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Hudson grad advances to US Open

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: July 12, 2017 12:00 AM
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If you listen to Will Kurtz talk, you might think he is one of the most pessimistic people around.

The 2017 Hudson graduate is often critical of himself when it comes to his experiences on the golf course.

He'll tell you his putting stroke and short game leave a lot left to be desired.

He also has been extremely unhappy with his driver and iron play in recent months.

Despite all of his so-called holes in his game, Kurtz has proven to be one of the best golfers in the state for the last three years.

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On July 5, Kurtz took his extraordinary skills to another level.

You can now consider Kurtz to be one of the best amateur golfers in the nation.

The 18-year-old Kurtz finished second at a US Amateur qualifier July 5 at The Ohio State University Scarlet Course in Columbus.

Kurtz, who plans to continue his academic and golfing careers at Kent State University, advanced to the 117th US Amateur Championship, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 14 to 20 at Riviera Country Club and Bel-Air Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Kurtz shot an even-par 142 (69-73). The top three golfers advanced to the US Amateur Championship.

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Stow-Munroe Falls graduate Ian Holt, a rising senior at Kent State, won the qualifier with a 1-under 141 (71-70).

Also advancing was Dublin resident Camden Solomon, who shot a 2-over 144 (71-73).

While he was thrilled to advance, Kurtz, to no one's surprise, didn't feel particularly comfortable about his game.

Such uneasiness continues to lead to great things, so why change?

"I was pretty nervous the last two holes," Kurtz said. "I bogeyed the last two holes. I thought I had a better chance at two other qualifiers, but I didn't make it. I didn't expect to make it out because this one is a lot tougher. This one had college players."

Kurtz, who won the Division I state title for the Explorers in 2015, finished third at the 2016 state competition. He also placed sixth at the 2014 state meet.

With Kurtz leading the way, Hudson reached the state tournament as a team in 2014 and 2016.

"They were the best times," Kurtz said of his time with the Explorers. "It was more fun to go down with the whole team. I'll never get to experience that again."

Despite his bronze medal and the success of his team last fall, Kurtz -- surprise -- felt his game was out of whack throughout the season.

"Typically, my putting and my short game are my weaknesses," he said. "The best part of my game is my irons and driver, but they also have been sketchy."

Kurtz recently experienced some heartbreak on his home course.

He had a two-stroke lead with five holes to go at the Hudson Junior Invitational, which concluded June 29 at the Country Club of Hudson.

Unfortunately, Kurtz ended up finishing second for the second consecutive year.

"It was disappointing because it's my home tournament," he said. "Now that I've had time to think about it, this [the US Amateur] trumps it."

The US Amateur Championship features 312 of the top amateur golfers. There will be two rounds of stroke play and the top 64 golfers from stroke play will compete in match play.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Kurtz said. "I would like to make it to the top 64. I think I can do it if I shoot around par."

Kurtz wasn't expecting much from himself at the US Amateur Qualifier. Besides his shaky play in recent weeks, Kurtz hadn't spent much time on the golf course prior to the event.

He also recently engaged himself in an activity that proved to be a bit taxing on his body.

"I took a little vacation three days before the tournament," Kurtz said. "I went tubing. I wasn't playing well and I hadn't practiced. I also was sore from my vacation. After all that, I was better when I played."

Kurtz believes he can make a lasting impression on the West Coast next month.

And of course, he also feels that his game is -- you guessed it -- nowhere near its potential.

"I definitely think I can improve," Kurtz said. "Even though I qualified, I still feel I could have played better."

Such is the life of a true perfectionist.

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