U.S. Amateur Website
By Jeff Gentil
For the second straight year, a UC golfer is going to play in the United States Amateur Championship. Starting Monday, August 23rd, senior Joe Kastelic will tee it up in the 110th edition of the oldest golf championship in the country. Last year, Bambee Dela Paz shot 77-84=161 and finished 132nd out of 312.
It took a few extra holes then he would have liked, but after a three-hole playoff, Kastelic found himself as one of just three of the 80 participating golfers at Camargo Country Club to qualify for the Championship. The Amateur will be played at Chambers Bay Golf Club in University Place, Washington.
After shooting 66-73=139, Kastelic finally broke through on a goal he had attempted several times before.
"It was my fourth different time trying," he said. "I've been fairly close a few times - within four to seven shots. It was shocking at first when I made it. Now it has settled in a bit."
UC head men's coach Doug Martin says it is a big feather in the cap for the program.
"The U.S. Amateur is the hardest tournament to qualify for," he said. "It bodes well for his ability as a player and kids we bring into the program."
Martin, who has played in several U.S. Amateurs of his own, has been advising Kastelic of what to expect.
"I have a history with the USGA. I've talked with him a few times," he said. "We've talked philosophy and that he needs to be relaxed and patient. If not, the course will eat you up and spit you out. He knows that if he drives the ball into the rough to just get it back out into the fairway and make pars. I look for Joe to play very well. He knows what he's doing."
Kastelic will have some company both on the course and outside the ropes. In addition to his Mom and Dad, teammate Zach Bates will be accompanying Kastelic to Washington. Unlike his parents, however, the sophomore Bates will be on the course serving as caddy to help guide Kastelic around the longest course in U.S. Amateur history at 7,754 yards. That length might hurt off the tee, but Kastelic claims his iron play is his strength.
"I'd say I have average to fair distance (off the tee)," he said. "My strength is definitely my short game - irons, wedges, around the green."
While the format of the tournament calls for all of the 312 participants to compete in stroke play for the first two rounds, only 64 players will advance to match play, something Kastelic has his eyes on.
"I've never played in a tournament like this before," he said. "I'd like to make match play. If I did that I'd definitely be happy with my performance."
It is an experience that will have a lasting effect on Kastelic, who Martin believes is set to have an outstanding season.
"It is a great stepping stone to his senior season," he said. "And for a change, he will have players around him (this season) who can help him. His first three years he's had to hold up the team, seeing that every score of his has counted which is borderline amazing. Now he will have the freedom to play without that pressure."