Spring Grove’s Jordan Hahn feared his best opportunity yet at playing in the U.S. Amateur was slipping away after shooting 2-over-par through 13 holes in the last round of a qualifier July 23 at White Deer Run in Vernon Hills.
“I looked over at my instructor (PGA professional Kiel Alderink) and my caddie and said, ‘We’ve got to step on the gas a little bit,’” said Hahn, who had a 6-under 66 in the first round to lead the 90-golfer field.
“It’s now or never.”
Hahn responded with four birdies in the last five holes, placing second overall with a two-round total of 8-under-par 136 and claiming one of three spots in the 119th U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in the village of Pinehurst, North Carolina, which starts Monday.
Lake Bluff’s Andrew Price beat Hahn, a 2015 Richmond-Burton graduate, for first place with a 9-under-par 135. The top three finishers automatically advance.
Hahn failed to qualify in three previous attempts. Crystal Lake’s Ethan Farnam, now a junior at St. Mary’s College of California, was the last local golfer to play in the U.S. Amateur four years ago.
Crystal Lake’s Lexi Harkins qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2016.
Hahn will be one of 312 golfers playing in the nation’s most prestigious amateur championship, including 49 of the top 50 players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
“It meant the world to me,” Hahn said of qualifying for his first U.S. Amateur. “That was the whole goal of my summer. ... All around, my game is feeling good, and I feel like it’s peaking at the right time. I’m excited to try it out and put it to the test.”
Hahn will tee off 7:18 a.m. Monday on the 7,555-yard, par-70 Pinehurst Course No. 2. He’ll then navigate the 7,219-yard, par-70 Pinehurst Course No. 4. on Tuesday, after which the 312-player field will be cut to 64 for match play, which starts Wednesday and ends Sunday.
Placing in the top two at the U.S. Amateur gives a golfer exemption for the Masters and the U.S. Open. Golfers, however, have to maintain their amateur status for a full year in order to compete.
Hahn is making his first trip to Pinehurst, which previously has hosted the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, and will get two practice rounds Saturday and Sunday.
“I just want to get a good feel for the golf course when I get there and learn as much about it as I can,” Hahn said. “I’ve heard a lot of great things, and I’ve also heard it’s a big challenge near the greens.”
The 6-foot-6 Hahn, who has aspirations to turn professional, doesn’t want to look too far ahead.
He recently finished a brilliant four-year career at Wisconsin with the best single-season scoring average in school history (71.68). Hahn also became the first Wisconsin golfer since 2009 to play in the postseason, finishing in a tie for 35th with a 218 (5-over-par) at the 54-hole NCAA Regional Championship in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Hopefully I have a good week of golf,” Hahn said. “Earning those exemptions, obviously, that’s why everybody goes there. Those are big accomplishments for any golfer.
“The only thing I can control is putting in the work and having fun. If I can go out there and have fun, chances are I’ll play all right. So that’s my main goal, go out, have fun and be loose, and just enjoy it.”