Monday, August 20, 2018

Finalists Announced for Driver vs. Driver 2, Premiering Oct. 2 at 9 p.m. ET

Wilson Golf Takes Unique Approach to Creating Its Next World-Class Golf Driver Through Innovative Elimination-Style Reality Television Series

(ORLANDO, Fla.) – Golf Channel announced today the 14 finalists who will present their innovative driver concepts on Driver vs. Driver 2 presented by Wilson, with the hopes of ultimately becoming Wilson Golf’s next world-class driver. Driver vs. Driver 2 premieres Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 9 p.m. ET, with the seven-episode series airing weekly and concluding Tuesday, Nov. 13.

Driver vs. Driver 2 will follow the trials and tribulations of these aspiring golf equipment designers in an elimination-style television series where they will compete for the opportunity have their concepts transformed into prototypes, field tested, critiqued and refined. Ultimately, one driver concept will be left standing, with the designer winning $250,000 and the final driver hitting retail stores worldwide.

Out of the hundreds of concepts submitted through an open call application process, 14 finalists were selected. Each will present their concept to the panel of celebrity judges during the show’s premiere on Tuesday, Oct. 2:
· Jeremy Roenick – 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst. Also an avid golfer with a single-digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie.
· Rick Shiels – PGA Professional, expert golf equipment reviewer and online golf personality who has nearly 400,000 subscribers and more than 120 million views on his YouTube Channel.
· Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf.

Following the presentations, the judges will deliberate on which finalists’ concepts will advance in the competition. Throughout the seven-episode series, the finalists’ concepts will be field tested and critiqued by some of the game’s best players on the PGA TOUR, celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment, golf industry experts, members of the national golf and sports media, bloggers and social media influencers. Ultimately, one winner’s final design will go on sale at golf retailers worldwide following the season finale.

The finalists, ages 22-81, are a diverse group from throughout the United States that range from inventors, engineers and product designers to college students, professional bowlers and poker players.

FINALISTS:
Chris Adams (32, Denver, Colo.) – A consulting structural engineer from Denver, Colo., Adams works with architects, contractors and developers in designing buildings. On the weekends, Adams can be found on the golf course, where he took up the game at a young age and played competitively in high school. Adams is combining his two passions – engineering and golf – in developing what he hopes to be the winning driver concept, called the Tracer, on Driver vs. Driver 2.

Juan Biancardi (41), Walter Lund (41, Miramar, Fla.) – Juan Biancardi is taking the motto, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” to Driver vs. Driver 2. Biancardi submitted an idea for the series’ inaugural season but didn’t receive an invitation to present to the judges. Enter Walter Lund, who is Biancardi’s swing coach. When shown the driver idea that was submitted for the first season, Lund immediately went to work with Biancardi to refine and improve the concept for season two. Their idea, Black Hornet, is based on creating the most aerodynamic and adjustable driver on the market.

Hank Boomershine (48), Victor Marion (34, Perry, Utah) – Victor Marion and Hank Boomershine are bringing their expertise from the world of bowling to golf. Marion is a designer of bowling balls, and Boomershine is a former competitive bowler who heads up sales and marketing for Storm Bowling Products. Their driver concept focuses on how to create more speed for the driver head through innovative technology.

Jeremy Chell (42, Madison, Wis.) – A mechanical engineer for an aerospace company, Jeremy Chell develops flight hardware for space vehicles traveling to the International Space Station. On the side, Chell is an avid golfer who is enthusiastic about enhancements in golf club technology. Growing up around the game, Chell put the golf clubs away in college and regained interest in the sport early in his professional career. It was during this time that he became fascinated with the technologies in golf equipment, amassing a large collection of golf clubs along the way. Chell’s driver concept, the Launchpad, is, according to him, “A logical progression of current state-of-the-art golf club designs, with technological advantages in creating clubface forgiveness.”

Peter Dreyfuss (48, Naples, Fla.) – A late bloomer to the game of golf, Peter Dreyfuss is an engineer who picked up the golf bug following great success as a competitive sailor with a national championship on his resume. At the end of his sailing career, he began working full time in the medical engineering field, where he guided the word that resulted in 42 patent for orthopedic surgeries. Golf is a hobby for Dreyfuss, and his design, the Yeti, combines his two passions together – golf and engineering – with the average weekend golfer in mind.

