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Ausherman makes good on break

MIddletown grad uses twist of fate to qualify for a berth in his third USGA championship field

MIddletown grad uses twist of fate to qualify for a berth in his third USGA championship field

June 28, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

When Derek Ausherman drained a 15-foot par putt on the first playoff hole at U.S. Amateur Public Links qualifying on June 17 at Manada Golf Club in Grantsville, Pa., and his opponent missed an eight-footer for birdie, Ausherman breathed new life.

"I was nervous, but I was excited (the par putt) went in," Ausherman, a 1998 graduate of Middletown, said. "I was just hoping he wouldn't make his birdie putt and we could go to another hole to give me another chance."

Ausherman took advantage of the second opportunity, making his own eight-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to finish second at the 36-hole qualifying event and advance to the Public Links championships at The Orchards Golf Club in Washington, Mich. on July 15-20.

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Ausherman shot 70-68 for a 6-under 138 total over the one-day stroke play qualifier to get him into the playoff.

Ausherman, who will transfer from Southern Mississippi to Jacksonville University on a golf scholarship in the fall, will make his third appearance in a USGA event. He's been in two U.S. Amateur championships, failing to make it through stroke play to the 64-man match play field both times.

"My biggest thing is to make it to the match play and go from there," Ausherman said. "You have to prepare yourself mentally and physically."

Ausherman expects the same kind of course setup at the Public Links championships, in which only golfers who are not members of private golf clubs may participate.

"I've learned before, at these USGA things you have to put a big emphasis on driving the ball and keeping it in the fairway," Ausherman said. "If you don't put it in the fairway, you can't score because the rough is so long."

Ausherman, who points to his putting as a key in his qualifying, believes his game is rounding into shape at just the right time.

"I've been playing rather well ever since I got home from school," Ausherman said. "I think I'll do pretty good."

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