After finishing his sophomore Summer courses early and foregoing finals week, Peter Williamson ’12 teed off at 1:20 p.m. on Monday at the USGA’s U.S. Amateur Championship. The tournament, which runs from Aug. 23-29, brings together 315 elite non-professional golfers at University Place, Wash.
Williamson is currently tied for 82nd place in the tournament, which is ongoing. He was two strokes over par at the end of the first day.
After he spent his summer taking classes, Williamson said he has not had much opportunity to practice for the tournament and that he is not as confident as he could be be.
“I guarantee he is the only one taking summer classes,” men’s golf head coach Rich Parker said. “He had just been trying to stay in touch with the game. It wouldn’t surprise me if he played great or if he played average.”
Williamson, however, said he had a few practices before the start of the tournament with several golfers including a previous USGA tournament winner whom he will now compete against in the tournament.
“I had two really good practice days, trying to get my game back into reasonable shape,” he said. “I got to play with a bunch of really good players during the last few days in the practice.”
Regardless of his limited preparations, Williamson said he still has high expectations for the tournament.
“I will go out there thinking I can win the tournament and if I don’t do great, it is experience,” he said. “I am pretty open-minded. If things go well, then hopefully I can keep the momentum going.”
The first two rounds of the tournament are stroke rounds after which the 64 golfers with the lowest scores advance to match play.
At 7,742 yards, the Chambers Bay Course, where the first round will be played, is the longest in USGA history. The second stroke round is then played on the 7,420-yard Home Course.
Match play is one-on-one bracket-style competition that lasts five or six days, according to Williamson.
“Hopefully, I will make it to match play and get to play one-on-one with the guys who are playing well,” he said. ” I think I can compete out here.”
The level of competition that Williamson will face at the tournament exceeds the competition level he normally faces in the Ivy League, he said.
“[The competition will be] nothing quite like the Dartmouth season,” he said. “This is the elite in the country it is the top golfers that are not professional.”
Williamson will also be joined by three familiar Ivy foes Tony Grillo of Harvard, Tom McCarthy of Yale and Evan Harmeling of Princeton.
“McCarthy and Grillo are [my] good friends,” Williamson said. “Harmeling is a good player and is re-emerging. I didn’t see him a lot last year. It will be fun to see how the other Ivy League people do.”
Williamson added that McCarthy tends to be the most competitive of the three other Ivy Leaguers, while Grillo, who is 5’7″, may struggle with the longer drives that the length of the tournament courses require.
At the USGA’s 2010 U.S. Public Links tournament in July, Williamson posted a score of 150 to tie for 85th place after the second round. The 7,218-yard course at the Champions Course at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C., was the third-longest course in that tournament’s history.
Any amateur golfer who belongs to a public course can try out for the Public Links tournament, though the most elite golfers tend to belong to private clubs, Williamson said.
At the 2009 U.S. Amateur Public Links tournament in Norman, Okla., Williamson finished the second round tied for 115th place with a score of 156.
Now halfway through his Dartmouth career, Williamson was named the 2009 Ivy League Rookie of the Year and 2009 Ivy League Player of the Year. In 2010, he received All-New England, first-team All-Ivy and Academic All-Ivy accolades.
Williamson cites his greatest accomplishment at Dartmouth as winning the Ivy League championship during his freshman year, when he outlasted Eric Salazar of Princeton in a sudden-death three-hole playoff.
“[Williamson] is, in my mind, the best player in the Ivy League,” Parker said. “This fall won’t be easy for him because of the summer he has had. He is an unbelievable team player.”