Scott Haack (48, Chardon, Ohio) – An inventor, entrepreneur, chiropractic physician and medical device and development professional who has more than 20 years in the medical professional field, Haack’s driver concept, Downforce, combines two design ideas that he developed into one unique concept. A golf tinkerer, Haack has developed two golf products that have advanced to the marketplace – a putter and a golf training aid. Haack’s driver concept is inspired by the benefits downforce has on a race car and its ability to provide speed when the car enters the corners of a racetrack. According to Haack, the same is true for the design of his driver and the speed it provides during the downswing and impact phase of the golf swing.

J.D. Hefferin (27, Orlando, Fla.) – J.D. Hefferin has been in love with the game of golf since a young age, having lived near a golf course his entire life. Fascinated with golf club design, Hefferin who by day is a real estate analyst, and Orlando Magic employee and a professional poker player, can be seen sketching ideas and tweaking golf club designs on the side. His driver idea hopes to revolutionize the square shaped driver, bringing that concept back with a more aerodynamic look and feel.

Evan Hoffman (27, San Diego, Calif.) – An industrial designer who has a deep passion for the game, Evan Hoffman watched every episode of the inaugural season of Driver vs. Driver. When his brother texted him about season two, he immediately went to work. Beginning with sketches, he refined his concept while consulting with his brother, a golfer in his own right. His idea, the Cortex, utilizes a sub frame structure, allowing the weight to be taken out of the center of the club and strategically placed into the skirt, maximizing club head speed and flight control for longer and straighter drives.

Jimmy Huynh (28, Long Beach, Calif). – A finalist from the inaugural season of Driver vs. Driver as part of “Team Long Beach,” Jimmy Huynh has returned with a refined concept. A recent graduate from California State University, Long Beach in the industrial design program, Huynh feels he has a leg up on the competition after going through the process during the first season. His concept, the Magnus 2.0, is based around speed and is customizable, which translates into longer distances off the tee for the average golfer.

Bob Lockhart (81, Big Spring, Texas) – The oldest designer presenting to the judges at 81 years of age, Bob Lockhart’s career has included work in industrial engineering, computer systems and for the past 25 years, product design. Lockhart’s concept, jokingly titled, “’The No Sex Driver,” is described as a simple design where everything that doesn’t help hit golf balls long and straight is left off of it.

Tim Slama (22, Salem, Ore.) – Tim Slama, a senior at Oregon State University studying mechanical engineering, feels that Driver vs. Driver 2 would be the perfect internship. Slama, who also has had multiple design engineering internships in college, aims to be a golf club engineer after he graduates. His driver concept, Roswell, “leverages three major technological innovations which together deliver the golfer unprecedented adjustability, distance and accuracy.” A golfer since he was young, Slama plans to continue to work in the golf industry following graduation.

Samantha Smith – (22, Las Vegas, Nev.) – A recent graduate from the University of Arizona who is currently working towards her Master’s Degree in Public Health and pursuing her PHD, Samantha Smith has been involved in the game of golf since a young age, playing competitively through high school. After watching the inaugural season of Driver vs. Driver and “totally geeking out about the process,” as she puts it, Smith’s concept utilizes learnings she heard on the show from Wilson’s engineers during the first season. Her idea the Supernova, is inspired by the astronomical term, defined as “a star that suddenly increases greatly in brightness because of a catastrophic explosion.”

Tim Swiss – (38, Carlsbad, Calif.) – An industrial designer who has a deep passion for the game, Tim Swiss’ driver concept name, the Widowmaker, is inspired from the look of the Black Widow spider. Swiss’ professional career – designing products in the automotive, media and consumer electronics industries, has allowed him to be around the game of golf, but only as a hobby. As a designer, he has wanted to work on golf club for years, incorporating his professional expertise with a personal passion. “I’ve always had an idea, and when I saw the email about season two, I thought, ‘This would be perfect.’”

Allen Zadeh (50, Brooklyn, N.Y.) – A product designer for over 20 years, Allen Zadeh’s work spans over a wide range of industries, from household products to physical and digital consumer electronic experiences. His career also has allowed him to develop innovations in the sporting goods and the transportation industries. A competitive tennis player growing up, Zadeh learned about Driver vs. Driver 2 via a tennis racquet design blog and immediately went to work on his idea, as the deadline to submit was five days later. Drawing inspirations from his experience designing tennis racquets and watches, Zadeh’s idea focuses on craftsmanship and precision, with the hopes of delivering a ‘Wow Factor’ to the judges.

