Cook, Menon shine in U.S. Amateur Qualifier
WILMINGTON, Del. — Michael Cook and Nate Menon finally erased a bitter U.S. Amateur taste at Bidermann Golf Club (par 72, 6,836 yards) Tuesday.
The tireless twentysomethings shared medalist honors in a 36-hole qualifying event administered by GAP. Cook and Menon carded matching 8-under-par 136s and outlasted a 78-player field stricken by severe weather Monday to advance.
The U.S. Amateur will take place Aug. 12-18 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Village of Pinehurst, N.C.
“It’s a little redemption from last year,” Cook, who missed the qualifying cut at Bidermann in 2018, said. “I loved the golf course. I just didn’t put up a number. A month ago, I was hitting it the best I have in a while. Then I took a couple of days off from golf and I had to work harder to find something, day-by-day. I finally got it a couple of days ago. I shot 67 at my home course [Applebrook Golf Club], which gave me confidence that I was checking all of the boxes. I was trying to think of the same things to continue that here.”
“It feels really good. I’ve been close the last couple of years. To finally finish it off and get through to Pinehurst is really exciting,” Menon, 20, of Wyomissing, Pa. said. “I was first alternate [in 2017 and 2018]. Being able to not have to make a decision as to whether you’re going to go down [to the U.S. Amateur host site] is nice. The U.S. Amateur is the pinnacle of amateur golf.”
It took an equitable mix of patience and persistence for Cook and Menon to reach the pinnacle of the leaderboard at Bidermann.
GAP officials suspended play at 4:11 p.m. Monday due to lightning in the area. Severe thunderstorms called for a Tuesday finish, with Cook, Menon and a handful of others soaked in contention.
Neither of the co-medalists gave their leaderboard status a second thought, however.
“It didn’t matter that much,” Menon, who held a one-stroke lead prior to Monday’s suspension, said. “After four holes and nine holes, some guy could have gone birdie-birdie-birdie and been in front of me. I wasn’t too concerned about that. With nine holes left, it was about going out and trying to get settled in.”
“I didn’t even look at the leaderboard until after I finished today,” Cook, 23, of Philadelphia, Pa., said. “I slept alright last night. Thankfully, I hit my tee shot on No. 3 [before the weather delay] so I had a wedge in. It wasn’t too stressful. I was pretty calm the whole day yesterday, and then even into this morning.”
Knowing what he faced on the aforementioned par 4, 421-yard No. 3, Cook rhythmically practiced sand wedge shots prior to Tuesday’s resumption and executed one from 97 yards with perfection once the horn sounded. He then buried a 10-footer for birdie.
Menon, too, knew what to expect when he returned to Bidermann Tuesday: a 96-yard wedge shot on No. 1 (par 4, 361 yards), his 28th hole. He executed it to 12 feet below the flagstick and converted the right-to-left curler.
Menon and Cook also inked key 3s on the gettable par 4, 332-yard No. 7, their 34th hole of the event. Both ripped driver short of the green. For Menon, a bump-and-run up the hill to four feet did the trick. With 30 yards in, Cook knocked a wedge to six feet. Those respective conversions overshadowed inward bogeys on Nos. 5 (par 4, 382 yards) and 9 (par 4, 377 yards).
“It felt good to have something in my pocket,” Menon said.
The co-medalists also pocketed back-to-back back nine birdies in both rounds at Bidermann. Menon dominated Nos. 12 (par 5, 520 yards) and 13 (par 4, 376 yards). On the former, a two-putt followed a 6-iron from 220 yards to the green’s back edge in Round One. Menon again reached the surface in two strokes, this time with a 7-iron from 190 yards, in Round Two. His 20-footer for eagle used the cup as a turnstile. Menon tapped in for birdie. On No. 13 (par 4, 376 yards), crisp wedges from the 90-yard range resulted in birdies of three and 20 feet, respectively.
