Alternate No More: Wyman In For U.S. Amateur
Alternate No More: Wyman in U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach
For immediate release: July 27, 2018
Cumberland – It’s been a roller coaster of a week for Jack Wyman both on and off the golf course.
In the waning light on Monday evening, Wyman found himself on the 1st tee of The Ledges GC for the third time that day. Having already played 36 holes in a sectional qualifier to play in the United States Amateur Championship, he found himself tied at 141 (-3) with Massachusetts’ Matthew Cowgill and ready for a playoff for the last of two available spots at The Ledges to advance to the country’s premier amateur golf championship.
Patrick Frodigh, another Massachusetts player and winner of his state amateur two weeks ago, was already in the clubhouse with his ticket punched to the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach after rounds of 68-65 left him eight shots clear of the rest of the field. The qualifier featured 74 players, all vying for only two spots at the iconic California course that will host the U.S. Amateur for the fifth time next month.
In the playoff, Wyman missed the fairway then caught a jumper on his second shot that flew the green long. After a lackluster chip that left him little chance to save par, the stage was set and Cowgill was able to two-putt for par and grab the second spot out of The Ledges. Wyman was left with the less-than-ideal distinction of first alternate, the one player in the field who was closer than all but two from advancing. “I was devastated,” Wyman admitted.
Still reeling from his close call on Monday, things changed quickly on Thursday morning when Wyman saw a call coming in from Alex Viola. Both Wyman and Viola are alumni of Endicott College, but it still didn’t make sense why Viola would be calling. It then dawned on him that Viola was a former two-year P.J. Boatwright intern with the Maine State Golf Association who now worked for the USGA, the governing body in charge of running the U.S. Amateur.
“It was pretty cool,” Wyman said. “I saw Alex’s name, and I knew he worked for the USGA. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but figured why else would he be calling?”
The call was the one that Wyman had hoped for but never really expected. After all, who would withdraw from the U.S. Amateur when it’s at Pebble Beach of all places? But some player somewhere in the country did indeed withdraw, which opened the door for Wyman.
At The Ledges qualifier there were 74 players competing for two spots, whereas some other qualifiers around the country in past weeks had around 80 players competing for three spots. This made The Ledges qualifier more difficult to advance through, which elevated Wyman’s status among other first alternates because he possibly could have gotten in at a different venue with a similar field size.
“Jack’s name came up at the office today,” said Viola on the phone from the USGA office in New Jersey. “I asked if I could make the call to Maine.” He first congratulated Wyman on winning the Maine Amateur for the second straight year two weeks ago, then broke the news to him about the opening. There wasn’t much hesitation from the lefty from Portland CC, who quickly accepted.
Three days removed from the heartbreak of almost advancing to his first U.S. Amateur, Wyman was overcome with happiness and a chance to head to the West Coast to play in the biggest event of his life.
Wyman will join Will Kannegieser (Martindale CC) as the only Mainers in the field. Kannegieser was the medalist at a different qualifier last week at Taconic GC in Williamstown, MA.
The 118th U.S. Amateur will be played August 13-19 at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course.