By Dalton Balthaser
EAST PROVIDENCE - Davis Chatfield was the medalist at last year’s U.S. Amateur qualifier administered by the Rhode Island Golf Association at Pawtucket Country Club.
If it isn’t broke don’t fix it, right?
Chatfield kept his form and medaled in this year’s #USAmateur qualifier at Metacomet Golf Club (par 70, 6,475 yards) Monday with a 36-hole total of 7-under-par 133. Canada’s Etienne Brault (134) and incoming College of Holy Cross freshman Christian Emmerich (135) were the other two to punch a ticket to the Championship Proper.
The 119th U.S. Amateur will take place from Aug. 12-18 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Village of Pinehurst, N.C.
“Playing in these big events is all about experience,” said Chatfield, 20, of Attleboro, Mass. “You learn new things each time you play in events like these. Pinehurst will be a different experience for me because it is a type of golf course that I am not familiar with. I learned a lot at Pebble Beach last year on how to compete with the best. I feel like I belong this year.”
After carding a 66 in the morning round, the rising junior at the University of Notre Dame backed it up with a 67.
Starting his second round on the back nine, Chatfield birdied Nos. 15 (par 4, 391 yards) and 18 (par 4, 351 yards) after making putts of 30 and 15 feet, respectively.
Knowing he had to play his last three holes in 2 under to secure medalist honors, Chatfield did what he had to do.
He birdied No. 7 (par 3, 160 yards) after a smooth 8-iron to 15 feet. The Wannamoisett Country Club member sealed the deal with a tidy chip to four feet on No. 9 (par 5, 463 yards).
This is Chatfield’s second consecutive appearance in the U.S. Amateur. Last year, he made match play and made it to the Round of 32 where he lost to decorated Mid-Am Stewart Hagestad, 4&3.
“I know exactly what to expect moving forward,” said Chatfield. “I’ve put thousands of hours into golf and I can’t seem to get away from it. There’s something that keeps me coming back each time. You can’t perfect golf but you can get a little better each time you come out and play. That’s satisfying.”
Brault had a fire lit beneath him after he had a rough finish to his college career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Like Chatfield, Brault will be playing in consecutive U.S. Amateur Championships.
“How I finished at Chattanooga definitely motivated me,” said Brault, 23, of Mercier, Canada. “I knew I was much better than that. I loved my teammates but I just wasn’t comfortable without being with my family and friends back home. I have been improving so much at home and I never really played my best in college. I decided to grind it out after I graduated. I hit thousands of balls every day and worked on certain things. Then it all clicked.”
Yes, it did.
Brault Monday qualified for this year’s RBC Canadian Open. Although he missed the cut, he was still the low Canadian.
“When I played in the U.S. Amateur last year, I thought golf doesn’t get much better than that,” said Brault. “Then I qualified for the RBC Canadian Open and I didn’t want to go back to the amateur ranks.”
Brault shot rounds of 66 and 68 to punch his ticket to the Tar Heel State.
Fueled by plenty of experience on Donald Ross-designed golf courses, Brault used a total of 12 birdies to advance.
While at Chattanooga, Brault played frequently at Chattanooga Golf & Country Club, which was designed by Ross.
“Metacomet was the closest qualifier to where I am in Canada,” said Brault. “The course looked great when I looked it up and was in great shape for the event. I am a huge fan of Donald Ross designs. They suit my eye.”
Just like Brault, Emmerich was fueled by previous shortcomings. A failed attempt to get into the U.S. Junior Amateur in his last year of eligibility was in the center of his dart board.
He carded rounds of 68 and 67 to get the third and final spot. Pinehurst’s famous “Putter Boy” will be waiting patiently.
“Qualifying for the U.S. Amateur is a big deal for me,” said Emmerich, 18, of Swampscott, Mass. "Playing well today was important because I was angry after missing the U.S. Junior Amateur. I practiced a lot harder for this event."