Smith, Bull advance to U.S. Amateur following long day at Coldwater Golf Links

West Des Moines’ Grant Smith (right) and Norwalk’s Dennis Bull qualified for the 123rd U.S. Amateur to be contested at Cherry Hills Country Club, Colorado. Smith was medalist outright at (-3) 139, while Bull (-2) qualified after a four-way playoff which took three holes to be decided.

The qualifier, contested at Coldwater Golf Links, Ames, featured golfers from numerous states. Whippy morning winds and firm conditions made for some of the most difficult play Coldwater has seen, evoking comparisons by a player to the Scottish links, and the grueling 36 holes tested competitors’ stamina.

Smith carded a first round (-1) 70 to keep himself in the mix. Most importantly, he felt comfortable with his shot selections going into the afternoon, despite the strong winds.

“I hit the right shots the first round, just didn’t make as many putts,” Smith said, explaining how he hit an 8 iron when 210 yards out on Hole 7 before subsequently hitting an 8 iron when 120 yards out on Hole 8. “Strategy was a big part [of my success]. I kept the ball in front of me and kept shots around the green going into the wind.”

In the afternoon, strong putting helped Smith to a superb 4-under first nine, helping him to finish -2 on the round and -3 on the day.

Smith commented he is excited to head to Colorado to compete in his first U.S. Amateur.

On the other hand, this was not Dennis Bull’s (right) first rodeo. Having qualified for the U.S. Amateur the previous two years, his experience showed when the second qualifying spot came down to a four person playoff. Ottumwa’s Cale Leonard, West Des Moines’ Braeden Nelson, and Clive’s Ryan Horner joined Bull in the four-for-one playoff, as if 36 holes wasn’t enough for the day. After Nelson and Horner were eliminated on the first playoff hole, Bull and Leonard tied on the second playoff hole, but Bull won decisively with a birdie on the third hole.

While happy to advance, Bull was more than ready to call it a day.

“Don’t make me walk too far,” he warned as we headed to take his photograph.

Bull will join Smith at Cherry Hills for his third straight U.S. Amateur.

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