As consolation prizes go, getting to play in the 2024 Masters and U.S. Open is not the worst thing in the world.
Neal Shipley wanted more, of course. The Ohio State golfer wanted to win the men’s U.S. Amateur on Sunday at Cherry Hills Country Club near Denver, a feat that would have put him with Jack Nicklaus (1959, 1961) and John Cook (1978) as the only Buckeyes to accomplish it.
Shipley, a 22-year-old graduate student who played three years at James Madison before entering the transfer portal and signing with Ohio State last year, lost to Alabama sophomore Nick Dunlap 4 and 3. The two college players were tied after 18 holes of the 36-hole final until Dunlap went on a birdie tear in the afternoon session to win the 21st and 22nd holes to take the lead for good. He went 3-up through 25 holes and 4-up through 28, then walked it home with a solid putter. The 19-year-old becomes only the second male amateur to win both the U.S. Junior and U.S. Amateur. The other? Tiger Woods, who won three U.S. Juniors (1991-93) followed by three consecutive U.S. Amateurs (1994-96).
Pretty good company to keep for Mr. Dunlap.
Shipley, who became a crowd favorite with his long hair and laid-back style, will have to wait 12 months for another shot at the Am title. But what a year it’s going to be. By qualifying into the championship match, he earned a chance to rub elbows with the biggest names in golf at the 2024 Masters, as well as hit it around with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler at next year’s U.S. Open.
“Nick played phenomenal,” Shipley said of the birdie barrage. “I played great all day today. There’s not much can do when somebody does that to you.”
Shipley’s rise to the top of amateur golf has been somewhat sudden. He wasn’t even the top golfer for Ohio State; Maxwell Moldovan was No. 1 with a 70.64 scoring average. But Buckeyes coach Jay Moseley said Shipley’s form has improved immensely from the end of the college season in May to now.
“He’s worked hard at it,” Moseley said.
Shipley, who was seeded 47th (Dunlap was 41st) said he feels great about his game.
“I feel super confident that when I tee it up I can win now,” he said.
Source: The Columbus Dispatch