K-State's Watkins Rolls Into Round of 32 At U.S. Amateur
Aug. 21, 2002
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Kansas State's Aaron Watkins cruised into the second round of match play at the 2002 U.S. Amateur Wednesday with an easy 5-and-4 win over Tulsa's Chris Noel.
The Wildcat junior-to-be jumped out to an early lead, played consistently throughout the round and never looked back.
"Coming in I really did not have any expectations," Watkins said. "I was happy just qualifying for the tournament. I'm excited to be in the round of 32 and every day I get to play from here on is an extra bonus and I'll give it my best shot tomorrow and see if I can't make it to the afternoon (round)."
Watkins played even-par over the opening four holes, then birdied No. 5 to go 4 up heading into No. 6. In the meantime, Noel struggled with the famed South Course at the Oakland Hills Country Club, settling for bogeys on 1 and 5 and posting double bogeys on 2 and 4.
"(Noel) got off to a bad start and started hitting it into the deep rough and making bogeys," said Watkins. "I was able to take advantage of it by keeping the ball on the fairway and hitting greens for pars. I've been able to keep the ball in the fairway all week and it gave me the advantage today."
Noel recovered to pull within three holes of Watkins at the turn. But the K-State product never allowed him back in the match. Watkins shot even par the rest of the way, moving back to 5 up after the opening two holes on the back nine then maintaining his lead for the 5-and-4 victory.
Watkins was amazingly consistent on the day, hitting all but two fairways and three greens through the 14-hole match. Teammate Bryan Milberger, who just missed the cut at the conclusion of Tuesday's stroke play competition, served as his caddy.
The Wildcat junior-to-be will meet Conner Robbins of Washington in Thursday's round of 32. The pair will hit the links at approximately 8 a.m. (CST). Should Watkins advance, his round of 16 match would tee off at 1:10 p.m. (CST).
2002 U.S. Amateur Championship
Match Play - First Round