Defending APL champion having quite the year

It’s been quite a year for Clay Ogden.

First, he defeated media darling Michelle Wie on his way to the 2005 United State Amateur Public Links Championship at Shaker Run Golf Club in Ohio. His 1-up victory over Chile’s Martin Ureta earned the junior from Brigham Young University a trip to Augusta, Ga., and a pairing in the Masters with former champ Ben Crenshaw and former APL title holder Trevor Immelman.

He also got engaged.

So what’s left too do? Defend his title next month when the Gold Mountain Golf Club plays host to the 81st Amateur Public Links Championship July 10-15 on the Olympic Course.

Ogden, whose win last year made him fully exempt from qualifying for this year’s championship, was the featured guest Tuesday at Gold Mountain as the United States Golf Association held its media day to introduce Ogden to the area.

But this wasn’t Ogden’s first trip to Bremerton. He played the Olympic course twice before, as BYU took part in the Husky Invitational in 2003 and again in 2004.

“It’s a great golf course - it’s a lot of fun to play,” Ogden said. “It’s a great place to have an exciting match play event.”

While Ogden got in a quick practice round later Tuesday as part of the festivities, others around the country are still playing in qualifying events to fill the 156 spots for the tournament.

“It might help me because I know the golf course a little bit,” he said. “But it’s not really that much of an advantage because you still have to get the ball into the hole.”

But before he was able to swing a club, Ogden was asked a variety of questions that dealt with his 5 and 4 quarterfinal win over Wie and getting to play in the Masters.

“I had never really played in front of big crowds before,” Ogden said of his match with Wie. “It was an incredible experience. It was the best thing that could have ever happened to me in my golf career.”

While the win was big, getting invited to play Augusta national was the highlight of his young career, he said. During the week, Ogden played practice rounds with Chris Dimarco, Retief Goosen, David Toms and Mike Weir among others.

Despite not making the cut, Ogden shot rounds of 83 and 76, he said he learned a lot.

“The way they handle adversity on the golf course, they don’t let it get to them,” Ogden said. “I see a lot of amateur golfers, college golfers get pretty worked up and frustrated. It doesn’t help one bit to throw a temper tantrum on the golf course.”

• Chip shots: John Cassidy of Yelm fired rounds of 69 and 72 to earn one of the three qualifying spots up for grabs at Monday’s USGA APL qualifying round at the Olympic Course at Gold Mountain.

Cassidy topped a field of 121 golfers and will play in the July 10-15 main event. Also qualifying were Lynden’s Tim Feenstra, who carded rounds of 70-73 and Tze-Haung Choo, who beat Tacoma’s Andrew Yun in a playoff for the third and final spot. Choo, from Singapore, was in the area on a recruiting visit with the University of Washington.

•Â Hole-in-one: Daniel Lowney scored a hole-in-one Tuesday, using a 7-iron to ace the par 3 fourth hole at McCormick Woods. The shot was witnessed by Jeff Kistler and Adam Montville.

What: U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship

When: July 10-15

Where: Olympic Course, Gold Mountain Golf Club, Bremerton

Who: 156 qualifiers from around the world who do not have regular access to a private course.

Defending champion: Clay Ogden, a junior at Brigham Young University from West Point, Utah.

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