Nobody needs to tell golfer Josh Whalen just how hard it is to earn a spot in the U.S. Amateur Championship through the qualification process.
The soon-to-be-23-year-old Napanee native clinched his second ever berth in the U.S. Amateur last Friday firing two-under-par 138 over 36 holes at the Currie Golf Course in Midland, OH to finish tied for first in the field of 66.
It was his first time qualifying for the U.S. Amateur since 2015.
“It’s not easy to get there,” Whalen said of qualifying. “If you’re not one of the top 50 players in the world and don’t get invited then you have qualifiers that are one day and 36 holes. When you sign up for it you don’t know who is going to be there or how many spots each place is going to have. It’s tough. You just show up one day, try to play your best and if you don’t you’re probably not going (to qualify). If you do, you should have a good chance at getting a spot.”
A qualifier is also very different than a four day tournament in that it’s two rounds packed into one day, so a golfer has little time to right the ship if they are having a bad day.
Whalen fired 70 through his first trip and then a 68 over the final 18.
He has now earned the right to tee off at the legendary Pebble Beach in California, Aug. 13-19 against the best amateur golfers from around the world. This time around he expects to be a little more prepared for playing in one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world.
“The first time I qualified I was going between my second and third year of school (at Kent University),” recalled Whalen. “I was having a good year that year when I qualified. I had played a lot of tournaments against some good players but I hadn’t really competed too many times. Since then I’ve been in a lot of college events and amateur tournaments with some of the best players in the world and I’ve been able to compete and feel like I belong. I think this year will be a little different and I’ll bring more experience and knowing that I can play and compete.”
He’s also looking forward to playing at on the legendary course.
“I’ve never really been to the west coast other than B.C. and Seattle,” said Whalen. “It’ll be cool, it’s right on the ocean.”
Along with preparing for the U.S. Amateur, Whalen has a busy summer ahead. He’ll take part in his fourth Porter Cup in Niagara Falls, NY starting on Wednesday, which is an event he’s had success at in previous years. He also intends to play in the Monday qualifier for the Canadian Open, which runs July 26-29 in Oakville, Ont. as well as playing in the Canadian Amateur, which will be held on Vancouver Island, B.C. Aug. 6-9.