For his part, Cook strung together birdie conversions on Nos. 14 (par 4, 452 yards) and 15 (par 4, 452 yards). Learning lessons from a year ago, he played a bullet cut off No. 14 tee, which yielded 9-iron and 8-iron setups, respectively. Cook totaled 20 feet in birdie-putt length. Knowledge again proved advantageous on the par 5, 543-yard 15th hole. In Round One, Cook watched a smoked driver catch roll in the friendly, right-to-left sloped fairway. After missing the green left with a 6-iron from 205 yards, he lifted a wedge to five feet for birdie. For an encore, Cook knocked a wedge 60 yards to four feet below the flagstick.
“A lot of these putts this morning, and even yesterday, I was leaving myself in good spots where it’s maybe right edge, left edge or just outside. And with good pace, they were going in thankfully,” Cook, 23, of Philadelphia, Pa., said. “A lot of it, honestly, was my brother [and caddie Alex]. He helped me a lot. He kept me loose for all 36 holes. A lot of credit to him.”
Menon attributed his performance, in part, to a wise game plan and subsequent adaption. A two-day finish given weather changes meant two distinct conditions: sunny skies, muggy air and sturdy greens Monday, cloudy skies, cooler air and softer turf Tuesday.
“I think out here, you’re going to have a lot of shorter clubs in, so even if you don’t hit some great shots, you take your 35-footer, two putt and move on,” Menon, a LedgeRock Golf Club member, said. “Obviously, it was a little bit strange, having to come back out and play nine more holes today. It took a little bit of getting used to how soft it was out there. Today was definitely a lot different than yesterday. Staying patient was really important.”
Although close in age, Menon and Cook come from different places on the college circuit. The former is a rising junior academically at Stanford University, which is basking in the glow of a NCAA Championship for men’s golf.
“The last two months of school were surreal,” Menon, a redshirt sophomore athletically because of a torn calf suffered three days prior to his freshman year, said. “While sitting on the couch, I’ll randomly think, ‘Wow. We really won a national championship months ago.’ It was really cool. To get to say you’re a national champion doesn’t come too often.”
Cook, conversely, is in his final year of a five-year finance program at Drexel University. He completed his athletic eligibility this past season. Cook is currently working an internship at Penn Mutual Asset Management.
“I’m learning a lot and thankful they let me come back this morning and play,” he said.
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.
|Name, club, score||R1||R2||Total|
|Michael Cook, Philadelphia, Pa.||69||67||136|
|Nate Menon, Wyomissing, Pa.||67||69||136|
|Alternates (in order)|
|*Zach Arsenault, Camden, N.J.||69||68||137|
|*Matt Smith, Yorklyn, Del.||67||70||137|
|Failed to qualify|
|Eric Shea, Canada||66||76||142|
|Chance Watson, Banner Elk, N.C.||68||74||142|
|Zachary Barbin, Elkton, Md.||71||72||143|
|Marty McGuckin, Valley Forge, Pa.||74||70||144|
|Carey Bina, Villanova, Pa.||75||69||144|
|William Jeremiah, Glen Mills, Pa.||74||70||144|
