July 27, 2016
By Dan Colleran
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame men’s golf rising senior Blake Barens qualified for the 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship by firing a two round, seven-under par 135 at sectional qualifying on July 19 at the La Cumbre Country Club in Santa Barbara, California.
The 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship will be held on Aug. 15-21 at the Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. It will mark the 116th edition of the storied championship, which is the oldest USGA championship and dates back to 1895.
"It's great to see Blake is headed to historic Oakland Hills for this year's U.S. Amateur,” Fighting Irish Head Coach Jim Kubinski said. “Blake has improved each year at Notre Dame, making great strides with his game management and emotional maturity. I thought his confidence received a big boost after his runner-up finish at our home tournament last September. It should be fun to watch him at the Amateur Championship and then throughout the upcoming season.”
The U.S. Amateur Championship will include 312 golfers, who will open play with 36 holes of stroke play. The best 64 finishers then advance to match play.
In addition to Barens, rising junior Thomas Steve and rising sophomore Ben Albin won playoffs for first alternate spots for the 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship and could be added to the field at a later date.
Blake Barens of @NDMensGolf medals at #USAmateur qual at La Cumbre, where 3 advance in total https://t.co/nEFJE9fOds pic.twitter.com/QtwCOdYeJN
— SCGA (@thescga) July 19, 2016
“It'll be interesting to see how Oakland Hills is set up,” Kubinski added. “I'm expecting a significant test. The USGA goes about their setups different than players typically face. If it grows the rough to what we saw at The Country Club in 2013, given Oakland Hills' green complexes and expected speed, being in the first cut versus the longer rough by a foot could mean a shot or even a two shot difference on a hole. Players might post 72 instead of 77 because of a combined three feet of accuracy on the round. Driving it well, in order to hit approaches into better areas, and being able to scramble some will be critical."
Over the years, Notre Dame has sent many players to the national championship of amateur golf. Since Kubinski’s first full year at the helm (2005), 10 different Notre Dame golfers have played in the Amateur Championship while 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2013 featured multiple Notre Dame golfers in the field.
Previous highlights at the event include 2010 graduate Carl Santos Ocampo (in 2008 at Pinehurst) and 2012 graduate Max Scodro (in 2011 at Erin Hills) making it to the match play portion of the event (the final 64 out of 312 golfers).
Current Irish assistant coach Scott Gump was the medalist in the 1987 U.S. Amateur at Jupiter Hills (Florida) and he advanced to the semifinals of match play portion. For his efforts, Gump received a Masters invitation, as 1987 was the final year U.S. Amateur semifinalists earned Masters invitations (now it is just the two finalists).
“What an accomplishment though by Coach Gump to defeat 311 of the top amateurs, from the U.S. and around the world, over the 36 holes of stroke play, for that #1 seed heading to match play,” Kubinski concluded.
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Dan Colleran, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been a part of Fighting Irish Media since August 2015 and coordinates all media and publicity efforts surrounding the Notre Dame hockey and men’s golf programs. A native of Walpole, Massachusetts, Colleran spent the previous three years working with the men’s hockey and soccer programs at Providence College. Colleran also spent two years as an Assistant Executive Director of Communications & Championships at the Ivy League and is a graduate of Providence College (’06 & ’08G).