KSU pair's fortunes split in Public Links qualifying
by Carlton D. White
June 08, 2011 12:20 AM | 980 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON - Kennesaw State's Greg O'Connor and Matt Nagy played 18 holes of Tuesday's U.S. Amateur Public Links qualifier at Woodmont Golf and Country Club.

They then realized they had another round to play in the afternoon.

"I wish I had known that before I got here," O'Connor said.

Fortunately for the rising junior, the extra golf didn't hold him back. O'Connor fired a second-round 70 to finish with a 5-under 139 and qualified for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, which will be held June 27-July 2 at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore.

"Other than signing my scholarship to Kennesaw State, this is probably the best moment of my golf career," said O'Connor, who carded a 69 in the first round to put himself in position for the strong finish. "I'm pretty happy. I thought I did pretty well. I got tired at the end and a little dehydrated, but I putted well. Even though I hit a few bad shots, the putter saved me."

Joining O'Connor in Oregon will be Taylor Smith, who shot 7-under 137 (69-68) to claim medalist honors and Georgia Tech's Minghao Wang who also shot 139 (68-71).

"I thought it was a good score," O'Connor said. "I thought it could hold up, but I really wanted to get to 6 under. I thought 6 under would get me in for sure. I got lucky with a couple of guys who shot low (Tuesday) morning not playing so well in the afternoon and got into it.

"It was nerve-racking waiting for the scores to come in. I put in a hard day's work. I was tired and didn't want to go back out there to play a playoff hole to get a spot, but I got lucky and got a spot in the Public Links."

Nagy, however, did need a playoff to determine his position as an alternate. Nagy, who eagled the par-5 ninth hole to close out his second round, shot 4-under 140 to tie Sepp Straka for one of two alternate positions. The Kennesaw State golfer went on to defeat Straka, a recent high school graduate from Valdosta, on the second playoff hole to win the first alternate's position.

"I wasn't happy at all with my performance," Nagy said. "I had eight penalty shots (Tuesday), and I missed three putts inside of 3 feet, so that's 11 shots I just wasted. I made a ton of birdies that kept me in it and had an eagle on the last hole. It was fun out there, but I could have done better."

Nagy has had a very busy start to the month. He joined his Kennesaw State teammates at the NCAA championships much of the last two weeks in Oklahoma, then participated in Monday's U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Ball Ground.

Nagy's schedule now includes lots of rest.

"It's the biggest tournaments," he said of the hectic schedule. "You make it to the Public Links and win that tournament, then you're going to the Masters. The NCAA championships was Kennesaw State's first, and I have to play in that. U.S. Open is one of the four majors and basically, those three tournaments, you can't miss out on any of those, so that's why I chose to do it.

"Hopefully, now I can just rest. I plan on taking a few days off, probably a week, and either lay in my bed or hang out on a beach. We'll just have to see."

Other locals in the field included Marietta's Peter Dash (155), Smyrna's Charles Lutz (156) and Marietta's Brian Hillman (163).
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