4 players shoot 139; advance to top seeds in AZ Amateur

The crowd gathered at Pinnacle Peak Country Club to learn their fate in the 2010 Arizona Amateur Championship late Tuesday, as the final golfers turned in their round-two score cards. Four players finished as co-medalists, with a two-day total of 139—round one frontrunner Kyle Kallan of Surprise, Jake Golembiewski of Chandler, Gary Quinn of Anthem and Marc Watkins of Scottsdale. To add to the excitement, 10 players, each with a two-day total of 151, played-off for the final three spots to advance to match play.

Sixty-four players will advance to match play, which begins Wednesday morning. David McDaniel, who was automatically seeded to match play as the defending champion, withdrew late Monday night after a grueling week playing seven rounds in six days at the US Amateur Public Links Championship, where he finished as runner up.

As the tension mounted, the four co-medalists enjoyed their achievements. “I hit the ball really well,” said Watkins, who shot a four-under 68 and made four birdies and one eagle Tuesday. He currently plays for Scottsdale Community College. “I felt like my swing was working all day. I started off a little shaky with the putter, then started rolling the putts in on hole 10. I was jump-started by a nice two iron from the fairway. From there I tried to hit all the fairways I could, to give myself as many opportunities as I could. I let the putter do the rest.”

Though he finished round one with a par 72, Gary Quinn, who plays for the Ohio State Buckeyes, pushed to the front of the pack with a five-under 67 in round two. “Yesterday I had 16 pars, one birdie and one bogey, so I wasn’t real close to the hole,” recalled Quinn. “I didn’t give myself a lot of opportunities to make birdies.” Tuesday he made three birdies and one eagle. “I did the same thing today through the first 13 holes, all pars and one birdie, and then I started hitting some wedges and got the ball close. I knew I was three under for the tournament going into the 18. I knew I had to eagle it to have a chance to be in contention for medalist. I crushed my drive and had 235 yards into the hole, and then hit a hybrid to 25 feet and made the putt.”

Last year he was defeated in the semifinal round of the Arizona Amateur, but this year Quinn hopes to take home the kachina. “Last year I played pretty well through the match play. I got to the semifinals, so I’m pretty confident going into tomorrow. If I continue the way I played my last five holes today, I’m confident I can make it all the way to the final and win it all.” A week ago Quinn played in the Eastern Amateur in Virginia. He shot five- under for the tournament and finished 11th out of 174 players.

Jake Golembiewski, who will play for Grand Canyon University in the fall and placed second in this year’s Falcon Amateur, shot a one-under 71. “It was kind of a tale of two nines today,” he said. “On the front nine I only hit two greens and scrambled well. At the turn I was able to hit the ball a little better and string together a couple of birdies. For the two days, I’m pleased with my score.”

After finishing the day with a par 72 and five birdies, a more modest Kallan remarked, “I felt I played pretty good today. It’s just a positioning day anyways; it’s just for your seed. It’s a whole new tournament starting tomorrow.” Kallan, who won the 2008 and 2009 Northern Amateurs as well as the 2010 Phoenix City Amateur, is fourth in the AGA performance rankings with 445 points. “Overall I’m excited and happy I made it. I got a high seed, but I still have to play solid for the next few days. I still have to do the same stuff I’ve been doing.”
Golembiewski remarked, “Hopefully I can hit it better going forward. I don’t think there’s a difference with match play, I’m just going to play my game. Obviously anything can happen in match play. I’m going to take it one match at a time.” Golembiewski placed second in this year’s Falcon Amateur and he was named a National Junior College All American while playing for Mesa Community College.

Watkins is prepping himself for match play. “I’m going to regroup for match play, get my shots together,” he said. “I’m going to realize I can have a bad hole and still be alright, unlike stroke play.” Last year he didn’t make it to match play. “I feel like my game is more consistent this year. Last year I could hit the shots, but not on every hole. I’ve been working hard on my putting the last couple of months and I feel like it’s been paying off.”

Kallan is excited for match play. “I love match play,” he said. “I think it’s a great format. It’s just you versus your competitor. It’s just, ‘What can I do to beat the guy I’m playing?’”

To highlight the day, Phoenix’s Mike Lopez used his seven iron to make a hole in one on hole three from 180 yards. Additionally, Scottsdale’s Jim Russo, who hadn’t played in a tournament in six years, shared the round two low score of five-under 67 with Quinn and Scottsdale’s Blake Brown. Russo said, “My friends at Tatum Ranch urged me to play in the Amateur and I’m thankful that they did.” He’s looking forward to starting match play Wednesday. Brown will also advance to match play.