Harding Golfer Qualifies for U.S. Amateur

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HOUSTON, TX – Harding men’s golfer Alex Williamson, who will be a sophomore in the fall, won a five-person playoff Tuesday at Memorial Park Golf Course and qualified for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, America’s most prestigious amateur golf tournament.

“I could not be more proud of Alex and his dedication to qualify,” Harding head golf coach Dustin Howell said.

Williamson, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., shot 71 in Monday’s first round and duplicated that with a 71 in Tuesday’s round for a 142 total.

Williamson finished his second round at 4:30 p.m. and had to wait until 8:20 p.m. to see if his score was good enough to qualify. Only the top three finishers of the 42 players entered qualified for the U.S. Amateur.

When the round ended, Williamson was tied for third place with four other golfers for the third and final qualifying spot.

“When everyone finished and it looked like there would be a playoff, I only had time to hit a bucket of balls,” Williamson said. “With as dark as it was getting, I knew we would not have time to warm up.”

The five golfers returned to the par-5, 550-yard 1st hole with very little sunlight left and drew to see who would tee off first. Williamson went last and had to overcome nerves and darkness.

“I was more nervous than I’ve ever been in my life,” Williamson said. “I could barely hold on to the club.”

With the sunlight nearly gone, Williamson watched the four other golfers hit good tee shots.

“We really only had enough sunlight for our first shots,” Williamson said. “After that, we were playing in the dark.”

Williamson hooked his tee shot into the rough to the left of the fairway, but his second shot put him in position to win the playoff.

“The hole was a dogleg left, so I had a shorter second shot to the green,” Williamson said. “I used a 3-wood and went over a lake and over a bunker, and the ball landed in the fringe just off the green.”

Williamson was 70 feet from the hole.

“My brother was caddying for me and told me to chip it,” Williamson said. “But I told him that I was too scared. I did not want to chunk it, so I putted instead.”

Williamson’s putt rolled within six feet of the hole, but before he could play, he had to watch all four of the other golfers attempt birdie putts. They all missed.

“I had a very similar putt on that hole in the first round,” Williamson said.

And just like he had in the first hole of the qualifier, Williamson rolled in the left-to-right breaker and won the final spot in the national tournament.

“I could not believe I had made it,” Williamson said. “Earlier in the day, I was just hoping to get one of the two alternate spots. But I was so happy with the way I played, I was not going to be mad whether I qualified or not.”

More than 3,000 golfers attempted to qualify for the championship, but Williamson will be one of only 156 to make the field.

The 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship will be held July 15-20 at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, Va. The starting field of 156 golfers will be cut after 36 holes to the low 64 scorers, after which six rounds of match play will be contested to determine the champion.

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