MELANIE COLLINS TO HOST: Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season of Driver vs Driver in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

GRAND PRIZE: The finalists are competing for $250,000 and the opportunity to have their driver design sold at retail under the Wilson Staff umbrella.

Gross Divisions at World Amateur Handicap Championship to Receive Exemption to Hainan Amateur

35th Annual Event will be Played August 27-31 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

(Myrtle Beach, S.C.) - The gross divisions at the PlayGolfMyrtleBeach.com World Amateur Handicap Championship will be recognized as official World Amateur Golf Ranking events for the first time in 2018, allowing players to accrue rankings points.

The recognition is another step forward for the World Am’s two gross divisions - one for men of any age, the other for senior men (50+ years old). There will be 100 golfers competing in the two gross divisions as players test themselves against high level competition over 72+ holes while enjoying the World Am experience.

After a 72 holes of play, the top three players in each division advance to the championship round at Barefoot Resort’s Dye Course, where a champion is crowned.

Medalists in the gross and senior gross divisions will receive an all expenses paid trip to compete in the Hainan Amateur in the Yangpu Economic Development Zone in China in November.

The exemption isn’t the first time World Am gross division players have earned the right to compete in Asia. The top 10 finishers in the inaugural gross division event in 2014 were invited to participate in a Ryder Cup style event in China.

The 35th annual PlayGolfMyrtleBeach.com World Amateur Handicap Championship will be played August 27-31 on more than 60 of Myrtle Beach’s best courses. In addition to the 100 players competing in the gross divisions, 3,100 additional players from 48 states and 26 countries will be playing in this year’s event.

While the competition is initially what lures players to this bucket list event, it’s only part of what keeps them coming back. At the heart of the World Am’s appeal is the camaraderie among its participants and much of that kinship is fostered at the World’s Largest 19th Hole.

Each night of the event, the 19th Hole overtakes all 120,000-square feet of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, providing participants with free food and drinks, live entertainment, celebrity guest appearances, a golf expo and more.

Among the big names that have appeared at the 19th Hole in 2018 are Golf Channel stars Charlie Rymer, Damon Hack and Chantel McCabe and media personality Paige Spiranac.

Players will also receive a gift bag that perennially includes a logo’d hat, shirt, PGA Tour Superstore gift card and an assortment of other goodies.

For more information, visit www.MyrtleBeachWorldAmateur.com.

USGA Announces 2018 USA World Amateur Teams

(LIBERTY CORNER, N.J.) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) has announced the six players who will represent the USA in the 2018 World Amateur Team Championships, to be played Aug. 29-Sept. 1 for the women and Sept. 5-8 for the men at Carton House Golf Club near Dublin, Ireland.

The players are Kristen Gillman, 20, of Austin, Texas; Jennifer Kupcho, 21, of Westminster, Colo.; and Lilia Vu, 20, of Fountain Valley, Calif., for the USA Women’s Team and Cole Hammer, 18, of Houston, Texas; Collin Morikawa, 21, of La Canada Flintridge, Calif.; and Justin Suh, 21, of San Jose, Calif.

"We are thrilled that this group will represent the United States during this international competition," said Mark Newell, president of the USGA. "The World Amateur Team Championships carry such a rich competitive history, and these six golfers will undoubtedly represent our organization and our country as talented competitors and worthy ambassadors of the game."

The World Amateur Team Championships are conducted by the International Golf Federation (IGF). The IGF also conducts the golf competitions in the Olympic Games and Youth Olympic Games.

Gillman, a rising junior at the University of Alabama, is coming off her second U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship win, defeating incoming teammate Jiwon Jeon, 7 and 6, at the Golf Club of Tennessee earlier this month. Gillman, who is currently No. 3 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), was a member of this summer’s victorious USA Curtis Cup Team. During the Match, Gillman went 5-0-0 to become just the third person to win in every session since the format was expanded to a three-day competition in 2008. During her sophomore season at Alabama, she was named First Team All-American for the second straight year, as well as garnering First Team All-SEC honors. Gillman finished T27 in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open and was a member of the 2014 USA Women’s World Amateur Team.

Kupcho, a rising senior at Wake Forest University, was recently awarded the 2018 Mark H. McCormack Medal, given annually by the USGA and The R&A to the leading female amateur. She is currently No. 1 in the WAGR, and has spent five weeks in the top position this year. Kupcho, also a member of the 2018 USA Curtis Cup Team, won the 2018 NCAA Division I individual championship en route to five individual collegiate wins in her junior season. In addition, she set the school record with a 70.6 scoring average this year.

