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Three Share Medalist Lead in Weather-Delayed U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills
Sixteen-year-old Beau Hossler of Mission Viejo, Calif., along with Blayne Barber, 21, of Lake City, Fla., and Ben Geyer, 19, of Arbuckle, Calif., posted 7-under-par 36-hole totals of 135 to share stroke-play medalist honors at Tuesday's weather-delayed 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship.
Hossler qualified for the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club but missed the cut after rounds of 76-77. He's a junior at Santa Margarita High School and played in his first U.S. Amateur in 2009 at age 14. He made seven birdies and three bogeys in shooting 4-under-par 66 on the par-70, 6,622-yard Blue Mound Golf and Country Club.
"I really hit the ball well," said Hossler, who was the stroke-play medalist at the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur. "I knew coming in this would be a good tournament for me because it's difficult and I feel very comfortable under difficult conditions."
Barber, a redshirt sophomore at Auburn who was on the 2011 U.S. Palmer Cup, shot 67 at Blue Mound. Geyer, a junior at St. Mary's College in California, posted seven birdies and a bogey at the 7,760-yard, par-72 Erin Hills for a 6-under-par 66, which tied Mike Ignasiak, 45, of Saline, Mich., for the best score at the host course in stroke play.
The trio was among the 157 players who endured a three-hour, 40-minute weather delay in the morning and then completed their second stroke-play qualifying rounds later Tuesday afternoon.
None of the players in the afternoon wave completed their second rounds, including defending champion Peter Uihlein, 21, of Orlando, Fla., and two of the three first-round leaders: Blake Biddle, 19, of St. Charles, Ill., and Gregor Main, 22, of Danville, Calif.
Biddle had completed 12 holes at Blue Mound and was unofficially three under par for Tuesday's round and 8-under par through 30 holes.
The second round was suspended due to darkness (at 7 p.m. at Erin Hills and 7:15 p.m. at Blue Mound), and will resume at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. Following any necessary playoff to get the field to 64 players for the match-play portion of the championship, the first round of match play will begin at a time to be determined.
Hossler, who led his high-school team to a fourth-place finish in the California state tournament, has been using his competitive season as a classroom.
"It's been great," he said. "Even though I haven't had the practice sessions that I normally have because I have been so busy, the tournament experience has made me a lot more comfortable on bigger stages like this one. I was a little intimidated when I played this a couple of years ago but now I feel very comfortable and I know a lot of the guys here. I can learn from those types of guys."
Geyer, who is playing in his first U.S. Amateur but competed earlier this summer at the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links, credited his putter for his scoring. "When I was 3-under after eight with a bogey, that was pretty good," Geyer said. "The first five holes I had birdie putts inside 20 feet and only made two of them. I knew I was hitting the ball well. That putt where I lipped out for par on six was a good putt. From there, I started putting well."
Barber admitted to using the stroke-play medal as an incentive to keep playing well after a 68 at Erin Hills on Monday. "I tried to keep focused on that because I didn't want to get complacent and start playing defensively," Barber said. "I don't know what it's going to take, but I was thinking, 'Just go out there and try to be the medalist. But whatever happens, happens.' At least if I was pushing for that, match play was going to happen, be an end result of that."
The above report is courtesy of the USGA. For more information and all the completed scores, visit www.usga.org.