Wilson, Salinetti Share Honors


Wednesday, August 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) — A car salesman who once was a professional golfer and a collegian from Rhode Island shared medal honors at the U.S. Amateur on Tuesday but the event lost one of its most recognized faces when former champion Matt Kuchar didn't advance to match play.

Reinstated amateur Jeff Wilson, the medalist at the recent U.S. Open, and Jim Salinetti of the University of Rhode Island topped the field of 312 players by posting 4-under-par 137 totals.

The Lower and Upper courses at the famed Baltusrol Golf Course yielded only seven sub-par rounds for 36 holes.

Tom McKnight, who lost the 1998 Amateur final to Hank Kuehne, finished a stroke behind the leaders and one ahead of Lucas Glover of Clemson, who shared the first-round lead with Wilson and David Miller of Georgia.

Three-time Georgia Tech All-America Bryce Molder, considered the top player in the college ranks, Ricky Barnes of Arizona and James Driscoll of Virginia were the only other players to break par with 1-under 140 totals.

Also advancing to match play which starts Wednesday on the Upper Course were James McLean of Australia and Luke Donald of England, the last two NCAA champions, respectively, Andy Miller, the son of NBC Sports golf analyst Johnny Miller, and Ben Curtis, who lost to eventual winner David Gossett in the semifinals of last year's Amateur. They were at 142.

Exactly 64 players made the cut at 5-over 146, marking the first time there has not been a playoff for positions in match play since the current format was started in 1979, the USGA said.

Kuchar, the 1997 Amateur champion, finished at 7-over 148 in missing match play for the second straight year. He had a 1-over 71 on the Lower Course on Tuesday, but that wasn't good enough to overcome his 77 on Monday that featured a triple-bogey 8 at No. 11 on the Upper Course.

``The Amateur, like everybody says, is probably the hardest event to win,'' said Kuchar, who rode a big smile and great performances in the U.S. Open and the Masters to immense popularity in golf circles in 1998.

``Maybe in years to come, I will be able to say that with a little more conviction,'' said Kuchar, who plans to work as an investment banker before turning pro next year. ``I'll know better, how tough it is.''

Wilson, a 37-year-old who mostly hits ball at a range because of time constraints with work and two children limit his golfing, stayed in front with an even-par 70 on the Lower Course. He had three birdies and three bogeys.

``I really wanted to be the medalist when I started my round today,'' Wilson said.

Salinetti, 22, a two-time winner of the New England Amateur, shot a 2-under 68 on the 7,116-yard Lower Course, which has been the site of four U.S. Opens since 1954.

Salinetti, who plans to turn pro in a month unless he wins the Amateur, had four birdies and two bogeys in posting his second straight sub-70 round. He reached match play last year but lost in the first round.

``Last year I was too conservative in the second round,'' Salinetti said. ``I wanted to go out and be more aggressive today.''

David Miller, the first-round co-leader, also made the cut at 143.

Matt Weibring, the son of PGA Tour player D.A. Weibring, was in a group at 144 after shooting a second straight 72. His father was his caddie. Jeff Curl, the son of Rod Curl, also made the cut at 141.

Buddy Marucci, the 1995 runner-up who was playing in his 23rd Amateur, and 1993 Amateur champion John Harris missed the cut, finishing at 149. Harris had a second-round 79.

Also collapsing in the second round was Georgia Tech's Carlton Forrester, who had an 80 after a 69 on the tougher Lower Course.

Several sons of PGA pros also missed the cut, including Kevin Stadler (147), Michael Beard (149), Kyle Coody (151) and Raymond Floyd Jr. (155).