Vu, a rising senior at UCLA, is No. 2 in the WAGR after spending 19 weeks at No. 1 over the past year, including 18 consecutive weeks beginning in March. A member of the victorious 2018 USA Curtis Cup Team, Vu finished third in this summer’s Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship, as well as third in the Southern California Women’s Amateur Championship. Her junior season also featured four individual collegiate titles.

Stasia Collins, past chairman of the USGA Women’s Committee, will serve as captain of the USA Women’s World Amateur Team.

"I an honored to have the opportunity to serve as captain to these outstanding players," said Collins. "These three women are not only incredibly talented and seasoned competitors, but they are also wonderful individuals who will represent our country tremendously well."

The alternates, in order, are Lauren Stephenson, 21, of Lexington, S.C., and Lucy Li, 15, of Redwood Shores, Calif.

Hammer, who made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur Championship this week at Pebble Beach Golf Links, is an incoming freshman at the University of Texas. Currently No. 17 in the WAGR, Hammer had an incredibly successful summer, winning the 2018 Western Amateur as well as advancing to the semifinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. In the spring, he won the Azalea Invitational, as well as the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship with partner Garrett Barber.

Morikawa, a senior at University of California, Berkeley, is coming off a junior season in which he won two collegiate individual titles and earned 11 Top-20 finishes en route to claiming First Team All-American honors. Currently No. 3 in the WAGR, Morikawa made the cut in the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.

Suh, a junior at USC, has competed in eight USGA championships and advanced to match play in three consecutive U.S. Amateurs. In 2018, Suh was chosen Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year, captured the Pac-12 Championship and established USC’s single-season records for stroke average (68.73) and rounds in the 60s (21). He is currently No. 2 in the WAGR, and in June won the Northeast Amateur.

“The consistency these three young men have as high-quality players is unquestioned and they will be excellent representatives of the USA,” said Thomas J. O’Toole Jr., USA team captain and former president of the USGA. “They are no strangers to USGA competition and we are excited to have them play at Carton House for the USA.”

The alternates, in order, are Shintaro Ban, 22, of San Jose, Calif., and Chandler Phillips, 21, of Huntsville, Texas.

Earlier this summer, the USGA announced a series of revisions to the association’s selection process for international teams that provide for some automatic selections, as well as creating more transparency into how the remaining selections are made. The selection process now automatically names the best-ranked USA players in the WAGR as of pre-determined dates (Kupcho/Suh) as well as an American U.S. Women’s Amateur (Gillman) and U.S. Amateur champion. The selections of Hammer, Morikawa and Vu were decided by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee.

The World Amateur Team Championship was founded in 1958, and the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship began in 1964. The IGF was founded in 1958 to encourage the international development of golf through friendship and sportsmanship. Today, the IGF consists of 151 national governing bodies of golf representing 146 countries and is the international federation for golf for the International Olympic Committee.

The Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Golfing Union of Ireland will host the 2018 World Amateur Team Championships. The championship was last played in 2016 in Riviera Maya, Mexico, with the team from The Republic of Korea taking the title on the women’s side and Australia winning the men’s championship. The USA last won the women’s championship in 1998 and has captured the Espirito Santo Trophy a record 13 times, while the USA won the men’s championship in 2014 and has captured the Eisenhower Trophy a record 15 times.

The 2020 championship will be hosted by the Hong Kong Golf Association and contested at Hong Kong Golf Club (Old and New Courses).

Brandt Snedeker Trusts Bridgestone Golf Equipment to Capture Wyndham Championship

Snedeker Becomes Ninth Player in History to Shoot 59 on TOUR

(COVINGTON, GA) – Bridgestone Golf ambassador Brandt Snedeker captured his 13th professional title this past Sunday with a three-shot victory at the Wyndham Championship, contested at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Snedeker led wire-to-wire after posting an opening round 59, becoming just the ninth player to ever shoot below 60 in an official PGA TOUR event. He trusted a variety of Bridgestone equipment to accomplish this feat and find the winner’s circle. This included the TOUR B X golf ball, a TOUR B JGR Prototype driver (9.5 degrees), J15 cavity back irons (4-P), J40 48 degree wedge, a pair of J15 Black Oxide wedges in 52 and 56 degrees, and the “Sneds” inspired e-Glove.

