The U.S. Amateur is the most prestigious event in American amateur golf with the winner earning spots in three of golf’s four major championships: The Masters, the U.S. Open, and The Open Championship (British Open). Some of the greatest golfers to ever play have won the U.S. Amateur before turning pro including Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, and Phil Mickelson.
Virginia Tech has never had a golfer win this prestigious event but Mark Lawrence Jr. may change that this year after earning a spot from winning the Virginia State Amateur earlier this summer.
Lawrence played well in the opening stroke play portion at Riviera Country Club in California, finishing tied for sixth to advance to the 64-man match play tournament and earn the seventh overall seed.
While many top seeds were upset in the early rounds of match play, Lawrence has survived and now is three wins away from winning the U.S. Amateur title and earning a spot in three of golf’s majors.
Lawrence opened the Round of 64 by facing off against former Virginia golfer and 2015 U.S. Amateur runner-up Derek Bard who, despite being the lower-seeded player, likely was seen as the favorite because of his past success. However, Lawrence cruised past Bard being the former UVA star 4&3 to advance to the Round of 32 after a day that saw multiple top seeds get upset.
Lawrence faced off against another ACC golfer in Georgia Tech’s Tyler Strafaci in what was one of the wildest matches of the day. Lawrence started out strong, having a 5 up lead at one point on the front nine but Strafaci slowly fought back and going into the final two holes, Lawrence was one down needing to win at least one hole to force a sudden-death tiebreaker.
Instead of just winning one hole, Lawrence took care of business without the need for a sudden-death tiebreaker winning the final two holes to get a 1-up victory in what has been his closest call so far.
After Lawrence took down Strafaci, he didn’t have much a break going back out on the course for his second match of the day in the Round of 16 against Australian Shae Wools-Cobb. Wools-Cobb tested Lawrence with the pair being all square after the front nine, but Lawrence started strong on the back nine winning the 10th and 11th holes on his way to a 2&1 victory, sending him to the quarterfinals and clinching a spot in next year’s U.S. Amateur.
In the quarterfinals, Lawrence will face Lipscomb’s Dawson Armstrong with the winner clinching a spot in the semifinals and a bid for the 2019 U.S. Amateur.
While Lawrence is likely not known by most Hokies, the transfer from Auburn was solid in his first competitive season with the Hokies, leading the team in scoring average and posting three individual top 5 finishes that helped him earn a spot in the NCAA West Lafayette Regional.
However, this summer has been the best run of his career for the former three-time VHSL champion with his Virginia State Amateur victory being the most significant of his career and earning him this opportunity to play in the U.S. Amateur. Lawrence’s impressive summer should also give him plenty of momentum going into his junior season where the Hokies will look for him to once again be the leader on a team looking to get back to earning a team appearance in a NCAA Tournament regional.
Mark Lawrence Jr. is having a breakthrough summer and is three wins away from the biggest victory in his career and the opportunity to compete in the 2018 editions of The Masters, U.S. Open, and British Open with the rest of the tournament being on FOX and FOX Sports 1.
— The Tech Lunch Pail (@techlunchpaild) August 19, 2017
Mark Lawrence Jr. continued his impressive run losing only two holes to Lipscomb’s Dawson Armstrong and winning the 16th hole to gain a 3&2 victory to advance to the U.S. Amateur semifinals. The win guarantees that Lawrence will be eligible to play in the U.S. Amateur for the next two years while he is now two wins away from what would be the biggest win of his career and guarantee him spots in the 2018 editions of The Masters, U.S. Open, and British Open.
Mark Lawrence Jr. and Clemson’s Doc Redman had a back-and-forth match that came right down to the wire. Lawrence was down 2 with 3 holes to go but won the 16th and 17th holes to put the match at all square going into the 18th hole. However, Lawrence came up short on the last hole with Redman winning the 18th to advance to the championship match.
Despite coming up short, Lawrence has had an impressive run this summer starting when he won the Virginia State Amateur title. Going forward, Lawrence should have lots of momentum going into the fall as the star of a Virginia Tech men’s golf team that will look to advance to a NCAA Tournament regional next spring for the first time since 2015.
Coming home, Lawrence has brought plenty of positive attention on himself and the Virginia Tech men’s golf while also showing that he may have the talent to follow in the footsteps of guys like Brendan De Jonge and Johnson Wagner, and play on the PGA Tour someday.
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