BANDON — Wilson Furr knew he had caught a break in the scheduling in the 120th U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
The University of Alabama golfer from Jackson, Miss., had a morning tee time in the opening round of qualifying Monday, when the afternoon winds were so stiff the tee marker signs on some holes on the Bandon Dunes course were blown over. When Furr had an afternoon round Tuesday, the winds were extremely calm in relation.
“I saw in the weather today wasn’t supposed to be as tough as yesterday,” Furr said Tuesday night, adding that he told his dad and caddie Bill Furr that they needed to take advantage. “Clearly, we got a good draw and made the most of it.”
Furr, who had opened with a 2-under 70 at Bandon Dunes on Monday, broke the day-old course record at Bandon Trails with a 9-under 62 Tuesday to earn medalist honors in the tournament.
He won’t find out his opponent in the first round of match play until Wednesday morning, when 18 golfers battle for three spots in the 64-player bracket after they all tied at 2-over through the two qualifying rounds.
The cut line came lower than some expected, with both courses playing about two strokes easier Tuesday given the lower winds.
Furr is playing in his fourth U.S. Amateur, but advanced to match play for the first time.
He said he had a different perspective this time around. The other three times, he was focused on where the cut line would be. This time, he focused on where the leaders were on the scoreboard and aimed for that. It paid off when he posted 11 birdies in his round Tuesday.
“If you had told me that at the beginning of the day, I wouldn’t have believed it,” he said. “It kind of caught me off guard. I was playing great.”
He birdied three of the first four holes before a bogey on the par-3 fifth. But then he birdied four straight from No. 7 through No. 10 and then three more from No. 12 through No. 14.
The score could have been even better. He missed a short birdie putt on the par-5 16th and then took bogey on No. 17 after he had a plugged lie in a bunker with his tee shot. He rebounded with a birdie on 18. to break the competitive course record of 64 at Bandon Trails that had been set Monday by Aman Gupta and matched earlier Tuesday by Charles “Ollie” Osborne.
When he finished, it looked like Furr would run away with medalist honors, but another afternoon starter, Michigan State golfer James Piot, was putting up a big score at Bandon Dunes.
Piot eagled both the down-wind par-5 holes, the ninth and 13th, and had birdies on both No. 17 and No. 18 to shoot a 7-under 65 at Bandon Dunes and finish second at 9-under.
Piot said he was sending his friends back in Michigan texts predicting the cut to be 6- or 7-over after two windy practice rounds.
“Today was kind of dead out there on the Dunes Course, which I was really surprised about because like I said, the practice round was nasty,” he said in an interview with USGA. “I just took full advantage of it.”
Ben Shipp of North Carolina State had a birdie-eagle finish on the Bandon Dunes course to also finish strong and take third at 8-under.
Gupta and first-round co-leader McClure Meissner both struggled some Tuesday after posting scores of 64 on Monday, but easily advanced to match play. Gupta, who was a last-minute addition to the tournament, posted a 1-over 73 at Bandon Dunes, while Meissner had a good round going at Bandon Trails until a double-bogey and two bogeys late led to a 74. That left him tied for seventh with a couple other notable players — 2019 runner-up John Augunstein and Scott Harvey, who teamed with Todd Mitchell to win the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship last year at the resort.
Harvey had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the front nine at Bandon Dunes and shot a 67. The second-best round of the day at Bandon Dunes came from another player who was in last year’s tournament, Stewart Hagestad, who had five birdies on the back nine and eight overall in a 6-under 66 that moved him into a tie for 11th.
Also advancing to match play was Oregon State golfer Spencer Tibbits of Vancouver, Wash., who followed his opening round of 2-under at Bandon Dunes with a 3-over 74 at Bandon Trails that got him safely into match play.
His Oregon State teammate Carson Barry wasn’t so successful, missing the cut with a two-round total of 12-over.
Also failing to advance to match play was defending champion Andy Ogletree, who finished a shot out of the playoff when he wasn’t able to sustain a strong start that included an eagle and birdie in his first five holes at Bandon Dunes, followed immediately by a double bogey and two bogeys.
Blake Taylor, who was runner-up with his partner at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball last summer, finished 4-over to also miss the cut along with 2019 Walker Cup team members Cole Hammer and John Pak.
For the first time, Furr is not part of the group going home early, and he said a lot of credit for that goes to his dad.
“He’s great,” Furr said. “He doesn’t read putts. He doesn’t talk strategy. But he understands me. He’s done a real good job keeping me focused.”
Furr and his parents, Bill and Denise, are enjoying their first trip to the resort.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “It’s so cool.
“We love the (links) style. Me and my dad were talking about it — this place is special.”
He hopes to continue his strong run in match play, where someone will win six matches over the next five days, including the 36-hole final on Sunday, to be crowned champion.
If Furr isn’t able to accomplish that, at least he will go home with the medal he earned for the low qualifying total and the new course record at Bandon Trails.
“It’s super cool,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it.”