The former FedExCup winner and long-time Bridgestone Golf staff player trusts the TOUR B X ball because its 330 Dual Dimple design optimizes aerodynamic properties for maximum distance, while the soft urethane cover provides excellent spin and greenside control.

“To shoot 59 on Thursday, to be in the lead all week, to deal with that pressure every night and step up to the plate today and shoot 65 when I had to -- means the world to me,” said Snedeker. “I'm playing my best golf of the year. Got a lot of huge events left, so I'm excited about the opportunity in front of me.”

The TOUR B JGR prototype driver utilized by Snedeker is the latest example of Bridgestone’s commitment to innovation and helping golfers of all skill levels maximize their performance. The driver is part of a new line of ground-breaking clubs that will be available at retail this Fall.

“Brandt has not only been a tremendous ambassador for Bridgestone for over a decade, but one of the most exciting and dynamic golfers in the world,” says Dan Murphy, President and CEO of Bridgestone Golf. “His round of 59 on Thursday was one of the most incredible things that Bridgestone Golf has ever been a part of. We tip our hat to Brandt on this amazing performance and encourage all golfers to follow his footsteps and get a Bridgestone ball fitting to help them find their edge.”

The TOUR B Series golf balls represent Bridgestone’s most technologically advanced models to date. During development, company engineers used data from more than three million in-person and online ball fittings, combined with insights from leading third-party industry sources, to identify needs of specific player types. They then drew on more than 800 golf ball patents to determine which proprietary technologies would most benefit each golfer persona identified.

Bridgestone Golf has four PGA TOUR superstars who will be competing in the upcoming FedExCup Playoffs, including Snedeker, 14-time major championship winner Tiger Woods, Olympics bronze medalist Matt Kuchar and young phenom Bryson DeChambeau. Beyond these elite players, Bridgestone equipment is also trusted by Masters winner Fred Couples and LPGA stars Lexi Thompson and Cheyenne Woods.

More information: bridgestonegolf.com.

Viktor Hovland Becomes First Norwegian to Win the U.S. Amateur Championship

(Pebble Beach, Calif.) - Viktor Hovland, of Norway, capped a dominant week of golf with a 6-and-5 victory over Devon Bling on Sunday in the 36-hole final of the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links, a convincing win that was highlighted by a pair of improbable recoveries on the opening 18 of the 36-hole final.

“I always thought I had a pretty good vocabulary, but I’m lost for words,” said Hovland, whose lone previous victory was the Valspar Collegiate event in 2018. “It’s really special. I’ve only won once before, and to win the U.S. Amateur as my second win is really cool. I just hope it’s the start of something great.”

Hovland, 20, who is No. 5 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and a junior at Oklahoma State University, tied the record for the fewest holes needed to earn the Havemeyer Trophy (104) since the current match-play format was adopted in 1979. Hovland managed to make an incredible birdie from the ice plant some 40 feet down an embankment to the right of the fourth green to win that hole, then saved par to halve the 18th hole after hitting his tee shot into the water, preserving his 4-hole advantage over Bling through the lunch break.

“If you don’t make putts, it’s very hard to make or get momentum,” said Hovland, who helped Oklahoma State win its 11th NCAA title in May. “I felt in a couple places I made the right putts at the right time or I hit the right shots at the right time, especially against Cole Hammer [in Saturday’s semifinals]. This week, when I had to make a putt, I made the putt or hit the shot that I needed to.”

Bling, 18, a sophomore at UCLA, made seven birdies in his semifinal victory over Isaiah Salinda on Saturday, but he made six bogeys in the morning against Hovland, and on two occasions when it appeared that he had the advantage, Hovland stole it back.

On the 292-yard, par-4 fourth hole, with the match all square, Hovland drove over the cliff to the right of the green, while Bling found a greenside bunker. Hovland confirmed that it was his ball, then climbed down the ice plant-covered hillside with his 60-degree wedge.

“The slope was pretty steep, and I kind of slid on the way down there,” said Hovland. “I didn’t want to fall when I hit the shot, so I was just trying to make contact. I had a perfect lie, so the contact wasn’t really the big issue. It was just getting the right line and obviously the right distance. It was a hit-and-hope moment, and it ended up pretty sweet.”

