published Sunday, August 21st, 2011

3 Baylor grads in U.S. Amateur

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    UTC senior Stephan Jaeger is one of three former Baylor golfers who will play in the U.S. Amateur. The other two are Harris English and Keith Mitchell. Photo by David Uchiyama
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Florida State University officials are bragging on its website and Twitter about having three Seminoles participating in the U.S. Amateur golf tournament this week.

It's an admirable accomplishment for a college team, but retired Baylor School golf coach King Oehmig can top it. He had three U.S. Amateur participants on the same high school team for two years.

Recent University of Georgia grad Harris English was the Baylor captain as a junior and senior, when Germany native Stephan Jaeger was a sophomore and junior and current Georgia sophomore Keith Mitchell was an eighth-grader and freshman playing on the varsity team. Jaeger now leads the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga team.

"I'm really proud of all of them," Oehmig boasted. "It's phenomenal. It's cool to have three from a college team, but to have three from the same high school team is amazing."

UTC commitment Wes Gosselin from Knoxville and Middle Tennessee State sophomore Brett Patterson from McMinnville join the Baylor trio as area representatives in the U.S. Amateur in Erin, Wis. It begins Monday with two qualifying rounds of stroke play. One will be at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club, the other at Erin Hills, which will be the site of the 64-man match play.

"It will be like old times. We're all good friends, and it's kind of going to be like if we were out at Black Creek," Mitchell said, noting that former Baylor teammate Jay Vandeventer from Bristol is an alternate. "We look at each other as friends and not stars or superstar athletes."

But they all could be on their way to that status.

English won the Nationwide Tour's Children's Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, as an amateur on July 24. The Thomasville, Ga., resident was one of the first four Americans named for this year's Walker Cup, the amateur equivalent of the Ryder Cup. His threesome Monday will include defending U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein of Orlando, Fla.

Jaeger has played in three British Amateurs and reached match play there twice, and he has played in two European Tour events in his home country. He is ranked No. 53 in the GolfWeek/Sagarin college ratings and has been the Southern Conference golfer of the year the last two seasons.

"I'm ready to go up there and enjoy my time and enjoy friends that I haven't seen in a while," said Jaeger, who is the first UTC player to participate in the U.S. Am since Jonathan Hodge in 2007. "I stayed with Harris at the Southern Am when he won [in July], and we talked about how we had a [Baylor] team back then that was unbelievable. I don't think we lost a match.

"We almost did the college life -- go to class, then practice, then go home to do homework and sleep, then do it again the next day."

Mitchell, the pup of the group, has won the Tennessee State Junior, earned Rolex All-American status on the AJGA tour and received the James R. Gabrielsen Endowed Scholarship at Georgia.

He understands what is on the line this week for himself, his former high school teammates and all other participants in the U.S. Amateur.

"Everybody wants to win because it helps your chances for the Walker Cup team," Mitchell said. "And the fact that you could play in the U.S. Open and the Masters is every kid's dream."

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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