Stone and Lombard come up short at US Amateur

Two of South Africa’s leading amateur golfers, Brandon Stone and Zander Lombard, made in their debut at the US Amateur Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado on Monday, but both players failed to advance to the match play portion after two days of stroke play qualifying.

The stroke play qualifier whittled the field from a contingent of 312 golfers from 21 countries and 43 US states to just 64 for the match play stage.

Stone had qualified for the world’s most prestigious amateur championship by way of his top 30 ranking on the Official World Amateur Golf Rankings, while Lombard got a taste of the expected standard and pressure when he had to pre-qualify in the United States to secure a spot for the championship.

Stone, who carded rounds of 72 and 73, came agonisingly close and finished just two shots shy of the cut, which fell at 143. Lombard fired a solid opening 68 at the Cherry Hills course, but the 17-year-old couldn’t keep his momentum going at the Common Ground course, returning a second round 78 to close with a total of five-over-par 146.

Although disappointed, Stone said he nevertheless enjoyed the experience of teeing it up with the world’s best golfers and will take a lot of great memories away from his first appearance at such a prestigious tournament.

“Well, obviously it’s been a disappointing two days,” the Els Club Copperleaf golfer said.

“I just had too many missed putts and a couple of bad breaks, but I’ve learned lots this week. It was an incredible experience to tee it up in the company of the world’s top golfers. The standard was very high and to compete at this level, you really need the putts to drop.

“But I’ll take all I’ve learned and start applying it to the collegiate chapter of my career. Hopefully I will get another shot at the Havemeyer Trophy next year.”

While Lombard returns to South Africa, Stone will be taking up a golf scholarship at the University of Texas at the end of August. But the pair will reunite from 4 to 7 October when they tee it up alongside Haydn Porteous and fly the flag for South Africa in the Eisenhower Trophy at the biennial World Amateur Team Championships in Turkey.

Porteous is the current number one on the South African Golf Association’s rankings, Stone ranks second and Lombard is ranked third.

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