Beaufort News

10 Who Can Win The Players Amateur

The list of champions already includes household names on the PGA Tour such as Bill Haas, Camilo Villegas and Rickie Fowler. The roster of alumni who weren't able to break through to the top of some of the loaded fields included Lucas Glover, Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney.

Many of the next generation of pro golfers will tee it up starting today for the 12th annual Players Amateur on Belfair Golf Club's West Course. The field of 75 players includes some of the top collegiate players in the country -- recently crowned NCAA champion John Peterson of LSU among them -- and plenty of international talent, including the usual Australian contingent.

But it doesn't include any past champions, so who will be the next to add his name to the impressive list of Players Amateur champs?

10 Who Can Win The Players Amateur

  • Byeong-Hun An: The 19-year-old Korean had his biggest moment two years ago, when he won the U.S. Amateur title at 17. He had a good, but not great, season at the University of California, but he has the game to play his way into his second Heritage (he tied for 59th in 2010).
  • Blayne Barber: An All-American in his junior season at Auburn, Barber is sixth in the Scratch Players Amateur Rankings, making him the highest-ranked player in the field by that metric. He took third at the Northeast Amateur last month and tied for fourth here last year, so he's close to breaking through for a big amateur win.
  • Brooks Koepka: Coming off a tie for fourth at last week's Dogwood Invitational, Koepka is playing well. He also knows his way around Belfair, as evidenced by his tie for fourth last year, so keep an eye on the Florida State senior.
  • Corbin Mills: You would have to consider the rising junior from Clemson one of the hottest players in the field by virtue of his win at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship last week in Oregon. He liked the course last year, and he's putting much better than he was a year ago.
  • John Peterson: A pro career would seem to be nearing on the horizon for the recent LSU graduate who won the NCAA individual title last month and the Jones Cup in February, but a Players Amateur title would boost his resume for this year's Walker Cup team and might prolong his amateur career by a couple of months.
  • Matthew Stieger: It's always tough to get a read on the Australian players who come over for the summer, but at No. 9 in the Scratch Players rankings, Stieger is the highest-rated Aussie in the field. He already has won three wins Down Under this year at the Western Australian Amateur, the Australian Amateur and the Tasmanian Open.
  • Curtis Thompson: Call this a dark horse pick, if you must. Thompson is only 18 and preparing to launch his collegiate career at LSU next season, so he hardly has a footprint in the amateur golf world. But he tied for sixth here two years ago and showed tremendous confidence and poise in doing so.
  • Arnond Vongvanij: The reigning Southeastern Conference player of the year and a first-team All-American as a senior at Florida, Vongvanij has already had a solid 2011 campaign. With a tie for fifth at the Northeast Amateur under his belt, he's certainly a contender to add a Players Amateur title to his resume.
  • James White: The rising senior at Georgia Tech seems like the safest pick to win this week. He tied for second here last year, so he knows his way around Belfair. He's eighth in the Scratch Players rankings, and he already has top-10s at the Sunnehanna Amateur (tied for eighth) and the Northeast Amateur (second) this summer.
  • Andrew Yun: The 2008 Junior Heritage champion was a five-time AJGA All-American as a junior, and that success is already carrying over into his amateur career. The 19-year-old rising sophomore at Stanford won the Dogwood Invitational last year and tied for eighth at last year's Players Amateur. He's still looking for a signature win for 2011, and it could come this week.

    Tee times for today's first round of the Players Amateur at Belfair Golf Club.

    7:00 a.m.: Conrad Ray, Stanford; Cody Proveaux, Leesville

    7:10 a.m.: Cameron Smith, Brisbane, Australia; Justin Thomas, Goshen, Ky.

    7:20 a.m.: Julio Vegas, Maturin, Venezuela; Scott Strohmeyer, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.

    7:30 a.m.: John Peterson, Ft. Worth, Texas; Arnond Vongvanij, University of Florida

    7:40 a.m.: Max Homa, University of California; Tim Hart, Brisbane, Australia

    7:50 a.m.: Jack Fields, Southern Pines, N.C.; Ryan McCarthy, Burnie, Australia

    8:00 a.m.: Tarquin Macmanus, Cairns, Australia; Patrick Rodgers, Avon, Ind.

    8:10 a.m.: Crawford Reeves, Clemson University; Harold Varner, Gastonia, N.C.

    8:20 a.m.: Hunter Hamrick, Univeristy of Alabama; Richy Werenski, Georgia Tech

    8:30 a.m.: Cory Whitsett, Houston, Texas; Jordan Russell, Texas A&M

    8:40 a.m.: Brett Drewitt, Inverell, Australia; Wesley Bryan, Chapin

    8:50 a.m.: Patrick Grimes, Palo Alton, Calif.; Coley Davis, Bluffton

    9:00 a.m.: Eric Chun, Northwestern University; Tommy Mou, Bradenton, Fla.

    9:10 a.m.: Brad Gehl, Oklahoma State University; Michael Cromie, University of Georgia

    9:20 a.m.: Morgan Hill, Florida Atlantic University; Michael Johnson, Hoover, Ala.

    9:30 a.m.: Matthew Nesmith, North Augusta; T.J. Mitchell, University of Georgia

    9:40 a.m.: Derek Chang, Augusta State University; Matt Nagy, Kennesaw State University

    9:50 a.m.: Drew Ernst, Seneca; Kramer Hickok, University of Texas

    10:00 a.m.: Todd White, Moore; Rick LaRose, Tucson, Ariz.

    10:10 a.m.: Ethan Tracy, Hillard, Ohio; Jeffrey Kang, Southern California

    10:20 a.m.: David Erdy, Indiana University; Curtis Thompson, LSU

    10:30 a.m.: John Voetsch, New Vernon, N.J.; Trey Delgreco, Vanderbilt University

    10:40 a.m.: Blayne Barber, Lake City, Fla.; James White, Georgia Tech

    10:50 a.m.: Matthew Stieger, Narrabri, Australia; Ben Campbell, Masterton, New Zealand

    11:00 a.m.: Corbin Mills, Clemson University; Andrew Yun, Chandler, Ariz.

    11:10 a.m.: Brooks Koepka, Florida State University; Byeong-Hun An, Seoul, Korea

    11:20 a.m.: Cameron Peck, Olympia, Wash.; Kalem Richardson, Launceston, Australia

    11:30 a.m.: Conrad Shindler, Texas A&M; Anthony Paolucci, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

    11:40 a.m.: Tucker Wadkins, Dallas, Texas; Jon Pannone, Bluffton

    11:50 a.m.: Franklin Dolan, Wake Forest University; Nathan Holman, Melbourne, Australia

    12:00 p.m.: Brinson Paolini, Duke University; Michael Hebert, Auburn University

    12:10 p.m.: James Rim, University of Toronto; Bo Andrews, Georgia Tech

    12:20 p.m.: Drew Czuchry, Auburn, Ga.; Michael McGowan, UNC-Chapel Hill

    12:30 p.m.: Case Cochran, Texas A&M; Christopher Lane, USC Beaufort

    12:40 p.m.: Brett Patterson, Middle Tennessee State; Chase Parker, University of Kentucky

    12:50 p.m.: Austin Reeves, Furman University; Brant Peaper, Indiana University

    1:00 p.m.: Dominic Bozzelli, Auburn University; Max Scodro, University of Notre Dame; Todd Sinnott, Essendon, Australia