competing of any college team in the country, look for several UVa girls to make it deep into match play!! Also look for a blog post live from the Am on STL sometime next week! And if anybody really wants to come out and watch (and lose a few pounds in the Carolina heat/humidity), tee times will be available at www.usga.org on Sunday.