Matt Giles qualifies for US Amateur
BY Anthony Powter | US Mens Amateur Tour | 2008 US Amateur Championship | General | 06 Aug 2008
US-based Australian Matthew Giles has taken the top qualification spot with an 6-under-par total in the US Amateur qualifier at Muskegon Country Club in Michigan. Giles will be the only Australian to compete in this year’s US Amateur championship, which starts 18 August at the Pinehurst Club in North Carolina.
Giles competed in the 36-hole sectional qualifier at 6-under-par with rounds of 68-70 to claimed medallist honours by five shots and join the 312 strong championship field proper.
Matt Giles Audio Interview
“It’s a real buzz to make the US Amateur in my first attempt,” said the 2006 Callaway World Junior champion.
“This is one of the hardest events to get into simply because you have to qualify. I’m really looking forward to it and plan to get to Pinehurst early for a few practice rounds as I’ve not played there before.”
Giles moved from Sydney 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.
“Sure moving to LA has enabled me to get used to playing in America.”
“The fields in the tournaments we play here are just so strong. I feel my games improved tremendously and one of my main goals that I set this year was to make the US Amateur, so I’m feeling pretty wrapped at the moment.”
Giles has adapted well to the challenges of progressing from the junior amateur ranks where he excelled to become one of the world’s best juniors, cumulating with him winning the 2006 Callaway World Junior title.
This season he was the top Australian at Dogwood Invitational back in June finishing T12 at 10-under-par. The next 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. Giles’ previous best major US amateur result was a T3 at the 2007 Pacific Northwest Amateur.
Giles has his focus now upon playing his first US Amateur although he’s competed in the 2006 US Junior Amateur championship, where he finished in the final 16.
“I’ll take a break for a few days as I’m here with Jason Scrivener and do a bit of practice with him.”
“My preparation will probably be no more different than with other events, but I’ll certainly work on my short game as that’s vital to playing well because the USGA sets the US Amateur layout up to be so challenging.”
Throughout its 113 year history the US Amateur has been the most coveted of all amateur titles in the world with 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, having won the Havemeyer Cup. It tops the list of championships with the rewards to the victor with starts 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 shortly after turned professional 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 elected not to play. There were only three other Australians who attempted to qualify, with Giles the sole survivor.
“That’s the thing about this championship it’s difficult to firstly get into and so many great players have played and won the title,” said Giles.
“I’ve played well this season especially at Sahalee which was on a tough layout, so I looking forward to the challenge at Pinehurst and will just see how things go.”