(Editor's note: UW Athletics release)
LARAMIE, Wyo. - University of Wyoming golfers Kirby Coe-Kirkham and Jimmy Dales will be competing next week at the greatest amateur golf tournament in the world -- the 121st U.S. Amateur -- at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa., and Longue Vue Club in Verona, Pa., Aug. 9-15.
The USGA accepted 7,811 entries into qualifying tournaments this year, the most since 1999. That field was narrowed down to 312 individuals after all qualifying tournaments were completed. The 312 individual qualifiers have ties to 21 different countries around the world.
Coe-Kirkham won the U.S. Amateur Qualifier held at Jacoby Golf Course in Laramie, Wyo., on July 6. Coe-Kirkham earned the one qualifying spot out of the Jacoby qualifier. The Sheridan, Wyo., native shot rounds of 67 and 70 for a 36-hole total of 137 (-5) to win by two strokes over Brian Dorfman of Denver,Colo., and Trey Massey of Lander, Wyo., who both finished at 139 (-3).
Dales captured medalist honors at the U.S. Amateur Qualifier hosted at the Walnut Creek Country Club in South Lyon, Mich., on July 19. Dales, a native of Northville, Mich., fired rounds of 71 and 65 for a 136 (-6) total to win by two strokes. He was one of three qualifiers that came out of the Walnut Creek Qualifier.
The format for this year’s U.S. Amateur will be two 18-hole rounds of stroke play on Aug. 9 and 10, with the top 64 golfers advancing to match play. The match play rounds will begin on Aug. 11 and run through Aug. 15. The championship match will be a 36-hole match between the final two participants.
The 312 qualifiers will be split up into 104 groups of three players each. During the first two days of stroke play, each player will play with the same group of golfers on both days and will play one round on Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa., and one round on Longue Vue Club in Verona, Pa. Oakmont measures 7,254 yards and will play to a Par 70. Longue Vue measures 6,647 yards and will also play to a Par 70.
Dales is scheduled to tee off in the first round on Monday, Aug. 9 at 8:10 a.m., Eastern Time (6:10 a.m., Mountain) on the first hole at Oakmont. He will be playing with Brian Garrett of the United States and Kento Yamawaki of Japan. Coe-Kirkham’s Monday tee time is set for 9:20 a.m., Eastern (7:20 a.m. Mountain) on the first hole at Longue Vue. He will be playing the with Brandon Bueno and Carson Enright both of the United States.
In the second round on Tuesday, Aug. 10, Dales tee time is set for 1:25 p.m., Eastern (11:25 a.m., Mountain) on the ninth hole at Longue Vue. Coe-Kirkham’s Tuesday tee time is set for 2:15 p.m., Eastern (12:15 p.m., Mountain) on the 10th hole at Oakmont.
“I’m really looking forward to the competition and being able to see Oakmont (Country Club). Not many people get to play that course,” said Coe-Kirkham. “It means a lot to be able to compete against the best amateurs in the world.
“I’ve been trying to qualify for the U.S. Am for several years. It’s the tournament I’ve wanted to play in my entire amateur career. My game is coming along really well this summer, and I’m looking forward for this opportunity.”
Asked what it meant to him to be playing with his teammate Dales in this year’s U.S. Amateur, Coe-Kirkham said, “It’s going to be awesome. I’m really glad he made it. Jimmy has been playing really good, so I’m not surprised. It will be fun to battle it out with him.”
“This means the world to me,” said Dales. “It’s the biggest amateur event in the world. I feel like I’ve worked really hard to get here, and I’m really excited to have a chance to play well. It is a tremendous opportunity. I think this is my fifth try at qualifying, so it is great to finally realize that goal.”
For Dales, he began the qualifier with an even par round but exploded with a six-under par final round to capture the win.
“I shot even par in the morning and I saw a lot of guys who shot three under, so I knew I had to really go out there in the second round and post a low number,” said Dales. “I made the turn at four under and knew I had a chance. I never looked at the leader board. I holed out a seven iron on the fifth to last hole for an eagle that got me to six under, and I just kind of held on the rest of the way. I got off the course and one of my buddies told me I was in and it was one of the biggest feelings of relief and gratitude I’ve ever had.
“It is going to be amazing to get to play along with Kirby. When I saw Kirby qualified and a couple of my buddies here also qualified, I knew I wanted to go out and join them.”
“The U.S. Am is regarded as maybe the best amateur tournament in the world, so for us to have not only one but two players represented in this event is great for Kirby and Jimmy and also great for our program,” said Joe Jensen, UW Director of Golf. “There are certainly a pool of schools who will have multiple players in the tournament, but it is a small pool of schools. It is something we are very, very proud of.
“I know both Jimmy and Kirby are excited to be playing, and I also know they are focused to play well. All the qualifiers will start out with two rounds of stroke play and then they will cut the field down and those individuals will move into match play. I know both Kirby’s and Jimmy’s goals are to get to the match play portion of the U.S. Am.”
Coe-Kirkham’s and Dales’ successes this summer are among many strong performances by Cowboy golfers throughout the summer of 2021. When asked what it means to the Wyoming Golf program to have players experience added competition and success throughout the summer months, Jensen replied, “It is unbelievably beneficial. We know we have a good group of players coming back, but we need to have balance to be successful as a team. I believe we have that balance in the team we have returning. It is also important for our players to learn to play well under pressure, and these types of events provide that experience.”
Among the former winners of the U.S. Amateur include some of the greatest names in golf, including: Bobby Jones (1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930), Arnold Palmer (1954), Jack Nicklaus (1959, 1961), Phil Mickelson (1990) and Tiger Woods (1994, 1995, 1996).