MALVERN, Pa. — The vibes kept flowing. The red numbers kept falling. And now, good friends David Kim and R.J. Wren will look to keep the good golf going on a national stage.
The duo advanced in U.S. Amateur Qualifying administered by GAP at Applebrook Golf Club (par 70, 6,665 yards) Monday. Kim earned medalist honors by carding a 4-under-par 136 (66-70). Playing in the same group, Wren finished a shot back with rounds of 67 and 70.
The 122nd U.S. Amateur will take place Aug. 15-21 at The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.
“Watching him play well helped me out for sure,” Kim, 23, of Dresher, Pa., said. “We were just feeding off each other. He’s a good friend, so the vibes were right in the group today. It made it nice and relaxed. When he’s making putts, you’ve got to root for him. It’s cool to go [to the U.S. Amateur] with him.”
“We kind of just bounced off each other. We were both hitting the ball really well from tee to green,” Wren, 24, of Morgantown, Pa., added. “He played great. The putter was working for both of us. We didn’t really have that many tough par looks throughout the day. If we were on the green, then we were either going for birdie or had a decent two-putt chance to get par and move on to the next hole. It was just really steady.”
The Kim-Wren pairing remained atop the leaderboard for most of the day. Kim led Wren by a stroke after 18 holes. He navigated Applebrook sans bogey in the morning.
The LuLu Country Club member carded back-to-back birdies on Nos. 2 (par 4, 365 yards) and 3 (par 4, 308 yards): On the former, he buttered a sand wedge 106 yards to 20 feet. Kim two putted on the latter after driving the green. He birdied the slight dogleg right, 369-yard 12th hole by hitting a soft pitching wedge 124 yards to four feet. Kim closed in style. His 9-iron from 149 yards on No. 18 (par 4, 451 yards) peeled off the green’s backstop and drifted to four feet. Kim made good on the birdie putt.
Wren moved to 4 under thanks to back-to-back birdies on Nos. 16 (par 5, 575 yards) and 17 (par 3, 167 yards). A powerful 1-iron from 238 yards on the former led to a two-putt circumstance from 40 feet. His 7-iron on the 17th hole stopped three feet from the cup. The Honeybrook Golf Club member relinquished a stroke on the 18th hole, where his 9-iron from 152 yards perched beyond the green. He missed an eight-footer to save par.
The afternoon offered more of the same smiles and shotmaking from both Kim and Wren. More pressure as the tournament dwindled, too.
“The second round I was more nervous. I was just trying to keep it together,” Kim, who works in purchasing for Vintage Imports, a wine importer and distributor, said. “There were birdies out there if I just hit good shots. After the Philadelphia Open [last week at Philadelphia Cricket Club], I came in with some confidence. I was hitting it well there on a pretty tough golf course. I thought I could put up two good rounds here.”
Starting on the back nine, Kim opened with a birdie on No. 10 (par 5, 532 yards), where he fired a 3-iron 239 yards to the back of the green and two putted. It took 21 holes for a bogey to arrive. Kim totaled three putts on No. 13 (par 4, 453 yards) after pulling a wedge long left. Credit Andrew Kiddie, playing partner John Stevenson’s caddie, for saving Kim from disaster on No. 18. Kim’s drive found the fescue right. The search continued until Kiddie found Kim’s golf ball at the witching hour. Kim hacked out of a covered lie, hit a wedge 69 yards to 20 feet and missed the par putt.
As a result, Wren leapt Kim through the spell of déjà vu. He made a 30-footer for birdie on No. 17 and swept in a two-footer on No. 18 following a sand wedge from 115 yards. While Wren walked away from No. 1 (par 4, 478 yards) with a par after finding the fescue, Kim couldn’t say the same. His 5-iron approach plummeted into the penalty area short of the green. Two extrication attempts translated into an untimely double bogey.
But hey, Wren birdied Nos. 17 and 18 both times. Why couldn’t his competitive compatriot do something similar?
