As 2019 draws to a close, AmateurGolf.com takes a look back at the 25 most interesting stories of what was another banner year for amateur golf.
The first five stories include a kamikaze U.S. Amateur qualifier, a most unexpected return to high-level competition, a pair of aces, a teenage phenom on the professional stage, and a Masters debut that started with a bang (and some bling).
The top amateur golf moments of 2019, Nos. 21-25:
No. 25: Player DQ’d after purposely running up score in U.S. Am qualifier
Most competitive amateurs enter U.S. Amateur qualifying in the hopes of competing in the most important tournament in amateur golf. In Florida, a professional caddie showed up at his qualifier with a slightly different goal, telling his playing partner he wanted to shoot the highest recorded score in USGA history. A three-digit score soon became a two-letter verdict as the Florida State Golf Association laid the hammer down.
No 24: In his first individual tourney in 6 years, Maude wins the Travis
Returning to high-level competitive golf after a long absence is a daunting proposition, which is why Tug Maude was more surprised than anyone when he captured the 110th Walter Travis Invitational at Garden City Golf Club. Not only was it his first Travis appearance, it was his first individual tournament in six years. But a taste of big-time competition last year rekindled his passion and paved the way for the unlikely win.
No 23: Slayden makes two holes-in-one in the same tournament
Making a hole-in-one on your home golf course is a good way to run up a bar tab buying drinks for your fellow members. Well, the drinks were on 22-year-old Steve Slayden — twice — at Sawgrass Country Club in Florida. Playing in the Jacksonville Amateur, Slayden rode two aces to a top-10 finish and, presumably, a very high bill from his club when the end of the month came.
No 22: Thai teen Thitikul, 16, wins another LET event as an amateur
Atthaya Thitikul continued her rise to the top of the women’s amateur golf world in 2019. The winner of last year’s inaugural Asia-Pacific Women’s Amateur earned low amateur honors at this year’s Women’s British Open, and added a World Junior Girls individual title. But it was her win in the Ladies European Thailand Championship — her second in a Ladies European Tour professional event — that put her in elite company.
No 21: Amateur Devon Bling aces No. 7 in Masters Par 3 Contest
Devon Bling made his first Masters appearance on the strength of his runner-up finish in last year’s U.S. Amateur. He showed well, making the cut and placing 55th. And while he didn’t finish as low amateur, Bling did bring home some bling (crystal to be more specific) thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime shot on Wednesday at the Masters Par-3 Contest. Watching the video of his shot and reaction never gets old.
The Top Amateur Moments series continues with another five stories each week until the end of the year. Stay tuned!