|Ryan Barnett, Bryn Mawr, Pa.||75||70||145|
|Ryan Tall, Collegeville, Pa.||75||71||146|
|Danny Dougherty, Wilmington, Del.||74||72||146|
|Russell Wren, Morgantown, Pa.||72||76||148|
|Charlie Baker, Wayne, Pa.||73||76||149|
|Alex Burris, Greensboro, N.C.||75||75||150|
|James O’Connor, West Chester, Pa.||78||75||153|
|Jack Cooley, Wilmington, Pa.||75||79||154|
|Colin Smith, West Chester, Pa.||76||79||155|
|Nikita Romanov, Wilmington, Del.||80||77||157|
|Kaden Kinard, New Castle, Del.||81||78||159|
|Mark Wachter, Wilmington, Del.||80||82||162|
|Brett Wallace, West Grove, Pa.||85||80||165|
|Jack Cornforth, Summit, N.J.||NS||NS||NS|
|Benjamin Feld, Philadelphia, Pa.||70||WD||WD|
|Evan Brown, Kennett Square, Pa.||72||WD||WD|
|John Updike, Wayne, Pa.||73||WD||WD|
|Maximillian Muller, Fort Washington, Pa.||73||WD||WD|
|Owen Brown, Coatesville, Pa.||74||WD||WD|
|John Lalley, Philadelphia, Pa.||74||WD||WD|
|William Mirams, Stroudsburg, Pa.||74||WD||WD|
|Nick Biesecker, Staunton, Va.||74||WD||WD|
|Lukas Clark, Holland, Pa.||74||WD||WD|
|Ambrose Abbracciamento, Newtown, Pa.||75||WD||WD|
|Joseph Tigani, Hockessin, Del.||75||WD||WD|
|Brendan Gonzalez, Orange, Calif.||75||WD||WD|
|Brian Isztwan, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.||75||WD||WD|
|Jack Melville, Maple Glen, Pa.||75||WD||WD|
|Matt Davis, Newtown Square, Pa.||76||WD||WD|
|Jon Haney, Thomasville, Pa.||76||WD||WD|
|Paul Kovalcheck, Aston, Pa.||76||WD||WD|
|Matthew Bastian, Media, Pa.||77||WD||WD|
|Corey Betham, Norristown, Pa.||77||WD||WD|
|Patrick Isztwan, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.||77||WD||WD|
|Todd Johnson, Lebanon, Ohio||77||WD||WD|
|Brandon Raihl, Wernersville, Pa.||78||WD||WD|
|Gage Wolfle, Sewell, N.J.||78||WD||WD|
|Robert Moratti, Cherry Hill, N.J.||78||WD||WD|
|Steve Skurla, West Chester, Pa.||79||WD||WD|
|Brent Schoeller, Jenkintown, Pa.||80||WD||WD|
|Brian Davis, Glen Mills, Pa.||80||WD||WD|
|David Hurly, Newtown Square, Pa.||82||WD||WD|
|Alec Stern, Bryn Mawr, Pa.||82||WD||WD|
|Cole Kemmerer, Malvern, Pa.||83||WD||WD|
|Jack McCarthy, Landenberg, Pa.||83||WD||WD|
|Brian Sadler, Eldersburg, Md.||84||WD||WD|
|Kyle Geist, Rocky River, Ohio||85||WD||WD|
|Joe Spitaleri, Wilmington, Del.||85||WD||WD|
|Edward Kelly, Ambler, Pa.||86||WD||WD|
|JH Park, Blue Bell, Pa.||90||WD||WD|
|Stephen Barry, Mullica Hill, N.J.||WD||WD||WD|
|Matt Buckley, Lincoln University, Pa.||WD||WD||WD|
|Jordan Claffey, Long Island City, NY||WD||WD||WD|
|Geoffrey Cooper, Erdenheim, Pa.||WD||WD||WD|
|Bryan Keeling, Holland, Pa.||WD||WD||WD|
|Matthew Loeslein, Philadelphia, Pa.||WD||WD||WD|
|Robert Maguire, Pottstown, Pa.||WD||WD||WD|
|Jackson Paradee, Dover, Del.||WD||WD||WD|
|Patrick Simmons, Greenville, Del.||WD||WD||WD|
|Keith Stone, Chelmsford, Mass.||WD||WD||WD|
|Dan Brown, Broomall, Pa.||WD||WD||WD|
|Michael Davis, Philadelphia, Pa.||WD||WD||WD|
|Cole Ekert, Chatham, N.J.||WD||WD||WD|
|Shawn Lavin, Drexel Hill, Pa.||WD||WD||WD|
|Steve Oh, Philadelphia, Pa.||WD||WD||WD|
|Charlie Tate, Greensboro, N.C.||WD||WD||WD|
|Brett Williams, Baltimore, Md.||WD||WD||WD|
|Parker Wine, West Chester, Pa.||WD||WD||WD|
|* — determined in playoff|
|NS — no show; WD — withdrawal|