NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

August 14, 2013

Foreign players lead after 2 rounds of US Amateur

BROOKLINE (AP) — Ever since local caddie Francis Ouimet won the 1913 U.S. Open and sent British stars Ted Ray and Harry Vardon home empty-handed, The Country Club has not been kind to foreign golfers.

Two more Opens have been held here, and each was won by an American. Same with the two Walker Cups, three Women’s Amateurs and five U.S. Amateurs at The Country Club — not to mention the 1999 Ryder Cup, in which the U.S. team rallied on the final day to beat Europe.

But there was Englishman Neil Raymond atop the leaderboard at the 113th U.S. Amateur yesterday after the completion of two rounds of stroke play, tied at 6-under par with Australia’s Brady Watt. They are followed three strokes back by another Australian, another Englishman and a Canadian.

“It would be huge. It would be a great accomplishment for any of the English guys to win,” said Raymond, one of five from his country to reach the 64-man match play round. “To have an opportunity to be a part of a group of guys doing great stuff around the world, it’s showing that we really do mean business.”

The Amateur is being played at The Country Club on the 100th anniversary of Ouimet’s playoff victory over Vardon and Ray — an event that is credited with popularizing the sport in the United States and helping it expand from its traditional domain of wealthy Europeans. A century later, it is the Europeans who are hoping to make history.

No English golfer has won the U.S. Amateur since Harold Hilton in 1911. Korea’s Byeong-Hun An, who won in 2008, was the last non-American winner.

“You look at the world rankings and we’ve got quite a strong field, a lot of English guys in the top 20, 25,” said Matt Fitzpatrick, an Englishman who is planning to attend Northwestern this fall. “It’s pleasing, and hopefully there might be an English winner.”

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