Hovland knocked the ball to 2½ feet for a winning birdie and a lead he would not relinquish. He won three consecutive holes with pars on Nos. 8-10, then made a birdie on No. 11 for a 5-up lead. Hovland’s advantage would never slip below 4 holes the rest of the way.

“It wasn’t really surprising to me,” said Bling of Hovland’s birdie on No. 4. “He’s a great player. He’s in the championship match. You’ve got to hit shots like that to get there. It wasn’t too surprising, but definitely did hurt a little bit.”

Hovland lost the par-3 17th, and was in danger of losing No. 18 after his tee shot found the water. But he made a 12-foot putt to save par from the front bunker and keep Bling from winning consecutive holes and take momentum into the lunch break. Bling then bogeyed the first hole of the afternoon to go 5 down, and Hovland matched two of Bling’s three birdies to blunt any charge. When Bling made a sloppy double bogey on No. 11, the 29th hole of the match, it was all but over, and matching pars on No. 13 sealed the 6-and-5 verdict.

“I definitely felt like he could win this championship,” said Alan Bratton, Hovland’s coach at Oklahoma State and his caddie for the week. “Look at the year he had for us and how well he played in the British Amateur and the European Amateur. He’s the No. 5 amateur in the world. He’s a very solid, consistent player, and he showed that this week.”

Bling will join Hovland at Pebble Beach next June for the 119th U.S. Open and both players also earn a likely invitation to the Masters Tournament in April, provided they remain amateurs. Hovland is also exempt into the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

“It wasn’t the day I was hoping for, but I played really well all week,” said Bling, a rising sophomore at UCLA who had plenty of Bruin supporters following him on the weekend. “It’s just the beginning, it’s not the end. Now I get to look forward to the U.S. Open and the Masters, so that’s definitely a lot of positives coming out of this week.”

What’s Next
The 119th U.S. Amateur Championship will be conducted at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C., Aug. 12-18, 2019. Stroke play will be conducted on Course No. 2 and Course No. 4, with match play slated to take place on No. 2.

Notable
Viktor Hovland tied the record for fewest match-play holes played by a U.S. Amateur champion since the current format of five 18-hole rounds and a 36-hole final was adopted in 1979. The fewest match-play holes played by a champion: Hovland, 104 holes, 2018; Danny Lee, 104 holes, 2008; Bryson DeChambeau, 105 holes, 2015; David Gossett, 107 holes, 1999; Hal Sutton, 109 holes, 1980; Matt Fitzpatrick, 110 holes, 2013.

Hovland is the second Norwegian-born player to win a USGA championship, joining Arne Dokka, who won the 1965 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, and he becomes the fifth player from Oklahoma State to win the U.S. Amateur. Previous Cowboys to win the championship are Peter Uihlein (2010), Scott Verplank (1984), Bob Dickson (1967) and Labron Harris (1962).

Hovland only trailed for one hole during his six matches and he won 44 of the 104 match-play holes he played.

Quotable
Devon Bling, on playing in his home state:
“The support I had was unbelievable. I had friends and family and teammates, and there were people crowded in restaurants back in Ridgecrest watching. I could feel all the support, and it was great to have all that.”

Alan Bratton, Oklahoma State coach and Hovland’s caddie for the week:
“He just got better every day. He didn’t putt very well in the stroke-play portion, but starting with match play he just built momentum each day. When he had to play his best friend from Norway, [Kristoffer] Reitan, in the third round, we were going down the ninth hole and he told me he never felt calmer on a golf course [in a 7-and-6 win]. After that he never looked back.”

Hovland, on the tradition of Oklahoma State golf:
“I remember the first time I came there and just looked at all the pictures on the wall, all the names. When you win one tournament or you finish second and you play pretty good, then you get back and you look at their records, and you’re like, ‘Yeah, I probably shouldn’t be thinking I’m…’ It brings you down to earth. But hopefully after winning this, I can start building on my resume and get myself a picture on that wall.”

Full House Resorts Proposes Innovative Racetrack, Casino, Hotel, and Golf Course in New Mexico

Called “La Posada del Llano,” the Proposed Resort Will Reinvent the Horseracing Industry

(CLOVIS, N.M.) - Full House Resorts has proposed to the New Mexico Racing Commission to build “La Posada del Llano,” a destination resort that will include a racetrack, casino, luxury hotel, 18-hole golf course, water park, and other amenities on the plains of eastern New Mexico. The Las Vegas-based company operates five casino and related hospitality and entertainment facilities throughout the United States.  The development proposal was submitted in response to the New Mexico Racing Commission’s competitive process for the state’s sixth racing license.

