Jake Knapp qualifies for U.S. APL Championship

Jake Knapp had to work overtime to qualify for his first United States Golf Assn. event.

The Estancia High senior competed in a playoff Monday at Los Serranos Golf and Country Club in Chino Hills. The U.S. Amateur Public Links Sectional Qualifying took four and Knapp was in a playoff for the final spot with two others that he knew.

Knapp, bound for UCLA, played against Ryann Ree of Redondo Beach and John Young Kim, a Los Alamitos native, in the playoff. Ree, a senior at Redondo Union, is bound for Oregon. Kim is a sophomore at Tulsa.

After 36 holes they were tied at 139 on the par-72 course. Knapp thought he could wrap it up on the first playoff hole, the 397-yard, par-four No. 10. He said he had a putt for birdie from about 12 feet out. But he missed and made par along with Ree and Kim.

On the 207-yard, par-three No. 9, none of the three made it onto the green on their second shot. Knapp chipped on to about six to eight feet out for par and sank it. Ree and Kim didn't make par.

Knapp will be playing in the 87th U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway, Utah July 9 through 14. The winner earns a spot in the Masters.

"I'm pretty excited," Knapp said during a phone interview Tuesday. "I tried last year and I didn't make it. I'm playing well right now. I really thought I could make it and I was happy that I played well.

"It wasn't easy … I've been in a couple of playoffs before. I felt a little more calm."

Knapp had to change his original plans set for the week of the U.S. APL Championship. Knapp was set to play in the Trans-Mississippi Championship at Oak Tree National in Oklahoma July 9 through 12.

Knapp is fine with the schedule change. He'll be playing in his first USGA event after showing his competitiveness during the qualifying at Los Serranos.

With five birdies and a bogey-free round, Knapp tied for the lowest score in the first round, 67, with Kim. Knapp then shot even in the second round. Ree went 68-71.

Chris Davis of Glendora won the qualifier, 68-68-136. Alex Bungert of Rancho Santa Margarita (70-67-137) and Xander Schauffele of San Diego (68-70-138) also qualified for the U.S. APL Championship.

Knapp remained excited Tuesday along with some other news that could be viewed as good for him. Patrick Cantlay, the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, left UCLA to turn pro.

"I kind of knew it was coming," Knapp said. "I didn't think he would turn pro this early. But I'm excited for him and I'm excited that it opens a spot on the [UCLA] team next year. He's a great player and he was going to do great things no matter when he turned pro. I think this is better for him."

Knapp graduates from Estancia on Thursday. Next week he competes in the 101st California Amateur Championship. The event begins Monday at La Cumbre Country Club in Santa Barbara.


Twitter: @SteveVirgen

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