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U.S. Amateur Qualifier: West Shore

Bacha, Smith top #USAmateur Qual. at West Shore

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CAMP HILL, Pa. — A couple of surging 17-year-olds from opposing coasts met at the medalist platform during a U.S. Amateur Qualifier administered by GAP at West Shore Country Club (par 72, 6,737 yards).

Carson Bacha (right) of York, Pa. and Ryan Smith of Carlsbad, Calif. posted matching 5-under-par 139s to grab the only two qualifying spots available Tuesday upon the completion of Round Two. The U.S. Amateur Qualifier, a 36-hole, one day event, extended into a second day after significant rainfall caused a five-hour delay Monday. Round One wrapped up at 7:30 p.m.

The U.S. Amateur will take place Aug. 12-18 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Village of Pinehurst, N.C.

In addition to sharing medalist honors, Bacha and Smith both relied on caddie reassurance to persevere at West Shore. And get this. Their respective caddies, coincidentally, are brothers of their respective swing coaches. And get this. They’re both named Mike: Mike Carazo for Bacha, Mike Maguire for Smith.

During his outward tour Tuesday, Bacha, who started on the back nine, missed five birdie putts inside 15 feet. The frustration peaked as he walked off No. 17 (par 5, 548 yards) green. Caddie Mike Carazo, the brother of Bacha’s swing coach, Ray Carazo, put his arm around the co-medalist’s shoulder.

“He was really positive. He told me that we still have a bunch of golf left to be played,” Bacha, an Out Door Country Club member, said. “He was able to keep us in the moment. That helped us put together a great back nine.”

A bogey-free back nine to solidify a bogey-free round. On No. 2 (par 5, 547 yards), Bacha bumped a wedge to two feet for birdie. His “best drive of the day” on No. 5 (par 4, 394 yards) left the 2018 Pennsylvania Golf Association Junior Boys’ Champion with 93 yards for his approach. Bacha knocked a 58-degree wedge to a foot. Another tap-in birdie occurred on the next hole (par 4, 400 yards) after he hit a 130-yard knockdown 9-iron.

Bacha registered 24 greens in regulation and totaled 28 putts in Monday’s opening round. Hence the early aggravation — and needed Carazo consultation — in Round Two.   

“I didn’t miss a single putt inside 10 feet yesterday. That’s why I got a little frustrated on [my] front nine today,” Bacha, an incoming senior at Central York High School and Auburn University commit, said.

Smith, the event’s 18-hole leader at 4 under, felt the frustration bubbling after a double bogey on No. 2 Tuesday. His drive breached out-of-bounds right by a mere six inches. Smith also bogeyed the next hole (par 3, 211 yards) after missing a seven-footer. Caddie Mike Maguire, the brother of Smith’s swing coach, Pat Maguire, stepped in and helped settle the storm.

“It’s great to have somebody who knows your coach and can talk and relate on a similar level. He caddied on the PGA TOUR, too, so it’s good to have the confidence level and experience,” Smith said.

A 50-yard wedge shot to three feet for birdie on No. 4 (par 5, 582 yards) diverted Smith’s mind from the mistake madness. Despite playing a 9-iron safely to the middle of the No. 9 (par 3, 165 yards) green, Smith sagged his shoulders and shook his head. Maguire verified the landing spot as a fine location — a minimal bogey-threat.

The words worked. Smith buried a 25-footer for birdie to move to 3 under.

“I really was just trying to lag it down to the hole. I wasn’t trying to make it,” Smith, an incoming senior at Classical Academy High School, said. “It caught a piece of the hole and went in. That was a little bit of a bonus. That gave me momentum going into the back nine. That got me back into a comfortable space.”

Smith used that momentum to, like Bacha, card a bogey-free back nine. He converted an eight-footer for red on No. 13 (par 3, 178 yards) following a crisp 8-iron. A wedge from the front left of the No. 15 (par 4, 305 yards) green resulted in a three-footer for more red.

Like Bacha, Smith used a blazing putter in Round One to burst into qualifying contention. He totaled 23 putts, including a pair of tap-in birdies on Nos. 2 (par 5, 547 yards) and 4 (par 5, 582 yards).

Smith now heads to his second straight U.S. Amateur. He fell in the Round of 64 at Pebble Beach. Bacha will make his U.S. Amateur debut. He lost in a sudden-death playoff for a qualifying spot in 2018.

“It feels good to come back and get through. Last year was a stinger,” Bacha said.

In order to qualify, Smith decided to return to his East Coast roots. He lived in Leesburg, Va. for a decade. That’s where he met Pat Maguire, who works at Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club in Leesburg.

Smith, who’s competed in two U.S. Junior Amateurs (2017-18), intended to return to California last night for the IMG Academy Junior World Championships. Monday’s five-hour delay — and his position on the leaderboard Tuesday morning — changed his plans.

