US Amateur: Set & Ready!

The 2011 US Amateur gets underway this Saturday and will be played at Erin Hills and Blue Mound Golf & Country Club in nearby Wauwatosa, about 60 kilometres northwest of Milwaukee.

Blue Mound hosted the 1933 PGA Championship, the only other major that has been played in Wisconsin. The 2017 US Open is scheduled to be played at Erin Hills, which is simply a fantastic layout.

Erin Hills is a marvellous "Irish links-style" course that lies in the considerable shadow of Whistling Straits, which hosted the PGA Championship in 2004 and 2010 and will host another PGA in 2015, plus the Ryder Cup in 2020. The layout can be stretched to nearly 7315 metres and has some grand Irish links-style holes that take advantage of the area's rolling terrain and natural grasses.

It's the longest course in US Amateur history, overplaying last year's venue, Chambers Bay by 30 metres.

Three hundred and twelve players from sixteen countries are represented including players from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, El Salvador, England, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, the United States and Venezuela.

The Australian contingent is spearheaded by Ryan McCarthy, who last year at Chambers Bay secured a top-16 finish, Bryden Macpherson, Matt Stieger, Andrew McCain and Daniel Nisbet.

There are eight USGA champions in the field.

Byeong-Hun An, 19, of Korea (2009 US Amateur), Brad Benjamin, 24, (2009 US Amateur Public Links), Jim Liu, 15, (2010 US Junior Amateur), Corbin Mills, 21, (2011 US Amateur Public Links), Nathan Smith, 32, (2003, 2009, 2010 US Mid-Amateur), Jordan Spieth, 18, (2009, 2011 US Junior Amateur), Peter Uihlein, 21, (2010 US Amateur), and Cory Whitsett, 19, of Houston, Texas (2007 US Junior Amateur).

Include into the mix members of the US Walker Cup team, including, Patrick Cantlay, 19, Harris English, 22, Russell Henley, 22, Patrick Rodgers, 18, and Chris Williams, 20, this US Amateur field is packed full of talent.

English players include Tom Lewis, Jack Senior and Stiggy Hodgson. Lewis will be looking to improve on his efforts a few weeks back at the Western Amateur where the world number 3 failed to qualify for the desired match play segment of the event.

Lewis needs some solid results here in the US and this layout should favour the English. Jack Senior won the NSW Amateur back in March and is a majestic match play exponent, whilst Stiggy Hodgson is experienced enough to challenge for this title.

At present all the attention is on whether Uihlein can secure back to back victories.

Uihlein undoubtedly heads into this US Amateur at Erin Hills as one of the names to watch. Last year in Argentina for the World Amateur Team Championship, Uihlein was the leading individual, ended the season as the world number 1 amateur and earlier this year received the Ben Hogan Award as the nation's best collegian golfer.

"It's just been a great experience being the champion this year," said Uihlein, who is entering his senior year at Oklahoma State.

"To be able to play in the US Open, the Open Championship, the Masters, those experiences have made me become a better player this year than I was last year. It's all thanks to the opportunities being the US Amateur champion has given me. This is a new championship and I come to it confident that I'll be playing well."

At the Western Amateur Uihlein pushed Pat Cantlay to the 19th in their quarter final showdown. Both are considered strong favourites this week here in Milwaukee.

With winning the US Amateur the champion receives exemptions into the 2011 US Open Championship and British Open, as well as an invitation to the Masters Tournament. In last year's final Uihlein added his name to the coveted Havemeyer Trophy with a 4-and-2 victory over David Chung.

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