Seiple, Decker Beat the Heat
Coloradan, Californian advance to U.S. Junior Am after 36-hole qualifier
by Gary Baines
The temperature reached 105 degrees in Longmont on Monday, and the golfers attempting to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship had to walk 36 holes while trying to grind out a good score.
The conditions at The Fox Hill Club took their toll, but after the competition was over, Josh Seiple of Castle Rock and Michael Decker of Pebble Beach, Calif., didn't seem any worse for the wear.
No doubt that had something to do with them being the two players who earned spots in the U.S. Junior Am.
"This means a lot," said Seiple, a 16-year-old junior-to-be at Valor Christian High School. "It was one of my goals going into the summer, so I'll definitely be excited" for the national championship.
Seiple and the 17-year-old Decker shared medalist honors in Sectional Qualifying at The Fox Hill Club with 3-over-par 143 totals. (Seiple is at right in photo with Decker.)
Both will advance to the U.S. Junior Amateur, scheduled for July 16-21 at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham, N.H.
Seiple, winner of the AJGA Aspen Junior Golf Classic earlier this month, shot a 69 in the morning -- one of just two sub-par rounds posted Monday -- and backed it up with an afternoon 74. Decker, a U.S. Amateur qualifier last year, went 72-71 to tie for the best score out of Monday's field, which originally numbered 55.
Both players had caddies, which was no small matter when playing 36 holes, mostly in triple-digit temperatures.
"I'm not used to this," said Decker, who played in the Longmont qualifier while visiting family in Denver. "I kept reminding (my caddie) to make me hydrate every hole, keep me focused, keep me energized. I was about to collapse after the first 18. I'm used to 60-, 70-degree weather. One hundred is not my cup of tea."
The qualifying results from Monday continue a stellar last month of golf for Seiple. Late in May, he finished sixth in the Future Collegians World Tour Tour Championship in Florida. Early this month, he won the AJGA event in Aspen. Then at The Fox Hill Club, he qualified for his first USGA championship.
Perhaps the most notable thing about Seiple's performance Monday was that he was the co-medalist after never having seen the course before. Fortunately, though, Seiple's caddie was Tyler Engel, a CU golfer who knows The Fox Hill Club well.
"I just got back from a tournament in Florida so I didn't have time to play a practice round," Seiple said. "But my caddie plays this course all the time for his college golf team. I just trusted him. I had high expectations for qualifying, but not shooting under par in my first round. Maybe the second, but not the first."
Seiple finished with 30 pars, two birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey over his two rounds. Decker, who three-putted three of his first four holes for bogeys on Monday, chalked up 23 pars, five birdies and eight bogeys.
For Decker, earning a spot was a sweet moment after what happened to him in a U.S. Junior Amateur qualifying tournament in Chicago last year.
"It's kind of a sensitive topic," he said. "I was clearly in (line for a national berth) and we had a big break on 16 -- a three-group backup -- and a laid down. I woke up 30 minutes later. I hadn't hit a ball. I duck hook it out of bounds and finished 4 over for my last three and missed it in a playoff.
"This year it's my last year (to play in the U.S. Junior Am), so I was going to make it. It was redemption."
Alec Bone of Phoenix (76-69--145) and recent CGA Junior Stroke Play champion Jimmy Makloski of Pueblo (70-76--146) garnered the first and second alternate spots, respectively, on Monday.
U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifying
At Par-70 Fox Hill Club in Longmont
ADVANCE TO U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
Joshua Seiple, Castle Rock, Colo. - 69-74--143
Michael Decker, Pebble Beach, Calif. - 72-71--143
ALTERNATES (in order)
Alec Bone, Phoenix, Ariz. - 76-69--145
Jimmy Makloski, Pueblo, Colo. - 70-76--146
FAILED TO QUALIFY
Ethan Freeman, Littleton, Colo. - 75-72--147
Gus Lundquist, Parker, Colo. - 74-74--148
Kevin Wohlfarth, Thornton, Colo. - 75-74--149
Wilson Belk, Colorado Springs, Colo. - 75-74--149
Colin Prater, Colorado Springs, Colo. - 70-79--149
Jake Kelley, Littleton, Colo. - 74-75--149
Pierce Aichinger, Cherry Hills Village, Colo. - 74-76--150
Jack Adolfson, Niwot, Colo. - 74-76--150
Andrew Romano, Littleton, Colo. - 74-76--150
Ethan Yamada, Arvada, Colo. - 74-77--151
Jake Staiano, Cherry Hills, Colo. - 74-79--153
Johan Werge, San Luis Potosi - 78-75--153
Jack Cummings, Arvada, Colo. - 75-79--154
Dylan Wonnacott, Longmont, Colo. - 77-77--154
Ross Macdonald, Castle Rock, Colo. - 82-73--155
Christopher Korte, Littleton, Colo. - 75-80--155
Grant Rogers, Boulder, Colo. - 81-74--155
Li Chen, Westminster, Colo. - 82-73--155
Austin Rowe, Columbine Vallley, Colo. - 78-77--155
Brenden Bone, Phoenix, Ariz. - 74-82--156
Andrew Howe, Longmont, Colo. - 79-77--156
Billy Ramsey, Littleton, Colo. - 78-78--156
Tyler Bricker, Fort Collins, Colo. - 76-83--159
Alec Poorman, Boulder, Colo. - 78-82--160
John Hadfield, Highlands Ranch, Colo. - 78-82--160
Daniel Pearson, Longmont, Colo. - 82-78--160
Josh Mclaughlin, Fort Collins, Colo. - 80-81--161
Randy Urso, Aurora, Colo. - 82-79--161
Gary Schlatter, Cherry Hills Village, Colo. - 75-87--162
Benjamin Moore, Englewood, Colo. - 79-83--162
Matthew Bell, Fort Collins, Colo. - 85-78--163
Dylan Mitchell, Breckenridge, Colo. - 83-80--163
Samuel Theil, Evergreen, Colo. - 82-81--163
Hayden Nicholaides, Englewood, Colo. - 81-82--163
Sam Lange, Golden, Colo. - 83-80--163
Hayden Plewe, Cortez, Colo. - 81-83--164
Jackson Solem, Longmont, Colo. - 84-80--164
Austin Hardman, Highlands Ranch, Colo. - 79-86--165
Eli Schoenbeck, Pueblo West, Colo. - 82-87--169
Trevor Mckune, Littleton, Colo. - 81-88--169
Matthew Vacek, Lafayette, Colo. - 85-87--172
Dylan Rakowski, Carbondale, Colo. - 91-83--174
Robert Morris Pettit, Basalt, Colo. - 92-91--183