Low-amateur race in US Open heats up

June 16, 2018

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) The weekend is when it counts.

Only three amateurs at the U.S. Open advanced from the first two rounds; 17 were sent packing. Will Grimmer cleared the 8-over-par cut by three strokes. Luis Gagne and Matt Parziale advanced by one.

''It was a completely different ballgame than the last two days,'' Grimmer said of Saturday's round. ''Guys were chanting out all sorts of fun stuff, which was great. It was a new experience for me.''

This is Grimmer's second U.S. Open. The Ohio State senior-to-be played in 2014 as a 17-year-old but didn't make the cut. He sits at 13 over heading into Sunday.

Parziale, a firefighter from Brockton, Massachusetts, leads the amateurs at 11 over. Gagne, a soon-to-be senior at LSU, is 12 over.

''Bottom line is we're in our own little tournament within a tournament,'' Grimmer said, ''and I'm two strokes away from where I need to be.''

Whoever wins the low-amateur race receives a medal and is honored at the closing ceremony. All three also are assured of being in the next two U.S. Amateurs as long as they don't turn pro.

Saturday's showing sent Grimmer to the back of his little pack. He shot a 73-72 in the first two days, which put him ahead of Parziale and Gagne by two strokes. Then he finished with a 78 in the third round.

''Obviously it's a little bit more disappointing,'' Grimmer said. ''But looking at what guys have shot today and what guys are shooting right now, I can't really complain too much. It got really, really difficult. I was 1 under through six, just kind of playing and chugging, and the greens started getting really, really firm, and kind of had a little bit of that crustiness to it.''

In the first two rounds, Grimmer didn't have any double bogeys. He had three in the third.

Parziale and Gagne scored a 74 and 75, respectively. Gagne's score has gotten a stroke worse in each round. Parziale improved from Day 1 to Day 2 by a shot, then replicated his original mark.

Although he's on top of the amateur board, Parziale wasn't happy with his closing holes. He had a double bogey on No. 16 and then a bogey on No. 18.

''I've played a lot of bad rounds in my life,'' he said. ''I know I'll be ready to go tomorrow. Just after lunch, it will be old news. Right now, it just stinks.''

At least Parziale has a tomorrow.

Ryan Lumsden was one of the many amateurs who didn't make Friday night's cut. The Northwestern rising senior carded 18 over in the first two days of competition at the par-70 course. He was ready to call it a week until his phone rang.

''The USGA called me up last night at about 8 o'clock and said, `Do you want to have another go at it?''' Lumsden said of being offered the chance to be a marker for Tim Wilkinson in the first group off the tee Saturday. ''I just couldn't have been more excited for it and just said yes instantly. It was such an amazing experience. I loved the first two days. Sadly, I didn't play well enough to earn it myself, but to be given another chance, it was brilliant.''

He didn't keep official score but knows he played a lot better and more relaxed. It was a good learning experience. And he got a taste of championship weekend.

There have been only five amateurs in U.S. Open history to take home the overall title. John Goodman was the last to win in 1933.

Just to have the opportunity to compete for the trophy, though, is enough.

''It's a thrill of a lifetime to be out here on Saturday and Sunday,'' Grimmer said, ''especially as an amateur.''

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