SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With rounds of 69 and 71, Sacramento State's Riley Bell finished second at the US Amateur Qualifying tournament at Rancho Murieta Country Club on July 8. Bell's total of 140 left him at 2-under par for the tournament and earned him one of two berths to the US Amateur which will take place at Pinehurst on Aug. 11-18 in North Carolina.
"I took a Fourth of July vacation and didn't get back into town until a few days before the tournament so I didn't have high expectations," Bell said. "I had a good practice leading into the tournament and was very focused."
The start of Bell's tournament did not go as planned as the incoming sophomore double bogeyed the par-4 first hole. He steadied himself with a par on No. 2 and then rolled off three consecutive birdies on Nos. 3-5. A bogey on the par-4 sixth was followed by three pars and left him even midway through the first round. The Yuba City native made his surge during the early part of the back nine with birdies on the par-4 10th, the par-3 12th, the par-4 14th and par-5 15th. He ended the rounds with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 18 and a par on 17.
After a short break, he began the second round off the 10th tee with a par. A bogey on the par-4 11th took him to 1-over before he answered with three straight pars and a birdie on the par-5 15th. After two additional pars, he bogeyed No. 18 and made the turn at 1-over. Bell worked his way back into the red with an eagle on the par-4 first hole and a birdie on the par-5 third. He bogeyed Nos. 4 and 6 before closing with three straight pars.
"I knew I was tied for third after the first round which would give me a shot of advancing," Bell said. "After I eagled my 28th hole (NO. 1) is when I really started to think it could happen. I had used an iron on that hole in the first round and doubled so I decided to go for it, drove the green (340 yards) and made the 18-foot putt."
Bell's total left him one stroke off of Maximilian Morris of San Anselmo, Calif., who was the medalist. Fellow Hornet Eric Olsem shot 73-68-141 to tie for third place and is the second alternate for the US Amateur.
The US Amateur tournament will begin with single rounds of stroke play on Aug. 12-13 on Pinehurst No. 4 course. The top 64 players will move on to stroke place on Aug. 14 with the winners advancing to possibly play two rounds of stroke play on Aug. 15. The quarterfinal matches will take place on Aug. 16, the semifinals on Aug. 17 and the 36-hole final will be held on Aug. 18. The field will consist of 312 competitors. Match play will be held on the famed Pinehurst No. 2 which has hosted three US Opens and a pair of US Amateurs before this year.
"I don't know a lot about Pinehurst but I know that I need to stick to what I've been doing and be the best version of myself," Bell explained. "I'll keep working with my swing coach (Philip Dawson) and will also have Landon Azevedo caddying for me. He knows my game well and should keep me locked in.
"I also want to thank (Sacramento State sport psychologist) Dr. Gloria Petruzzelli who has helped me so much in golf and in life. I know I wouldn't be where I am without her. And Kamden Brakel who gave me the opportunity to develop and grow in the Sac State program."