Jackson, Goetz, Knapp Among Five Local U.S. Amateur Qualifiers
The 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying event at Sunnehanna Country Club came to a close on Wednesday, with five players punching their tickets to the most prestigious tournament in amateur golf.
This year’s championship will take place just outside of Pittsburgh, at storied Oakmont Country Club, on Aug. 9-15. The stroke play portion will be co-hosted by Oakmont and Longue Vue Club in Verona, with the entire match-play championship bracket played at Oakmont.
Palmer Jackson – Murrysville, Pa.
Jackson topped the leaderboard as the low scorer for the tournament at three-under par. He grinded out a 1-over 71 on Wednesday, but a bogey-free 66 first round gave him enough of a cushion.
Experience certainly didn’t hurt Jackson at this course, finishing fourth at the Sunnehanna Amateur just a few weeks ago. He must’ve gotten a hang of the short par-4 13th, birdieing the hole in his final two rounds at the Sunnehanna Am, then recording an eagle there on Tuesday.
A rising junior at Notre Dame, Jackson also qualified for the 2020 U.S. Amateur, where he missed the cut after shooting 81 and 75 in the stroke-play portion.
Jimmy Meyers – Wexford, Pa.
Unlike Jackson, Meyers didn’t play his best golf on the first day of competition. He shot 71 on Tuesday, but bounced back with a convincing 67 to bump himself into a tie for second. Birdies on the first two holes set the tone for the clutch performance.
This will be the Penn State golfer’s first appearance in the U.S. Amateur. Meyers finished ninth at last year’s Pennsylvania Amateur Championship, and will have lots of course knowledge when he gets to Oakmont. The venue served as his home course in high school, and he won the WPIAL individual title there in 2018.
Mark Goetz – Greensburg, Pa.
Goetz flipped Meyers’ scores, shooting 67 on Monday and 71 in the second round. The low-scorer honor looked like his for the taking late on Tuesday, but Goetz played his last seven holes in 3 over par, dropping him to a tie for second.
In his senior season at West Virginia, Goetz became the program’s first ever All-American this year. The Greensburg native will play in his second U.S. Amateur, plus he’s has had success at Oakmont, finishing fourth there at last year’s Pennsylvania Open.
Grant Martens – San Diego, Calif.
Now we get to the veterans of the bunch. Martens, who played his college golf at Cal Poly, grew up in Pittsburgh before his collegiate career moved him out west. A 2008 graduate of North Allegheny High School, Martens finished fifth at WPIALs and reached the PIAA Championships.
If you’re looking to watch someone hit bombs at Oakmont, Martens is your man. The former Mustang proves there’s more to power than size, winning the 2013 Long Drive Championship at the Industry Cup, despite weighing little more than 150 pounds. His swing speed helped propel him to a T-2 finish at Sunnehanna this week, nabbing an eagle on the par 5 11th.
Sean Knapp – Oakmont, Pa.
Far and away the oldest member of this qualifying group, Knapp has become the area’s most iconic face of golf. A graduate of Plum High School, Knapp went to IUP before becoming the winningest golfer in Western Pennsylvania golf history, with over 40 tournament trophies.
Knapp has been named the Western Pennsylvania player of the year a record 13 times, including nine straight years from 1994-2002. He has played in more than 15 U.S. Amateurs, falling to Tiger Woods in the 1995 tournament’s Round of 16, and making it to the quarterfinals in 1998.
After decades of success in USGA championships, Knapp finally claimed a trophy in 2017 on his 43rd attempt, thanks to a win at the U.S. Senior Amateur.
In addition to these five qualifiers, two players earned alternate spots at Sunnehanna on Wednesday: Erik Bertrand and Jay Whitby. Tied at even par, Bertrand won a playoff to take the 1st alternate spot, with Whitby holding the 2nd.