Max McKay (left) and Preton Dembowiak (right) will be facing some of the best amateur golfers in the country this week at the U.S. Amateur.
U.S. Amateur Championship Site While most of Liberty's students will be scrambling around Liberty Mountain on Monday to find a classroom on their first day of class, two members of the student body will be battling it out with some of the best junior golfers in the country. During the last several weeks, Liberty sophomore Max McKay and senior Preston Dembowiak each qualified for the 110th U.S. Amateur Championship, which will be contested at the Chambers Bay Golf Courses in University Place, Wash. The seven-day event will kick off with two days of stroke play on Monday and Tuesday, where the field of 312 golfers will be cut down to the lowest 64 scores. Six rounds of match play will begin on Wednesday, with the 36-hole match play championship scheduled for Sunday. The U.S. Amateur, one of the oldest championships concluded annually by the United States Golf Association (USGA), is open to any amateur golfers who hold a USGA handicap index not exceeding 2.4. The USGA accepted 6,485 entries for this year's event and held 99 sectional qualifying events from July 29 to Aug. 10, where 36 holes of stroke play narrowed the finalist field to 312 golfers. The first two days of competition will be played on two courses at the Chambers Bay Golf Courses. The first is the signature par-71, 7,742 yard Chambers Bay course and the second is the par-72, 7,420 yard The Home course. The Chambers Bay course will be the longest ever used by the USGA in any of its annual championship events. At 7,742 yards, the Chambers Bay course will overtake the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif. (7,643 yards), which hosted the 2008 U.S. Open, won by Tiger Woods in an 18-hole playoff over Rocco Mediate. Some of golf's greatest golfers have added U.S. Amateur titles to their resume. Woods was a three-time champion (1994-95-96), Jack Nicklaus was a two-time winner (1959 and 1961) and Phil Mickelson was the 1990 title winner. Bobby Jones was a five-time U.S. Amateur champion (1924-25-27-28-30). His championship in 1930 helped him become golf's first-ever "Grand Slam" title holder back when the U.S. Amateur was one of golf's major championships. Both McKay and Dembowiak secured their tickets into the event in dramatic fashion. First, McKay (Jacksonville, Fla.) seemed poised and ready for his second trip to the U.S. Amateur, but a triple-bogey seven on the par-4 16th hole left him well out of range at the Sawgrass qualifier in Ponte Verde Beach, Fla. An excellent 8-iron at the par-4 17th hole left him within tap-in range for birdie, getting one of the three shots back he dropped at No. 16. A strong drive and a solid 3-wood put McKay on the green in two on the par-5 18th hole, where he sank a 25-footer for eagle to earn the last of three qualifying spots for the 110th U.S. Amateur. McKay will be playing in his third USGA national championship. He played in the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst two years ago and the U.S. Junior Boys at Trump National in New Jersey. Dembowiak (Summerfield, N.C.) also needed a rally to qualify. Hwever, his charge came during the entire final 18 holes at the Davis Love, III, designed Anderson Creek Golf Club in Spring Lake, N.C. After firing an opening-day, four-over par 76, Dembowiak mounted his comeback during the final day's action. He found a way to shave nine strokes off his opening-day total, carding a five-under par 67 to grab the last of three spots at his qualifying event. McKay and Dembowiak will be the only two Big South Conference golfers competing in this year's U.S. Amateur. Dembowiak is slated to tee off on No. 10 at the Home Course along with Antonio Grillo of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and Josh Eure of Crofton, Md., at 7:15 a.m. (PST) on Monday morning. McKay will follow behind his fellow collegiate teammate later in the afternoon, teeing off on No. 10 at the Home Course at 1:40 p.m. (PST) along with Michael Morrison of Atlanta, Ga., and Scott Langley of St. Louis, Mo. Be sure to follow the Liberty Flames Twitter page for occasional updates on the pair of Liberty golfers as long as the duo is in the week-long event.
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