Zach Pollo of Rocklin, Dylan McDermott of Granite Bay and Jacob Westberg of Sacramento will all be heading east in August to play in the 122nd U.S. Amateur
The Sacramento area will be well represented at this year’s 122nd U.S. Amateur. Zach Pollo of Rocklin, Dylan McDermott of Granite Bay and Jacob Westberg of Sacramento will all be heading east in August to play in the 122nd U.S. Amateur. They each advanced from recent 36-hole qualifiers and will be in the field for the U.S. Golf Association event, which takes place at The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., the championship venue, and Arcola Country Club in Paramus, N.J., the stroke-play co-host venue.
The field will be cut to the low 64 scores following two days of stroke play, on August 15 and 16. This is followed by match play, starting on August 17. The U.S. Amateur finishes on August 21 with a 36-hole championship match, the USGA said.
“The U.S. Am wasn’t ever on my mind until recently, because I wasn’t even in college yet. It’s basically the biggest amateur event there is,” said Pollo. “To make it in and not even be in college yet, it just means a lot to me and feels really good to be able to have gotten it done.” Pollo, a 2022 graduate of Whitney High School-Rocklin, and McDermott, who recently completed his freshman season of college golf at the University of Colorado, each advanced from a qualifier at Rancho Murieta Country Club on Monday, July 18. “We’ve played so much this summer. We’ve just been battling it out all summer,” said McDermott. “It’s really awesome that the two of us were the two that made it.”
Pollo, who will play golf in college for the University of Arizona starting in the fall, was the medalist with a 6-under-par 138 total. McDermott, a 2021 Granite Bay High School graduate, was the runner-up at 5-under 139. The qualifying was held on the North Course, a par-72, 6,775-yard layout, at Rancho Murieta.
They secured the only qualifying spots. Pollo had rounds of 68 and 70 and won by a one-shot margin over McDermott, who had rounds of 68 and 71.
“It was a wonderful day for Dylan (Monday, July 18),” said Roy Edwards, the University of Colorado head men’s golf coach. “He has been playing some tremendous golf and qualifying for the U.S. Amateur is an outstanding accomplishment for a great player. I expect him to have a great week in New Jersey.”
The two alternates are Kevin Huff of El Dorado Hills (71-69 – 140) and Reid Buzby of San Francisco (72-69 – 141).
“It’s a dream come true to actually be able to make it,” said McDermott. “Now that I’m in college, the U.S. Am is like the Holy Grail. It’s the best tournament to get into, so I’m really excited to be able to go this year.I just got a full, brand-new set of (Callaway Golf) clubs. So, I will be spending the next three weeks trying to figure out my distances and getting everything ready for it.”
Temperatures hovered above the 100-degree mark, making the conditions super challenging.
Westberg, a 2019 Inderkum High School-Sacramento graduate who will be starting his junior year in the fall for UC Davis, finished second in a U.S. Amateur qualifying on Monday, July 11 at Almaden Country Club in San Jose.
Westberg, named second-team All-Big West Conference for the second year in a row, finished at 7-under-par 137, with rounds of 66 and 71. Nathan Wang of Fremont earned medalist honors by shooting 10-under-par 134, with rounds of 65 and 69. Almaden is a par-72, 6,888-yard course. Wang and Westberg were the only players to advance through the qualifier at Almaden.
A Look At The U.S. Amateur
A total of 7,749 entries were accepted for the U.S. Amateur, the USGA reported on its website, www.usga.org. Entries closed on June 22. In order to be eligible, a player cannot have a Handicap Index exceeding 2.4. There will be a field of 312 players. Qualifying, over 36 holes, for the U.S. Amateur is held from June 27 to July 27, at 94 sites, the USGA said. Past champions include Francis Ouimet (1913, 1931), Bob Jones (1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930), Arnold Palmer (1954), Jack Nicklaus (1959, 1961), Deane Beman (1960, 1963), Lanny Wadkins (1970), Phil Mickelson (1990), Tiger Woods (1994, 1995, 1996), Matthew Fitzpatrick (2013), and Bryson DeChambeau (2015).
According to the USGA, at www.usga.org, the champion will receive:
- A gold medal.
- Custody of the Havemeyer Trophy for one year.
- Exemption from qualifying for the next 10 U.S. Amateurs.
- Exemption into the 2023 U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club.
- Exemption into the 2023 Open Championship. It’s conducted by The R&A and the player must be an amateur.
Peacock will have coverage August 17, 18 and 19. Golf Channel will have coverage August 17, 18, 29, 20 and 21. The Olympic Club in San Francisco will host the U.S. Amateur in 2025.
Zach Pollo Advances To Two USGA Events
Pollo, who plays out of Whitney Oaks Golf Club in Rocklin and Catta Verdera Country Club in Lincoln, also advanced through a qualifier for the U.S. Junior Amateur. Pollo shot a 5-under-par 67 and took second place, finishing one stroke off the lead, in a qualifier on June 13 at Yolo Fliers Club in Woodland. Only three players advanced. The U.S. Junior Amateur is July 25-30 at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (Bandon Dunes) and Bandon Dunes G.R. (Bandon Trails) in Bandon, Ore.
“A couple of months ago, I had never played in a USGA event, and I made it into the U.S. Junior. And then to make it to the U.S. Am, I think, was just a bonus. To play in both the U.S. Junior and the U.S. Am, I couldn’t be any more pleased with just the fact that those two tournaments coming up are going to be a really great experience,” said Pollo.