“[My caddie] Wills (Montgomery) reminded me that I birdied Nos. 2 and 3 in the morning. ‘Why don’t you do it again?’ I guess you’re right,” Kim, who graduated from La Salle University a year ago, said.
He did it again. Kim lifted a sand wedge 200 yards to five feet on No. 2. He again drove the green on No. 3 and logged two putts for birdie. Wren, too, converted birdies in that stretch: a wedge 70 yards to two feet on the former, a 3-wood to 25 feet for a two-putt on the latter. He moved to 6 under as a result, but Wren missed a three-footer for par on No. 4 (par 4, 418 yards).
“The nerves got me,” Wren, who works in customer support for BlueGolf, said.
The par 5, 580-yard No. 8 nearly torpedoed qualifying prospects for both Wren and Kim. The former made a double bogey.
“I tried to hit a 5-iron up the right side and just turned it over a little too much. I couldn’t find my ball, so a lost ball there,” Wren said.
Kim, for his part, almost lost a golf ball, too. He blocked a 3-wood into the fescue. Kim, however, found it, played onto the green and two putted for a safe par. Nerves somewhat tempered, adrenaline surfaced on No. 9 (par 3, 146 yards). Kim spun a hard gap wedge to a foot. A tap-in birdie secured his first U.S. Amateur appearance.
“I came in with no expectations today. I just knew I was playing two rounds at an awesome golf course,” Kim said. “I love Applebrook. It sets up well for my game. It was worth the vacation day I guess.”
Worth it for Wren, too. He is also heading to his first U.S. Amateur. Once it became official, Wren, invitation in hand, walked over to Kim and exchanged a hearty bro-hug. “Let’s go” filled the conversation.
“It was good playing with somebody who I knew and was comfortable playing with. I definitely thought it helped,” Wren, a University of Delaware alum, said.
Cameron Deiuliis carded his first career hole-in-one during Monday’s opening round. The Makefield Highlands Golf Club member aced No. 9 (par 3, 146 yards) with a pitching wedge. “That was sick dude. That just didn’t happen,” Deiuliis, 20, of Highland, Md., said afterward. Deiuliis is a rising junior at Gettysburg College, where he is a dual major in economics and business … Play was suspended at 3:29 p.m. due to heavy rain. It resumed at 3:51 p.m.
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 330 Member Clubs and 90,000 individual members are spread across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
|Name, city, state||Rd1-Rd2-Total|
|David Kim, Dresher, Pa.||66-70-136|
|R.J. Wren, Morgantown, Pa.||67-70-137|
|Alternates (in order)|
|*Prescott Butler, Old Westbury, N.Y.||70-68-138|
|*Andy Butler, Philadelphia, Pa.||68-70-138|
|Failed to qualify|
|Jake McGlone, Charlotte, N.C.||73-66-139|
|Brendan Bacskai, Philadelphia, Pa.||68-72-140|
|Dan Walters, Winston-Salem, N.C.||71-69-140|
|Hayes Brown, Charlotte, N.C.||69-73-142|
|Michael Cook, Berwyn, Pa.||74-68-142|
|Robert Olseski, Wayne, Pa.||74-68-142|
|Kevin Scherr, Nazareth, Pa.||69-74-143|
|Gage Wolfle, Sewell, N.J.||70-73-143|
|Cole Berman, Bryn Mawr, Pa.||72-72-144|
