Nothing like some time away in a log cabin.
That’s what Ben James did between the Western Amateur and U.S. Amateur. He was fighting his swing, especially his driver, which is his strength. He went away to North Carolina with Jeff Pierce, Brooks Koepka’s coach, and worked on his golf in a calm, relaxed environment.
That hard work is paying off.
James, ranked sixth in the world, knocked off fourth-ranked David Ford in 19 holes to advance to the quarterfinals. James was 1 down heading to the 18th tee but won with a par. Then, he threw a wedge from 130 yards to 3 feet and made the birdie putt to win.
“I never thought I could do that,” James said. “It’s just self belief.”
James’ victory also essentially secures his spot in the Walker Cup in two weeks, as if he hadn’t done enough to clinch a spot already. James, the reigning Phil Mickelson Award winner as the top freshman in college golf, won five times as a freshman at Virginia.
He knows he didn’t have a strong summer, but this week at the U.S. Amateur has given him confidence back, and he’s the highest-ranked player left in the field.
“My goal is to just have fun,” James said. “Just really happy to see the grit I have.”