Kenny Doerrer was starting to think this just wasn't his summer. But after just missing two titles earlier this year, the Winthrop University junior got key putts to fall yesterday. He shot a 3-under-par 67 at Manor Country Club to finish 68-67--135, earning medalist honors and one of four qualifying spots for the U.S. Amateur Championship.
Doerrer, 19, who will make his first appearance in a USGA championship, was joined by yesterday's leader, Paul Simson (67-69--136), a North Carolina native who qualified for his 11th U.S. Amateur, and University of Virginia junior and Georgetown Prep graduate Mike Mitchell (70-67--137), who qualified for his second. The three earned their spots at the Washington Metropolitan Golf Association's sectional qualifier.
Northwestern senior and Sherwood High graduate Danny Riskam (72-68--140), playing with a torn ligament in his right index finger, needed a 20-foot par save on No. 18 and two playoff holes to earn his spot. He defeated Brad Burris with a birdie on No. 11; he and Burris had parred No. 10, the first playoff hole, while Chris Connolly bogeyed it.
The U.S. Amateur will be held Aug. 16-22 at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Doerrer, who came close to titles at the WMGA and Maryland state men's amateur this year, began thinking he might have to wait another summer for his breakthrough. But when a 15-foot par putt on No. 1 and another 15-footer for birdie on No. 2 fell yesterday, his mind-set changed.
"Making those putts really got me thinking that this was the day," Doerrer said. "I've been playing real well all summer but have had trouble making the big putts. Lately I've been rolling it real well and when those first two fell, I was feeling pretty good."
Doerrer played the round he has been waiting for all summer, but yesterday was just another in a series of near-perfect rounds for Mitchell, the 1999 WMGA Amateur winner and Maryland Open champion.
"Truthfully, this is the one I've wanted most all summer," Mitchell said. "It's what I planned my whole summer around."
Four years ago, when he was 15, Mitchell was the U.S. Amateur sectional qualifying medalist at Woodmore.
"At 15 it was a lot of luck," Mitchell said. "But this is going to be the most amazing tournament ever. To make it is incredible and I'm really going to enjoy every minute of it."