|Thomas Christensen, Coral Springs, Fla.||74-70-144|
|David Hurly, Newtown Square, Pa.||71-73-144|
|Vince Kwon, Marlton, N.J.||69-75-144|
|Brock Fassnacht, Lititz, Pa.||71-74-145|
|Stephen Barry, Mullica Hill, N.J.||75-71-146|
|Ryan Felpel, Lancaster, Pa.||73-73-146|
|Matt Graeff, Blue Bell, Pa.||70-76-146|
|Kristof Kopecky, Garnet Valley, Pa.||76-70-146|
|Christopher Lawler, Philadelphia, Pa.||74-72-146|
|Sebastien Levasseur, Cincinnati, Ohio||73-73-146|
|Dan Bernard, Philadelphia, Pa.||74-73-147|
|Owen Elliott, Cambridge, Mass.||72-75-147|
|Felix Antoine Levasseur, Canada||75-72-147|
|Mark Jackson, West Chester, Pa.||72-76-148|
|Brock Kovach, Wyomissing, Pa.||79-69-148|
|Henry Poston, Los Alamos, N.M.||74-74-148|
|Jason Sigler, Atlanta, Ga.||74-74-148|
|Nelson Hargrove, Haverford, Pa.||76-73-149|
|Avery Papalia, Marlton, N.J.||77-72-149|
|John Olsen, Boalsburg, Pa.||71-79-150|
|J.T. Spina, Schwenksville, Pa.||75-75-150|
|Mark Benevento, Ocean City, N.J.||78-73-151|
|Kevin Eberly, Malvern, Pa.||78-73-151|
|Allan Phillips, Tucson, Ariz.||75-76-151|
|Rye Stinson, Columbia, Md.||77-74-151|
|Dan Arison, King of Prussia, Pa.||76-76-152|
|John Stevenson, Ambler, Pa.||75-77-152|
|Stewart Tankersley, Montgomery, Ala.||71-81-152|
|Keller Mulhern, Exton, Pa.||75-78-153|
|Greg Stebbins, Hoboken, N.J.||76-77-153|
|Cameron Deiuliis, Highland, Md.||79-77-156|
|Sean Coary, Collegeville, Pa.||73-85-158|
|Sean Pass, Ithaca, N.Y.||77-81-158|
|Hunter Stetson, Newtown Square, Pa.||71-87-158|
|Christian Haldeman, Center Valley, Pa.||83-76-159|
|Kaden Kinard, New Castle, Del.||75-84-159|
|Joseph Rueter, Philadelphia, Pa.||86-73-159|
|Joseph Polidoro, Glassboro, N.J.||81-79-160|
|P.J. Schulte, Middle Township, N.J.||77-83-160|
|Jason Mowry, Scranton, Pa.||79-82-161|
|Austin Schreffler, Dillsburg, Pa.||81-80-161|
|Kyle Williams, Clarks Summit, Pa.||79-82-161|
|Todd Baron, Mullica Hill, N.J.||80-82-162|
|Ryan McDevitt, Philadelphia, Pa.||84-79-163|
|Travis Robertson, Singer Island, Fla.||84-82-166|
|Jake Maddaloni, Newtown Square, Pa.||81-87-168|
|Daniel Tennekoon, Bryn Mawr, Pa.||86-83-169|
|Brian Walsh, Wayne, Pa.||79-91-170|
|Tom Maguire, Hopewell, N.J.||84-91-175|
|Joshua Gallagher, Wilmington, Del.||NS-NS-NS|
|Calen Sanderson, Newtown, Pa.||NS-NS-NS|
|Ryan Carroll, Philadelphia, Pa.||80-WD-WD|
|Jack Hamilton, Canada||72-WD-WD|
|Ryan Karstetter, State College, Pa.||89-WD-WD|
|Michael Lenartowicz, Canton, Ohio||88-WD-WD|
|Brenan McAllister, Salisbury, Md.||76-WD-WD|
|Kevin O’Brien, Philadelphia, Pa.||WD-WD-WD|
|Thomas Petrocelli, Quogue, N.Y.||86-WD-WD|
|David Segot, Oyster Bay, N.Y.||74-WD-WD|
|Jack Stamato, Severna Park, Md.||81-WD-WD|
|* – determined in playoff|
|NS – no show; WD – withdrawal|
August 25, 2023
March 29, 2023
December 5, 2023
December 4, 2023
December 1, 2023
November 30, 2023
November 27, 2023
November 22, 2023
November 21, 2023
November 21, 2023
November 17, 2023
November 17, 2023
November 15, 2023
November 14, 2023
November 9, 2023
November 9, 2023
November 7, 2023
October 30, 2023
October 30, 2023
October 26, 2023
October 25, 2023