PINEHURST — Brandon Wu took a quick look around the practice putting green at the spacious Pinehurst Resort on Tuesday and marveled at his surroundings.
“I love this place,” said Wu, who will be among the players favored next month at the 119th U.S. Amateur championship at Pinehurst No. 2 and No. 4.
Wu, who graduated from Stanford earlier this summer and finished tied for 35th at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, has resisted the lure of turning pro because he wants to make a run at playing on the United States team in the Walker Cup. The Walker Cup, which is similar to the Ryder Cup, is a two-day event held in odd-number years featuring amateur players from the United States and Great Britain and Ireland.
So, remaining an amateur has been a priority.
Wu, who was born in Danville, Calif., will play next week in the Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland and then is scheduled to play in two more tournaments before the U.S. Amateur.
The U.S. Amateur will be played Aug. 12-18 at Pinehurst Resort. It’s the third time the resort has played host to the tournament. The previous two times were in 1962 and 2008.
For those hoping to qualify for the Walker Cup team, the U.S. Amateur places a lot on the line.
“The team will be final the day after the U.S. Amateur ends so I really need to make a good showing in that tournament,” Wu said. “For a lot of guys, if you are on the bubble playing well in the U.S. Am could put you on the team.”
Also making a push to play in the Walker Cup is Cameron Young, a recent graduate of Wake Forest who also will be in the 312-player field for the U.S. Amateur.
One of the subtle differences for the U.S. Amateur this year will be the tweaking of the format for the 36-hole final. For the first time, the championship match, which will be broadcast by Fox on Aug. 18, will utilize two courses. The first 18 holes will be played on Pinehurst No. 4, which was renovated by Gil Hanse, and then the match moves to Pinehurst No. 2, the famous Donald Ross design that also will play host to the U.S. Open in 2024.
“You can kind of get bored playing the same 18 holes again so I like that idea,” Wu said. “If they are looking to find the best player then having to perform on two different courses in that championship match is a great test.”
Hanse, a highly regarded course designer, has transformed No. 4 into a championship caliber course. He’s excited about the opportunity to showcase his renovation.
“I think the players will like what they see,” said Hanse, who also designed a spectacular par-3, nine-hole course not far from the practice putting green. “We wanted it to be similar to No. 2 but those green complexes are so good that you can’t duplicate it. We are thrilled with how No. 4 took shape.”
The U.S. Amateur field has 312 golfers. After two rounds of stroke play, the top 64 golfers advance to match play. Wu knows he’s got a lot of work to do. He didn’t make it out of the stroke-play portion last year when the tournament was held at Pebble Beach.
Even though he’s focused on his amateur career, the 22-year-old Wu is paying attention to what his peers are doing on the PGA Tour.
Matthew Wolff, who is 20 years old and has already turned pro, won the 3M Championship in just his third start as a professional. He out-dueled PGA Tour veteran Bryson DeChambeau and 22-year-old Collin Morikawa, who recently graduated from Cal Berkley.
“Collin and Matt are two of my buddies so it’s great to see them do well out there on the PGA Tour already,” Wu said. “It shows how advanced these guys are.”