It was one of the longest waits of Dawson Anders’ golf career.
The Souderton graduate, who is heading into his junior year on Temple’s golf team, sat in the Cedarbrook County Club clubhouse on July 15 simply waiting and watching scores come in. With just two spots at the US Amateur Championship at stake, Anders could wait to see if his six-under score would hold up.
Finally, after about two hours of waiting, the final score came in and Anders had held his spot.
Now in North Carolina, Anders is using the weekend to prepare for the US Amateur, which starts on Monday from Pinehurst Country Club.
“I had one group left where I knew if a specific guy came in with a certain number, I’d be in a playoff or lose my spot but thankfully, a six-under was enough and that wait was worth it,” Anders said Friday. “I was calm while I was at the course but once I got in the car with my brother (Clay, his caddie), we started freaking out, playing music and getting hype. Once I got home, I drove to Temple to celebrate with some friends.”
Anders is the first Temple player to qualify for the US Amateur since current assistant coach Matt Teesdale, a Hatboro-Horsham graduate, and Brandon Matthews did so in 2014.
The qualifier was the highlight so far of what’s been an extremely golf-filled summer for the Telford resident. While it’s only been about a month since he made the field for the US Amateur, Anders didn’t slow down much.
“I played six or seven tournaments in the span of three or four weeks, so I took a few days off to just recover but the last week or so after my break, I’ve just been honing my game,” Anders said. “I do love playing tournaments but it did get to the point where it was too much golf. By my 20th tournament round in three weeks, I was exhausted and I knew it was time to give myself a break.”
Anders placed 12th in the Eastern Amateur that ran July 11-14, giving him some momentum going into the single-day qualifier on July 15. With a field of 71 very good players vying for just two spots, the 36-hole stroke play event was going to be a major test.
The Temple junior ended up edging Matt Mattare by just a single stroke for the final qualifying spot. Also in the field were Temple teammates Buddy Hansen (La Salle), Conor McGrath (Academy of the New Church) and Liam McGrath (ANC) along with former Owls Matt Crescenzo (Cheltenham) and Erik Reisner.
At Cedarbrook, a course he likes playing, Anders carded rounds of 70 and 68 for a 138 total that put him in second place behind the 166 of eventual event winner Kyle Sterbinsky, a redshirt senior at Wake Forest from Yardley. Anders said his start was a little rough, but he finished the day strong including a three-under flourish on the final nine holes.
“My goal was to get to six-under but it started out that I missed four or five easy birdie opportunities in my first few holes, which frustrated me and then I had a bogey and I was sitting over par when I knew I should have been under it,” Anders said. “I kept grinding, my last nine I went three-under and bogey-free to clinch it by one (stroke) so that was a big confidence boost.”
Throughout the summer, Anders said he feels his game inside 150 yards and especially on wedges has been really solid and thanks to work with his coach Brian Quinn, he’s been able to drive the ball straight and consistent. On top of that, his older brother Clay has been able to caddie for him most of the summer and they’ve been reading courses well together.
Getting back on track at the qualifier was a result of continuing to hit good shots and create chances to get birdies. Heeding his coach’s advice that it wasn’t the number of birdies he hit but the number of birdie opportunities he created, Anders kept plugging away at the short game until it fell his way.
“When there’s only two spots, my mentality is to go all for it,” Anders said. “Attack the pins when you can but don’t make any dumb shots or double (bogeys), just focus on the five-footers for birdie and keep your round going.”
The US Amateur begins with rounds of stroke play Monday and Tuesday before a cut to the top 64. From there, the rest of the week is spent in match play down to the championship round on Sunday, August 18.
In 2014, Teesdale advanced to the match play portion and Anders has leaned on his assistant coach for some advice.
“He told me it’s a marathon and not a sprint,” Anders said. “He said I don’t want to come out and bang balls around for five hours every day leading up because all you do is exhaust yourself. So today, I hit for about an hour then worked on chipping, putting, stretching and working out a little bit.”
After what he called a bit of a rough sophomore year that saw him transition through a couple swing changes, Anders is excited about what his run of play this summer can do going into his junior year. Finishing it out at the top amateur tournament of the season is only a massive added bonus.
“I’m feeling pretty confident, I think my game is in a good spot to compete,” Anders said. “I’m trying to stay low mentally, not get too caught up in my own head and just focusing on playing when the time comes.”