Before he goes back for his senior year at Kansas State, Kyle Weldon will play in his second U.S. Amateur.
Weldon qualified for the nation’s top amateur tournament when he qualified at Louisville, Ky. Weldon, a Parkway South graduate, shot 8 under with rounds of 69 and 67 in the 36-hole day. He finished second.
“This has been an awesome summer,” Weldon said. “I can’t complain about anything. I feel like I’m playing some of my best golf right now. This summer has just been … I think honestly that I’ve only played one bad round. That was in the second round of the Public Links when I shot a 79. I haven’t had a score over 75 otherwise. This was been my best summer. It’s been an awesome summer and I’ve got nothing to complain about.”
Weldon just finished in a tie for fourth in the rain-shortened Trans-Mississippi Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. Weldon shot a 1-under 139.
“That’s one of the biggest tournaments I’ve played in,” Weldon said. “With the exception of the U.S. Amateur and some Big 12 tournaments, that field was even stronger. There were so many good players and field was so deep. I’m happy to come out of it with a top-5 finish. It’s one of those moments where you’re competing with the best players and you’re playing right there with them. I was right there in the hunt with all the big boys.”
The U.S. Amateur will be his fourth USGA event. He played in the U.S. Am two years ago at Cherry Hills Country Club near Denver. Weldon shot 74-73 at Cherry Hills and missed the cut by four strokes.
“I was young back then,” Weldon said. “I was still giving away some easy strokes. Nowadays, I might not give them up.”
He used that tournament to drive him to become a more competitive player.
“That put it all in perspective a little bit for me,” Weldon said. “I built on that.”
Indeed. He was won two Metropolitan Amateur titles. He also has played in two U.S. Amateur Public Links. The one he played in earlier this summer was the final one as the USGA has discontinued it for another event — a Four Ball championship that requires two-man teams.
“Last year being in the Public Links and making the cut and winning a match kind of set my confidence up a little bit,” Weldon said. “This year, I started off great with a 71 but the second day was just one of those days. It was an off day. I hadn’t had one of them all summer. I’m glad my off day was not that day in Louisville.
“I really wanted to get back to play in the U.S. Amateur. But it was still pretty good to play in the last Public Links. It was a cool experience knowing I was part of the last tournament.
Now, he’s ready for the U.S. Am, which begins Monday (Aug. 11) and runs through Aug. 1 7 at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga. Golf’s best amateurs will battle to determine the national champion. This will be the 114th U.S. Amateur Championship. The U.S. Amateur Championship is the oldest golf championship in America, one day older than the U.S. Open.
Throughout its history, the U.S. Amateur has been the most coveted of all amateur titles. Many of the great names of professional golf, such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gene Littler, Lanny Wadkins, Craig Stadler, Jerry Pate, Mark O’Meara, Hal Sutton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, grace the Havemeyer Trophy.
Atlanta Athletic Club will be set up at 7,490/7,428 yards and will play to a par of 35-36–71. The Highlands Course will host all match-play rounds. The companion stroke-play qualifying course, Atlanta Athletic Club’s Riverside Course will be set up at 7,381 yards and will play to a par of 36-36–72. Based on the course setup for the championship, the USGA course rating for the Highlands Course at Atlanta A.C. is 77.2 and its slope rating is 153. The course rating for the Riverside Course is 76.8 and its slope rating is 143.
There will be two rounds of stroke play that will narrow the field from 312 to 64 players. Those 64 will compete shot for shot in match play until two golfers remain. The two finalists will meet in a 36-hole showdown to determine the 2014 winner.
Weldon will tee off at 7:30 a.m. CDT Monday at at 12:25 p.m. CDT Tuesday. He will be playing with Derek Bard, of New Hartford, N.Y.; and Matthew Bassler, of Baltimore, Md.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in that thing,” Weldon said. “I can use my experience to my advantage. I’m more now of the mindset of trying to win the tournament instead of being on a cool stage and not worrying about shooting an 80.”
He knows it’s a privilege to earn a spot in a USGA event.
“I’m pretty lucky,” Weldon said. “I’ve had four USGA tournaments in the past three summers. There’s a lot of guys who’d love to be in my shoes. I look back at all the hard work I’ve put in to get here.”
After that, it’s back to school for the Des Peres native. He has some new plans for his time remaining at Kansas State.
“I’m going to redshirt this year,” Weldon said. “I have two years of school left. They have hired a new coach as well at school. I’m going to use this year to buckle down on the school work and working hard on my game.
“I’m studying civil engineering. I think this will work out real well.”
Then, Weldon plans to turn professional.
“I honestly think if I get two very solid years under my belt, I’ll be ready to turn professional,” Weldon said. “Hopefully, I’ll start doing some good things and it will work out.”