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omar morales

Who is the amateur turning heads at the US Open?

Omar Morales caused a bit of a stir on the opening day at Los Angeles Country Club. Here’s what you need to know about the UCLA sophomore
 

We wondered if home comforts would suit Collin Morikawa at Los Angeles Country Club.

The two-time major champion may have grown up in the City of Angels, and posted a 4-0 record at LACC in the 2017 Walker Cup, but, for a while, he was upstaged by a 20-year-old who can almost call the course his second home.

Qualifier Omar Morales estimates he’s played LACC as many as two dozen times over the last two years – and the UCLA sophomore certainly drew on all his knowledge as he posted a creditable one-over-par opening round of 71.

Golf Channel this week reported the Bruins squad can get onto the exclusive club around two Mondays a month and the youngster took advantage.

Morales was the medallist in final US Open qualifying at Hillcrest – shooting consecutive 65s to post a 12 under total, win by two, and grab one of five spots.  

From Puebla, in Mexico, and studying business economics, Morales has been one of the standouts on his college roster – leading the squad with a 72.2 scoring average in his 21 rounds and seven events. Nine of those rounds were under par.

After winning his first collegiate medal following a play-off at the El Macero Classic, he missed the cut by a single shot when making his PGA Tour debut at the Mexico Open. But his +3 total, after efforts of 75 and 72, still turned heads.

Getting his major debut off to a stunning start at a course barely a long drive from his campus, Morales hit the championship’s opening tee shot and birdied the par 5 before adding shots at the sixth and eighth in an open 32 as he topped the early leaderboard.

Three successive bogeys in the early part of the back nine threatened to derail his day, but he rallied before dropping another shot on the penultimate hole.

He’ll still go into the second day, though, with high hopes of making the cut and making a splash on home turf.

What did you think of the performance of Omar Morales? Let us know with a tweet.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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