Giles last Aussie to fly US Amateur flag
BY Anthony Powter | US Mens Amateur Tour | 2008 US Amateur Championship | General | 05 Aug 2008
American based Matthew Giles remains the only Australian hopeful of gaining a start in this year’s US Amateur Championship starting 18 August at Pinehurst in North Carolina. New Zealand’s whiz-kid Danny Lee made it through his qualification today to ensure some representation from down under.
Giles will compete in the 36-hole sectional qualifier at Muskegon Country Club in Michigan this week for one of only three qualification spots in an attempt to join the 312 strong championship field proper.
Matt Giles Audio Interview
The 2005 Callaway World Junior champion moved to the US earlier in the year and is a freshman at the University of South California. At 18 he has already received a PING All-America honourable mention by the Golf Coaches Association of America.
Giles’ baptism on the main amateur circuit this season has been impressive as he quickly adapts with vigor to the challenges of progressing from the junior amateur ranks.
He was the top Australian at Dogwood Invitational back in June in Atlanta, Georgia, finishing T12 at 10-under-par. The following week Giles secured a runner-up finish at the Sahalee Players Championship, finishing with five birdies over his final 9-holes to take sole possession of 2nd place and in doing so was the only player in the tournament field to shoot under-par in every round on a layout that has hosted PGA Championships.
Presently Giles has his focus upon making it to the US Amateur.
“This is undoubtedly the hardest amateur championship to get in to,” said Giles.
“It’s the only national championship you have to qualify to get in. It’s not like the Australian or British Amateur where you pay your entry fee and get balloted on your handicap. With the US Amateur you have to win your way into the event. It’s an enourmous challenge.”
Throughout its 113 year history the US Amateur has been the most coveted of all amateur titles in the world.
Many of the great names of professional golf such as Gene Littler, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lanny Wadkins, Craig Stadler, Jerry Pate, Mark O’Meara, Hal Sutton, Phil Mickelson and the youngest ever winner, an 18-year-old Tiger Woods in 1994, have claimed the Havemeyer Cup. It tops the list of championships for any aspiring professional with the rewards including a start in the British Open, US Open and if they are still an amateur, The Masters.
Australian PGA Tour player Nick Flanagan won the championship in 2003 at Oakmont Country Club when he defeated American Casey Wittenberg on the 37th hole. He turned professional shortly after and has never looked back.
Flanagan remains the only Australian to win the US Amateur in a championship most of our main amateurs this year have shunned. Aside from Giles, there were only three other Australians who attempted to qualify.
Oklahoma based Rhein Gibson missed qualification by two strokes at Staley Farms Golf Club in Kansas City, Mitchell Krywulycz, another US based collegiate missed out at Piedmonths Driving Club, whilst Canberra’s Matthew Smith attempted Battleground Country Club.
The new world number one, New Zealand’s Danny Lee, like Giles, has taken up the enormity of the challenge of attempting to gain a start in the US Amateur. He’d hadn’t even had time to check out the names on the Western Amateur trophy before he was in the car with his uncle to get to Springfield for his sectional qualification.
That’s the lure of the US Amateur for those willing to make the sacrifices – a chance to play in arguably the most coveted amateur championship in the world.