- Published on Tuesday, 03 August 2004 20:42
- Written by Pete Borello - Town Crier Staff Writer
Michael Jensen is looking forward to starting school at UC Berkeley, though he may not be there as soon as originally planned. At least, he hopes not.
That's because the Los Altos resident plans to be on the opposite coast in two weeks playing in the United States Amateur Golf Tournament.
"If I do well enough, I'll miss my move-in day at Cal," he said. "Hopefully, that's the case."
Jensen and his former St. Francis High teammate, Joseph Bramlett, both made the U.S. Amateur by finishing in the top three at a 36-hole qualifier held last week in Menlo Park. Bramlett placed second with a 4-under par 140 and Jensen was third with a 2-under 142. Eighty golfers participated in the July 26 qualifier, played at Sharon Heights Golf & Country Club.
"There were fast greens - faster than usual - but pretty good," Jensen said of his home course. "Hit a good putt, and it would go in."
The greens also agreed with Bramlett, playing the 6,837-yard course for only the fourth time.
"It was really nice," said the St. Francis junior, who sank a 40-foot putt for birdie. "It was nice to know good putts would go in."
Almost everything was going in for Bramlett during his final round, as the 16-year-old shot a tournament-best 67. The Saratoga resident got off to a sizzling start, with birdies on holes 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 to go 5-under. Bramlett bogeyed holes 9 and 10, then rallied with birdies on 14 and 18.
"I kept hitting good shots, like I did most of the day, and birdies just happened to fall," said Bramlett, recovering nicely from a first-round 73 that put him four shots off the lead.
That lead belonged to Jensen, who shot a 69. The 18-year-old posted four birdies and only one bogey. Jensen's final round started well - with an eagle on No. 3 - but soon took a turn for the worse. He scored a nine on the par-5 fifth hole.
"I had tree trouble," he said.
Jensen admitted such a horrendous hole used to stick with him, but he's learning to let it go.
"I was a little upset," he said, "but I got over it pretty quickly."
Jensen birdied 8, then finished strong with birdies on 16 and 18. This left him with a 1-over 73. His two-round score was two strokes ahead of the fourth-place finisher.
"I never qualified for the (U.S.) Junior Amateur, and this will be my first time in the U.S. Amateur," he said. "I'm really excited to play back there."
The U.S. Amateur is scheduled for Aug. 16-22 at the famed Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y. The field of 312 golfers will compete in 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying the first two days, with the top 64 moving on to match play.
Bramlett and Jensen, who both helped St. Francis win the Northern California championship last spring, plan to play a few practice rounds together prior to the U.S. Amateur.
Bramlett is not new to the event, having qualified two years ago. At 14, he was the youngest player to ever compete in the U.S. Amateur but failed to get beyond stroke play. Bramlett missed qualifying for last year's tournament by one stroke.
Bramlett is confident his past experience at the U.S. Amateur will prove beneficial.
"It should help; I know what to expect. There's not a bad player in the field," he said. "I hit a lot longer than two years ago, so length won't be an issue."
Jensen said that if he doesn't advance to match play, he intends to stick around a few days to watch the tournament. Then it's off to Cal, where he will begin playing for a team that captured the NCAA title this past season.
Chris Jensen at Jr. Am
Jensen's younger brother Chris, 16, placed ninth in the 36-hole qualifier at the U.S. Junior Amateur Championships, then lost in the first round of match play. The event took place July 19-24 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Jensen, a junior at St. Francis, earned an invitation to the under-17 tournament by winning a U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifier July 5 at Stanford Golf Course.
Green misses the cut
Los Altos resident George Green, 55, missed the cut at last week's U.S. Senior Open.
He shot 83 and 86 in his qualifying rounds at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. Green was one of only five Northern Californians invited to the event.