The strength of the North Shore’s young golf talent was never more evident than Monday afternoon. That's when Kernwood’s Christian Emmerich, 18, and Salem Country Club’s Steven DiLisio, 21, qualified for the United States Amateur championship at two different venues.
Both Swampscott residents, DiLisio gained medal honors at Longmeadow CC near Springfield with a blistering seven-under-par 133 total for the 36-hole test (66-67). Emmerich, newly graduated from St. Mary’s of Lynn High School, earned the third and final qualifying slot at the qualifier at Metacomet CC in East Providence after scoring 68-67-135, good for five under.
The pair are headed to famed Pinehurst for the main event August 12-18. DiLisio played last year at Pebble Beach and failed to make it to the 64-player match play field.
“I’m looking forward to a second chance at Pinehurst,” said DiLisio, who with Emmerich will be playing in next week’s Massachusetts Amateur at The Country Club starting Monday. “I feel good about my game right now.”
He surely should after shooting seven under for two rounds at Longmeadow, where he competed as a 15-year-old in the Massachusetts Amateur in 2013 and lost a playoff to reach match play. His game was rock solid all day – nine birdies and two bogeys, including a five-under-par start his opening nine.
“I was in control of my game throughout,” he said. “I put the ball in the fairway, had good angles into the pins, never got in trouble and made my share of putts. My game is in a good place.
"I’m satisfied with my progress since the NCAAs. There are always things to work on, ways to get better.”
DiLisio is a senior-to-be on the Duke University team that had a disappointing showing at the NCAA championship in Arkansas, but has four of the five starters returning, while Emmerich will be a freshman at Holy Cross come September.
Emmerich possesses a level of game currently which he has never experienced. Amazingly, he played an excellent Donald Ross-designed course in Metacomet which he had never seen before.
Additionally, he was unable to hit any practice shots before teeing it up. So he started the day stone-cold, as they say.
“My first tee shot was a little odd,” he revealed. “A 200-yard 5 iron on a par three, the 10th hole on the card. I made bogey.”
But he came back with birdies on two of the next three holes, was one under at the turn and birdied his final hole for 68.
“I knew I needed to shoot even lower the second round, based on the first round scores,” Emmerich said. “I thought I might need to get to six (under for the day) to get one of the three qualifying spots.”
He again made the turn one under par and admitted, “I was a little nervous. I had to get going the final nine.”
He did. A wedge to one foot on 11 and a 3 iron to 10 feet on the 240-yard 12th both converted to birdies. Emmerich wedged to a foot for another birdie on No. 15 and got to six under, but after making bogey on 18 with a wayward tee shot he expected to be in a playoff at five under 135, but it did not happen. He was sole No.3 qualifier.
“I think I’m getting more out of my practices these days,” Christian said. “And I have a different mindset, a higher level of. Confidence. I went out there at Metacomet trying to make as many birdies as possible.”
He made 10 with five bogeys in what was his first bid to qualify for the national championship for amateurs.
Now it’s off to Pinehurst for a these two standouts from Swampscott. Exciting stuff indeed.