“We believe that eastern New Mexico has tremendous potential to attract visitors from throughout the area, including from nearby Amarillo, Lubbock, and other parts of western Texas,” noted Daniel R. Lee, President and Chief Executive Officer of Full House Resorts. “We are proposing to build an entire regional destination resort, entailing much more than just a racetrack and casino.  Such a development will produce more jobs, more development, greater tax revenues, and larger horseracing purses, while also becoming a major attraction and amenity for the region.”

Setting the proposed racetrack apart will be the “Moving Grandstand,” a unique feature that will transform how fans experience live horse races.  Similar to a tram or streetcar, the Moving Grandstand would feature stadium seating for hundreds of guests and travel at the same speed as the racehorses, circling the track and offering spectators a unique close-up view of the horses for the entirety of the race.

Commented Mr. Lee, “In a typical race, spectators in the grandstand only see two brief moments of a race – its start and the closing seconds at the finish line.  Our Moving Grandstand changes that, allowing spectators to race side-by-side with the horses for every dramatic second of the race.  By reinventing the viewing experience, we intend to open horse racing to a new generation of fans.”

The development will also feature a premium RV park, a water park located in the track’s infield, and five miles of recreational riding trails.

“We wanted to design a facility that the City of Clovis – and really, the entire State of New Mexico – can be proud of,” said Mr. Lee. “La Posada del Llano will attract a broad range of guests – those who enjoy a quality racetrack, those whose interest is piqued by our unique set of amenities, and even those who are interested in family entertainment.”

“We are committed to building a project that will provide a luxury experience and complement the unique historic character of the area,” continued Mr. Lee. “We believe it will help transform Clovis into a year-round tourist destination.”

La Posada del Llano pays homage to the Hispanic heritage and population of the region.  “La Posada” means “The Inn” in Spanish and the region is known as the “Llano Estacado,” which translates to “short-grass plains.”  The Full House management team previously developed L’Auberge du Lac, which is the largest and most successful casino resort in Louisiana.  “L’Auberge du Lac” means “The Inn on the Lake,” paying homage to the French cultural history of Louisiana.

Full House Resorts brings an award-winning team of designers, architects, and planners to the project.  For a closer look at La Posada del Llano, including renderings and the site plan, visit www.LaPosadaNewMexico.com. For further information about La Posada del Llano and Full House Resorts, visit www.fullhouseresorts.com.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Viktor Hovland and Devon Bling Will Meet in 118th U.S. Amateur Championship Final

(Pebble Beach, Calif.) - Viktor Hovland of Norway, the No. 5 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), made eight birdies in 16 holes on Saturday to eliminate co-medalist Cole Hammer from the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship, 3 and 2, and set up a 36-hole final against Devon Bling, of Ridgecrest, Calif.

Bling, 18, a rising sophomore at UCLA, was equally impressive in his semifinal victory over Isaiah Salinda, of South San Francisco, Calif., making seven birdies and taking the lead for good on the eighth hole in his 1-up triumph.

Hovland, 20, a rising junior at Oklahoma State University who is playing in his second U.S. Amateur, dashed the hopes of Hammer, who was seeking his second USGA championship of 2018, having won the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball with Garrett Barber in May. Hammer, the No. 2 seed, hit his tee shot out of bounds on the second hole and lost the third hole to Hovland’s birdie. Although Hammer battled back to square the match on three occasions, Hovland took the lead for good on No. 13 with his second of five consecutive birdies to close out the match, capping the win with an 8-foot putt on the par-4 16th hole.

“There were a few matches this year where I got away with not playing great golf, and that was just not going to happen today,” said Hammer, 18, an incoming freshman at the University of Texas who had been 12-1 in his matches at the U.S. Junior Amateur, the Western Amateur and the U.S. Amateur heading into Saturday. “He just played great, made everything he looked at. Pars were never going to win the hole. It was just a test, honestly, to play him today.”

Hovland was coming off consecutive 7-and-6 victories in the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals, and he is bidding to become the first player from Norway to win the U.S. Amateur, as well as the first player from Oklahoma State since Peter Uihlein in 2010. He took full advantage of the calm, soft conditions brought on by the fog that lingered over the course for much of the morning.

