Tiger Woods. Jack Nicklaus. Tim Pemberton?
Tribe golf standout Pemberton was primed to join an illustrious list of champions after shooting a blistering 143 in sectional qualifying to earn a place in this year's prestigious U.S. Amateur championship. Pemberton, a rising senior from Keswick, VA, shot his way into the tournament by placing second overall in a gathering of the region's top amateurs in rounds played at Williamsburg's Golden Horseshoe Golf Course on July 25. He joined an elite field of 312 on August 18 at the fabled Oakmont Country Club, placing a respectable 80th.
Pemberton's achievement should come as no surprise to his teammates, whom he has led in scoring average for three of the past four semesters. He led the Tribe squad with a solid seventh-place finish at this spring's William and Mary Invitational in March, two weeks after firing a lights-out 69-71 to take fifth in the Big Red Classic in Ocala, Florida. He flashed dazzling potential in an impressive sophomore season, in which he captured the Charleston Southern Invitational, while setting Tribe scoring marks en route to all-Region and all-Conference honors.
For the average William and Mary student with merely a passing interest in golf, Pemberton's accomplishment is both startling and inspiring. The U.S. Amateur is often referred to as golf's fifth major championship, known as much for its exciting match-play format as for the outstanding PGA players it consistently produces. Tiger Woods is a 3-time winner from his days at Stanford, and the great Jack Nicklaus captured it twice in 1959 and 1961. Nick Flanagan, a nineteen-year old from Australia, won this year's Amateur on August 24. What made this year's tournament especially compelling is its location at a historic Oakmont course that has hosted more major championships than any other course in the country besides Augusta National, the perennial home of the Masters.
When Tim Pemberton teed it up on August 18, no one had any realistic high expectations for him. He was, after all, competing on a legendary course against the toughest collegiate golfers in the country. So when he opened with a 71 and an 80, missing the cut for match play by two after a heartwrenching double bogey on his final hole, he turned heads and garnered well-deserved respect. By not only qualifying for but also placing 80th in this year's U.S. Amateur on one of golf's grandest stages, Pemberton has notched a resounding victory for the College.