Amateur Hour at Brookline

Professionals have dominated the U.S. Open for decades, but don’t overlook the 10 accomplished collegians who played their way into the field. These guys are good 
By Jordan Perez

It takes a handicap index of 1.4 or better for an amateur to enter the U.S. Open. Countless amateurs submitted entries with the dream of teeing it up this week at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. For most, it required getting through two stages — an 18-hole local qualifier and a 36-hole finale. Here are the 10 amateurs who made it through and into the 156-man field. Jack Nicklaus had a back-nine lead in 1960, and Marty Fleckman (1967) and Jim Simons (1971) held the 54-hole lead, but the last amateur to win the U.S. Open: Johnny Goodman in 1933.

Sam Bennett

Age: 22

College: Texas A&M

WAGR ranking: 5

The skinny: Bennett, a fifth-year collegian, is playing in his first major after getting through in Columbus, Ohio, against a field loaded with PGA Tour players. He did it in style, firing an afternoon 6-under 66 on the strength of a back nine that featured five birdies. With 13 spots available, he tied for fifth with a 135 total. “Other than winning my first college event, coming down the stretch with the U.S. Open on the line was the most nervous I have ever been on the course,” he says.

Fred Biondi

Age: 21

College: Florida

WAGR ranking: 49

The skinny: Don’t let his ranking fool you; Biondi’s journey has been anything but easy. He left Brazil as a teenager to make his dream of golf happen. After struggling to achieve better than a T15 in his first two years at Florida, he had a breakthrough as a junior. Gators coach JC Deacon says Biondi has “always had the goods,” but he has taken his game to new heights with a newfound conviction. Biondi grabbed the fourth and final spot at Admiral’s Cove in Florida.

Adrien Dumont de Chassart

Age: 22

College: Illinois

WAGR ranking: 32

The skinny: Belgium’s highest-ranked amateur has had a profound impact on the college scene. The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year advanced out of Springfield, Ohio, and he will use Brookline to kick off his amateur summer before he embarks on his Covid year back at Illinois.

Ben Lorenz

Ben Lorenz

Age: 20

College: Oklahoma

WAGR ranking: 490

The skinny: The Arizona native made the trip to the qualifier in Bend, Ore., and after a 1-under morning round, he fired a bogey-free, 5-under 67, then won a 2-for-1 playoff for the third and final spot. The No. 1 player in his graduating class at Arizona, he followed his older brother, Blake, to Norman.

Caleb Manuel

Age: 20

College: UConn

WAGR ranking: 800

The skinny: You wouldn’t expect a guy who shared medalist honors at a U.S. Open qualifier to fly under the recruiting radar, but Manuel did just that. He didn’t play in many high-level amateur events as a junior, but he has put UConn on the map as the team’s top scorer.

Maxwell Moldovan

Age: 20

College: Ohio State

WAGR ranking: 52

The skinny: Feeling right at home, the Buckeye tied for third in Springfield, shooting 66-69 to secure his spot. He won three times as a sophomore, and his world amateur ranking was high enough that he was exempt into final qualifying.

William Mouw

Age: 21

College: Pepperdine

WAGR ranking: 58

The skinny: No stranger to the biggest stages, Mouw last year was part of Pepperdine’s first national title team in 24 years and a member of the victorious U.S. Walker Cup team. He medaled at the Ocean Course at the Olympic Club qualifier, posting a 67-63 to win by five. It’s been a big year already for Mouw, who recently got engaged. 

Charlie Reiter

Charlie Reiter

Age: 22

College: San Diego

WAGR ranking: 286

The skinny: Reiter wrapped up his college career and got right to work, grabbing the second spot behind Mouw at Olympic. His college career started at USC before he landed at San Diego, where he led the Toreros to their first NCAA championship appearance in a decade. Now he’ll look to follow in the footsteps of his dad, Mike, who had his own pro career on the mini-tours.

Michael Thorbjornsen

Age: 20

College: Stanford

WAGR ranking: 24

The skinny: Thor stormed onto the amateur golf scene last summer when he won the Massachusetts Amateur and the prestigious Western Amateur. Known for his length, the rising junior survived an 8-for-3 playoff in New York to advance.

Travis Vick

Age: 22

College: Texas

WAGR ranking: 26

The skinny: What a run the kid with the bucket hat had. On June 1, he holed the putt that gave the Longhorns their first national title in a decade. That came nine days after he got through the Dallas qualifier, shooting 68-65 to become the only amateur to advance. (It was a bit of redemption for Vick, who was DQ’d during qualifying last year for having an extra club in his bag.) Vick has had success on the USGA scene; he was the medalist at the 2016 Junior Amateur, and he advanced to the semifinals of the 2021 U.S. Amateur at Oakmont.

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