NORMAN, Okla. Many around golf circles surmised that after his stellar freshman season in 2004 and winning the Big 12 individual championship last spring that Anthony Kim wouldn’t be anywhere near the University of Oklahoma campus when classes began for the fall term.
They were right.
Monday, Aug. 22, when the Sooner population reports for its first day of the academic year, Kim will be on the golf course, but he won’t be aiming for a PGA TOUR card as many suspected. He and OU teammate Justin Fraley will be in Ardmore, Pa., vying for the country’s most prestigious amateur golfing title.
And don’t expect to see either on the South Oval too soon.
The 105th U.S. Amateur Championship begins Monday with the first of two stoke-play rounds at the 6,846-yard Merion Golf Club and 6,967-yard Philadelphia Country Club. The low 64 scorers from the field of 312 then advance to the match-play rounds which conclude Sunday, Aug. 28, with the championship match.
Kim is certainly one of the favorites to win. He’s one week removed from helping the United States regain the Walker Cup for the first time since 1997, one month removed from a twice weather-delayed, 20-hole semifinal loss in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship (where he was the stroke-play medalist) and itching to add another line to his rsum.
“I feel my game maybe at its best ever right now,” Kim, who was defeated in the second round last year, 3-and-2, by Chris Nallen, said. “My confidence is at an all-time high and I’ve got nothing to lose.”
Fraley, a dark-horse candidate, is looking to impress on the biggest stage of his young career. The Rowlett, Texas, native owned the junior college ranks, but struggled for consistency during his first season as a Sooner. He showed potential towards the end, however, by sharing the lead of the Big 12 Championship with Kim with one round remaining. He also made it to the match play rounds at the Public Links and dominated his U.S. Amateur qualifier, winning by seven strokes.
“It’s certainly a deep field,” Fraley said, “but if you can make it to match play, anything can happen. It comes down to playing smart golf."
While the competition for the duo will be at its toughest yet, the course may provide more challenges than any long drive or precise short game can cure.
In hopes of attracting more USGA championships, the Merion Golf Club underwent a 10-year renovation that re-tooled the entire landscape and lengthened 14 holes. The U.S. Amateur will be the first major championship to unmask the facelift.
Kim begins his first round at 1:09 p.m. CDT on Merion’s 10th hole. His second round start on Tuesday will be from Philadelphia Country Club 1 at 7:54 a.m.
Fraley, in the same course sequence as Kim, starts Monday at 1:42 p.m. and Tuesday at 8:27 a.m.
The U.S. Amateur will have 10 hours of live national coverage on The Golf Channel and NBC over the last five days of the championship. All times Central.
The Golf Channel
First Round Matches Wednesday, Aug. 24, 3-5 p.m.
Third Round Matches Thursday, Aug. 25, 3-5 p.m.
Quarterfinal Matches Friday, Aug. 26, 3-5 p.m.
Semifinal Matches Saturday, Aug. 27, 3-5 p.m.
Championship Matches Sunday, Aug. 28, 3-5 p.m.