“The wind wasn’t blowing as hard, and the greens were a little softer, so the conditions were definitely conducive to making birdies,” said Hovland, who will play the 18th hole for the first time in match play in Sunday’s morning round. “But you’ve still got to hit the shots, and you’ve got to make the putts. I think we fed off each other a little bit. He made a putt and then I answered, if not the same hole then on the next hole. It was a really good match.”

Bling, who is No. 302 in the world, trailed after 15 holes in both his Round-of-16 match against Noah Goodwin, which he won in 20 holes, and in Friday’s quarterfinal match vs. Davis Riley, which he won, 1 up. On Saturday, he seized control with birdies on Nos. 8, 10, 11, 12 and 14, then parred the last four holes to hold off Salinda, 21, a rising senior at Stanford who is No. 73 in the world.

“All aspects of my game were firing on all cylinders,” said Bling. “It was a battle against Isaiah. He played really well himself. I was happy to come out on top.”

On Sunday, Bling will try to become the first player since Nathaniel Crosby in 1981 to win the U.S. Amateur in his home state (Crosby won at The Olympic Club in San Francisco). He will attempt to do so against a player who has trailed for only one hole over his first five matches this week.

“It seemed like everybody on the property was rooting for Cole – they wanted to see the young guy win,” said Alan Bratton, the Oklahoma State coach and Hovland’s caddie. “It’s a perfect motivator for somebody who’s really on their game. I think Viktor has just been himself this week and he’s really built momentum every single day.”

What’s Next
The 36-hole championship match begins at 7:30 a.m. PDT on Sunday. The match will be streamed live on usga.org beginning at 12:30 p.m. EDT, and Fox will show the afternoon round of the match starting at 4:30 p.m. EDT. Both players have earned berths in the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, as well as likely invitations to the 2019 Masters Tournament. The winner will also earn a spot in the 2019 Open Championship, conducted by The R&A.

Notable
►If Viktor Hovland of Norway wins on Sunday, he will become the fourth Scandinavian-born player to win a USGA championship. He would join Annika Sorenstam of Sweden (1995, 1996, 2006 U.S. Women’s Open), Liselotte Neumann of Sweden (1988 U.S. Women’s Open) and Arne Dokka of Norway (1965 U.S. Amateur Public Links).

►Hovland is the sixth Oklahoma State player in the last 23 years to reach the U.S. Amateur final. Peter Uihlein in 2010 is the only one of those Cowboy players to prevail.

►Hovland is looking to become the fifth Oklahoma State player to win the U.S. Amateur, joining Uihlein (2010), Labron Harris Jr. (1962), Bob Dickson (1967) and Scott Verplank (1984).

►Bling is attempting to become the first UCLA player to win the U.S. Amateur and the fourth male Bruin to win a USGA title. He would join Dave Stanley (1951 U.S. Amateur Public Links),Ted Richards (1953 U.S. Amateur Public Links) and Corey Pavin (1995 U.S. Open).

Quotable
Alan Bratton, coach at Oklahoma State and Hovland’s caddie this week, on the key to the match:
“When Viktor made the [birdie] putt on No. 10, he was really off and running. But I thought the key to the match was the putt that Viktor made on No. 14 [to halve the hole in birdies]. When he made that, it stole some momentum from Cole, even though Cole also made a birdie. Then Cole followed it with his 3-wood into the bunker off the 15th tee (leading to a bogey and a 2-up lead for Hovland).”

Viktor Hovland, on how he got to Oklahoma State from Norway:
“In high school in Norway, my plan was set, I was going to go to college and play. I started playing good my senior year and some coaches were recruiting me. I ended up visiting Texas Tech, TCU, Tennessee, and then Oklahoma State. I went there and saw all the trophies and how they talk about the program and the history, and the guys on the team were really nice. Kris [Ventura, of Norway] really helped me understand what was going on at Oklahoma State, so that made the decision pretty easy.”

Isaiah Salinda, who was coming off a course-record 62 at The Olympic Club in his victory in the Pacific Coast Amateur three weeks ago:
“I didn’t really know what to expect coming into this week, but once I made match play, I thought I had a pretty good chance, and kept advancing. But I played well today. That’s all I could ask for. Devon played awesome.”

Devon Bling, on seeing the U.S. Open Trophy on the first tee:
“I was pretty surprised. That’s why I took a long look at it, just to soak it in a little bit because of just being that close to it.”