“It was kind of a split decision. In the end, I guess it worked out,” Smith said.

An invitation to Pinehurst suggests that it did.

GAP
Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 274 Full Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

Qualifiers
Name, city, scoreR1R2Total
Ryan Smith, Carlsbad, Calif.6871139
Carson Bacha, York, Pa.7069139
Alternates (in order)
Brock Kovach, Wyomissing, Pa.6971140
*Calen Sanderson, Newtown, Pa.7468142
Failed to qualify
*Connor Flach, Ellicott City, Md.7072142
*J.D. Hughes, Carlisle, Pa.7270142
Justin Feldman, Rockville, Md.7370143
Ben Smith, Blain, Pa.7668144
Danny Harcourt, Fanwood, N.J.7273145
Peter Knade, Easton, Md.7372145
Garrett Engle, Harrisburg, Pa.7273145
Robert Falconer, Carlisle, Pa.7372145
Matt Shevlin, Upper Darby, Pa.7768145
Tyler Stahle, Philadelphia, Pa.7273145
Luke Fayocavitz, Clark Summit, Pa.7077147
Christopher Warner, Yardley, Pa.7572147
Campbell Wolf, Mechanicsburg, Pa.7077147
Sam Lape, Atlanta, Ga.7275147
Gray Matthews, Raleigh, N.C.7473147
Jeff Frazier, Mechanicsburg, Pa.7177148
David Herbst, Mechanicsburg, Pa.7474148
Ian Hildebrand, Purcellville, Va.7573148
Conrad Von Borsig, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.7474148
J.T. Barker, Bethlehem, Pa.7276148
Olegs Garner, Augusta, Ga.7375148
Attie Giles, Pinehurst, N.C.7474148
Austin Schreffler, Dillsburg, Pa.7375148
Adam Condello, Fairport, N.Y.7376149
Trey Smith, North Chesterfield, Va.7278150
Anthony Barr, Harleysville, Pa.7179150
Caleb Bryant, New Freedom, Pa.7476150
Zachary Henry, Front Royal, Va.7971150
Garrett Whitfield, Johnson City, Tenn.7476150
Tom Lape, Atlanta, Ga.7378151
Thomas Mattaini, Lititz, Pa.7774151
Trent Geritz, Towson, Md.7874152
Andrew Romano, Depew, N.Y.7478152
Mitchell Faulkner, Bradford, Pa.7876154
Kyle Quagliero, Southampton, N.J.7579154
Grant Gronka, Bloomsburg, Pa.7381154
Matthew Monastero, Leesburg, Va.7777154
Shaun Fedor, Lancaster, Pa.7580155
Andrew Curran, Media, Pa.8076156
Thomas Romano, Depew, N.Y.7879157
Tyler Cottle, Elizabethtown, Pa.8078158
Garrett Barilar, Bloomsburg, Pa.7583158
Jordan Albright, Tyrone, Pa.8280162
Daniel Tennekoon, Bryn Mawr, Pa.7984163
Kyle Kegerreis, Fayetteville, Pa.8282164
Brandon Berry, Great Falls, Va.71WDWD
Oliver White, Lower Gwynedd, Pa.75WDWD
Andreas Aivazoglou, Glen Mills, Pa.76WDWD
Nick Vecellio, Fogelsville, Pa.78WDWD
Andrew Wallace, Narberth, Pa.78WDWD
Jason Wilson, Orefield, Pa.78WDWD
Jack Buan, St. Louis Park, Minn.79WDWD
Jesse Hazam, Mechanicsburg, Pa.79WDWD
James Rattigan, Jupiter, FL79WDWD
Jonathan Wilson, Dallas, Pa.79WDWD
Curtis Congdon, Clifton, Va.80WDWD
William Walde, Washington, D.C.80WDWD
Dylan Audi, Sinking Spring, Pa.81WDWD
JohnA. Newcomb, Jr., Odenton, Md.81WDWD
Kris Patton, Scottsdale, Ariz.82WDWD
Tyler Wassell, Lancaster, Pa.82WDWD
Duane Bean, Lovettsville, Va.83WDWD
Matthew Mancini, Douglassville, Pa.83WDWD
Timothy Gerard, Ashburn, Va.95WDWD
Geoff Castleton, Centreville, Va.WDWDWD
Erik Bertrand, Pittsburgh, Pa.WDWDWD
Kyle Cox, Carrollton, TexasWDWDWD
Alex Wedding, Arlington, Va.WDWDWD
Clayton Davidson, Mechanicsburg, Pa.WDWDWD
Ryan Feldman, Rockville, Md.WDWDWD
Jun Lee, York, Pa.79NSNS
Scott Falatach, Annapolis, Md.81NSNS
Tyler Marchese, Moscow, Pa.NSNSNS
Josh Wiegandt, Dana Point, Calif.NSNSNS
* — determined in playoff
NS — no show; WD — withdrawal