JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Johns Creek resident Preston DeSantis will join a field of some of the world’s top amateur golfers next week in the 2019 U.S. Amateur Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
The tournament, which has fielded such notables as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Mark O’Meara, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar, takes place Aug. 12-18.
DeSantis, 19, earned a spot in the tournament July 23 by posting the low round of a qualifying tournament at Jennings Mill Country Club in Bogart, Georgia.
“It’s been a roller coaster of a ride and a dream to get to the amateur championship,” DeSantis said. “Going into the qualifying tournament, I knew it was maybe the biggest event of my career. It was great for my game to come together on an event that I felt was the biggest [tournament] I could play.”
The Marist graduate shot a 9-under par 135 over the two-day qualifying tournament at Jennings Mill, which put him tied for low-medalist with Jansen Preston of Kentucky.
DeSantis said the course played to his strengths.
“I’m used to playing tight courses around residential areas with out of bounds very close to the fairways,” he said. “I was comfortable and felt like I was home.”
DeSantis got off to a hot start, opening the first day with an eagle and birdie on his first two holes of the tournament. That momentum carried on through the first day with DeSantis leading the field after 18 holes after shooting 6-under par 66.
“I knew at that point I wanted to keep it that way and avoid the stress of a playoff,” he said. “I was able to keep it going and make minimal mistakes.”
Despite the pressure of leading the field going into the second round, DeSantis said he was relaxed and was not trying to force any shots. He compiled five birdies and two bogies in the second day for a 4-under par 68 to tie for the tournament win and punch his ticket to Pinehurst.
DeSantis, a rising sophomore at Berry College and a member of the golf team, said he is eagerly awaiting his chance to play in the prestigious amateur championship at the well-known country club.
“It’s going to be awesome for me, there are so many people supporting me and making the trip,” DeSantis said. “Everyone I’ve talked to has told me that [United States Golf Association] events are so special and that I shouldn’t worry about golf and just soak it all in. I know the whole Pinehurst village is an incredible area, so I’m going to enjoy it and just let the golf happen.”
While he will enter the tournament with a relaxed disposition, DeSantis is still focused on a good showing. He hopes to make the cut after day two of stroke play to earn one of 64 spots available in match play.
“Anything can happen in match play, it doesn’t matter if you are playing the No. 1 guy,” he said. “Reaching match play is my goal, and I think I can accomplish that by just continuing to do what I’ve been doing.”