Date: July 17, 2019
Author: Dave Tease

Garner books his Golden Ticket to Pinehurst

It may not be the chocolate factory of Willy Wonka fame, but for the Central Coast's Jordie Garner, it may as well be after qualifying for his first US Amateur Championship overnight.

The Central Coast buzzbox was like the proverbial kid in a candy shop after shooting rounds of 67 and 72 at Colleton River in South Carolina to book his place at Pinehurst for the 119th edition of the famed championship, which gets underway on August 12th.

But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the 19-year-old, who led by two after the first round. Nerves played their part and Garner had to endure a restless night between rounds.

"I'm pretty amped up," he said post-round with the official invitation in his hand.

Garner was in incredible form on day one, shooting the low round in the 130-player field.

"I was seriously like Tiger in round one. I literally was stumping everything every time had a wedge in my hand.

"I gave myself a heap of looks inside 10 feet and left about four out there too," he beamed.

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The second round was an altogether different affair, and Garner battled with the anticipation of what could be coming his way.

A slow start turned into a bad one very quickly, with three bogeys in his first seven holes.

"Yesterday was like a video game, and then today I didn't settle down. I didn't sleep.

"I was so nervous I was hitting cold tops.

"I just knew that I had to go out there and still play well, and yeah managed to fight so hard to get back."

And fight back he did. Garner eventually settled down and clawed his way back to even par for the day, good enough to finish third outright to grab the second last available place on offer.

"I said to myself I'm not going to finish like this, then just it turned into a mental battle and ground hard, and took advantage of the par fives."

"I really feel like I earned this invite with the fightback," he said with a grin.

Nathan Barbieri, who qualified for last year's US Amateur, was also in the field at Colleton River. Unluckily for the NSW state team representative, his two-under-par total was only good enough to grab an alternate place, and he will be relying on an unlikely withdrawal to take his place in the field.