William E. Fallon, a member of the USGA Executive Committee along with medalists (Left to Right) Doug Ghim, Zane Thomas, Byron Meth and Rico Hoey during the second round of stroke play of the 2014 U.S. Public Links at Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton, Kan. on Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)
July 15, 2-14 - Byron Meth, Zane Thomas, Douglas Ghim and Rico Hoey took different routes to get there, but after 36 holes at Sand Creek Station Golf Course, the quartet shared medalist honors at 8-under-par 134 in stroke-play qualifying at the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
It is the first time since 1939 that four players have shared medalist honors at the APL, which is in its 89th and final playing.
Meth, 21, of San Diego, made just one bogey in two rounds over the 7,365-yard, par-71 layout designed by Jeff Brauer. On Tuesday, he carded his second consecutive 67, twice making back-to-back birdies (on holes 5-6 and 9-10), before closing his round with eight straight pars.
“I played really steady rounds the last two days,” said Meth, who hit 13 of 14 fairways on Tuesday. “The ultimate goal was just to get into match play, but obviously I’m honored to be the last medalist at the Pub Links.”
Meth is playing in his second APL. He qualified for match play in 2012 at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway, Utah, but lost to hometown favorite Zac Blair in the first round. A senior at the University of the Pacific, Meth posted a seven-stroke victory in the West Coast Conference Championships in April and finished tied for sixth at the Sahalee Players Championship two weeks ago.
Thomas, 20, of Las Vegas, Nev., shared the overnight lead after a first-round 66. He backed up that effort with an up-and-down, 3-under 68 that featured six birdies and three bogeys.
“I struggled a little bit on my first nine,” said Thomas, who estimated that he had been an alternate five times before qualifying for the 2014 APL, his first USGA championship. “My driver really kept me in it again. Then I made the turn and got hot with the putter.”
Thomas made four birdies in a closing nine of 32, which included a chip-in on the par-5 fourth. In total, the junior at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas made 13 birdies over the first 36 holes to lead the field.
Ghim, 18, of Arlington Heights, Ill., had a chance to claim outright medalist honors, but missed a 4-foot par putt on the 18th hole. Even so, the 65 tied the lowest round of his career.
“Whenever you get to say that you’re a medalist at a USGA championship it means a lot, especially since this is the last one,” said Ghim, who lost in the semifinals of the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur. “It definitely is one of the pinnacles of my career so far.”
Rico Hoey, 18, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., shot the low round of the championship on Tuesday, birdieing three of his final four holes to card a 7-under 64. While playing at the University of Southern California this past year, Hoey was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. He was also one of 10 collegiate golfers chosen to represent the United States at the 2014 Palmer Cup two weeks ago in England.
All four of the medalists had afternoon starting times on Tuesday. Sam Horsfield (68-69–137), of England, was the top finisher among those who played on Tuesday morning.
The 2014 APL is Horsfield’s sixth USGA championship. He will play in next week’s U.S. Junior Amateur at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas, and recently qualified for next month’s U.S. Amateur with a blistering 13-under 131 at Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge in Winter Garden, Fla.
A day after shooting 66, 2013 APL medalist Garrett Rank, of Canada, made six bogeys in a round of 75. Despite his struggles on Tuesday, Rank advanced to match play for the fifth consecutive year at the APL.
Jordan Niebrugge, of Mequon, Wis., the defending champion, overcame a slow start to advance to match play as well. He carded three birdies on his last nine holes to post 4-over 146.
With the cut line falling at 5-over 147, 11 competitors played off to determine the final seven spots in the match-play field of 64 players. Starting on the par-5 10th, four players – Aaron Flores, Andrej Bevins, Sean Carlon and Ted Moon – birdied the first hole to advance. On the par-4 11th, Vinnie Murphy made eagle and Paul McClure made birdie to secure their places, and on the par-4 12th, Joshua Lee chipped in for birdie to claim the final spot in the match-play field.
The U.S. Amateur Public Links is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. First-round matches begin on Wednesday at 8 a.m. CDT, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Saturday.