The U.S. Junior Amateur will have a field of 264 players. Qualifying, over 18 holes, was held from June 1 to July 1 at 57 sites. In order to be eligible, a player cannot have a Handicap Index exceeding 4.4, and not reached his 19th birthday by July 30, 2022, the USGA said at www.usga.org.
“The game feels really good,” said Pollo. “Obviously, I think to get there, your game has to be solid, and the game has been solid. For the most part, it’s just been about getting the putts to drop and obviously in these two circumstances they did.”
At the U.S. Amateur qualifying, Pollo had birdies on Nos. 1, 2, 8, 14, 15 and 17 in the first round.
He eagled No. 1 and had birdies on Nos. 3, 8, 9 and 14 in the second round. “Playing the back nine, which is tight, with (out of bounds) on both sides, I knew I had a pretty decent lead the whole time,” said Pollo. “I thought I played some of the best golf to just keep it in the fairways and hit the greens and get out of there with two putts at worse, because pars at that point were going to win it. I just knew if I kept it together on the back, that I’d get it done. So, I thought the way I handled the back nine, and in the lead, was good. Going into it, I really wanted to get in, and that was a big goal of mine. But for the most part, I was just saying, ‘It’s going to be difficult to get in, so don’t put your expectations too high and just play smart, but play aggressive when you need to.’ ”
Caddying for Pollo was Tom Morton, a PGA Member, who is with the ownership team at Morton Golf and also the President of Morton Golf Foundation. Morton also serves as Vice President of Player Development for Morton Golf.
“Having Tom on the bag really helped. It kind of just kept me in a good mode, I’d say just kind of plugging along. Not really getting too high, too low. That was kind of the game plan. I think he helped with that,” said Pollo.
Pollo was named as the most valuable player of the Sierra Foothill League for Whitney this past spring.
In announcing the University of Arizona’s 2022 Recruiting Class, in a report at arizonawildcats.com on Nov. 10, 2021, head coach Jim Anderson said “Zach is a fearless competitor and has posted many great rounds, including record-setting scores. His length off the tee is a huge asset that makes him a player that will continue excelling as the level of competition rises. He has persevered through his growth, experienced setbacks followed by success in junior golf, which makes him prepared for next climb as a college golfer. As a Sacramento native, he comes from an area where current and former players have shared great success at the University of Arizona. Golf is a true passion for Zach, but he shares athleticism and enthusiasm for other sports.”
McDermott Advances To U.S. Amateur
McDermott eagled No. 11 and had birdies on Nos. 3, 15 and 18 in the first round.
He eagled No. 3 and had birdies on Nos. 6, 11, 12 and 17 in the second round. “I played pretty well overall. I got off to a little bit of a slow start,” said McDermott. “The first round was pretty solid, just didn’t really make any mistakes. And then the second round I started off pretty bad. I dropped to 1-under for the tournament and had to claw my way back. That was a big moment for me. It all came down to my putting. My putting saved me at the end there.”
McDermott went into the qualifier coming off a great day of golf at Catta Verdera Country Club in Lincoln. He broke the course record, firing a spectacular 11-under-par 60 on July 17. “I had like the best round of my life,” said McDermott. “I just played really well. It was just an outrageous round. Everything seemed to go right. I was a little nervous, that I used up all my shots the day before. But I got it done.” McDermott said he was able to weather the nerves and emotions late in the day. The nerves definitely start kicking in on that last nine,” he said. “It’s good that now I’ve had my first year of college and I’ve played a lot of amateur events now. It’s good that I know what it’s like. I’ve been in that situation before. I know what to do. I’ve just got to stay with my own game and work through it. I think the heat is what caused a lot of people to drop off towards the end.”
McDermott’s mom, Jennifer McDermott, caddied for her son in the qualifier. “I’ve got to thank my mom for helping me out, because she was on the bag for a long time. I definitely would not have made it without her,” he said.
McDermott, named as the Player of the Year for the Junior Tour of Northern California’s 2018-19 season, played in 10 tournaments for Colorado during the 2021-22 season. His 72.52 scoring average ranked second on the team and is the third-best by a freshman in Colorado school history, according to cubuffs.com. “I’m really excited with where my game is at,” said McDermott, who plays out of Winchester Country Club in Meadow Vista. “Every part of my game is feeling very solid. So, I’m feeling very good going into the (U.S. Amateur) right now.”
McDermott finished third at the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Classic and tied for eighth at the Air Force’s Miranda Invitational during the fall season. McDermott played in the 111th California Amateur Championship at Big Canyon Country Club, in Newport Beach, and the 118th Trans-Miss Golf Tournament, at Denver Country Club, this summer. Last year, he won the Grapevine Amateur, a 54-hole Troon Saguaro Amateur Series event, at Silverado Resort and Spa’s North Course in Napa.
Westberg Advances To U.S. Amateur
Westberg has played very well for UC Davis, tying for 12th at this year’s Big West Conference Championship. Westberg was named as the Big West Conference Tri-Freshman of the Year in 2021.
Also in 2021, Westberg was named to the Big West Conference All-Academic Team and was selected as an All-American Scholar by the Golf Coaches Association of America. At the qualifier at Almaden, Westberg had birdies on Nos. 1, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 14 in the first round. Westberg eagled the ninth hole and had birdies on Nos. 10, 12 and 18.
Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016.
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