Pub Links past champions surprised

Trevor Immelman
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The 1998 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, Trevor Immelman, was surprised by the USGA's decision to end the almost century-old event. Like all past champions, Immelman has fond memories of the tournament.
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013 | 6:18 p.m.

The USGA’s recent announcement that one of its oldest championships, the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, would be eliminated after 2014 caught a lot of people off guard, including some of the event’s most prominent past champions.

“I must say I was definitely caught by surprise,” said Trevor Immelman, who won the Pub Links at Torrey Pines in 1998.“ After reading through the release I understand what they’re saying. Back in the day, the Pub Links was for people who were not members of the USGA because only members of the USGA were allowed to enter the U.S. Amateur. Now that all those rules have changed and anyone can enter the U.S. Amateur and compete, there really is no need for the Pub Links. But, man, there is such a great history behind that tournament.”

Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Moore, Billy Mayfair, Tim Clark and D.J. Trahan all won the Pub Links, but the event also showcased such colorful champions as Omer Bogen and Smiley Quick. Reactions have varied, but all living champions are wistful that an event dating back to 1922 is being kicked to the curb.

“I’m sure they have their reasons,” Immelman said. “Maybe the casual observer doesn’t realize how many tournaments they put on between the men’s and women’s Amateurs, the U.S. Junior, the Mid-Amateurs, it is quite a busy schedule, so I guess they’re trying to figure out what to keep and what to get rid of so they can grow. That’s the tricky part. Change is difficult for everybody. [The Pub Links] is almost 100 years, so that part of it is tricky, because people obviously have an emotional attachment to it.”

For years the Pub Links has not only allowed public course golfers their own championship, it has given top-flight amateurs another avenue to earn an invitation to the Masters. That is how Immelman made his first trip to Augusta National in 1999.
 
“It was always a goal of mine to play in the Masters as an amateur,” he said. “I lost in the finals of the British Amateur the year before, which was devastating, but [the Pub Links] provided me with another avenue to earn an invitation.”
 
Now that avenue will be gone.
 
“Augusta National has the tournament in Asia [the Asia Pacific Amateur] now, so there’s another chance for an amateur to play in the Masters,” Immelman said. “It’s the USGA’s call. Like I say, I was surprised when I heard about it, but it’s one of those things.”  
  
 
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