In Chris Hatch’s previous golf tournament, his mother, Jennie, was watching from the side of the fairway when Hatch hit a drive that smacked her on the forearm.
On Wednesday, Jennie found safety by serving as Hatch’s caddie at the U.S. Amateur Sectional Qualifer in Pullman, and this configuration launched Hatch onto the nation’s biggest stage for amateur golfers.
Hatch, a graduate of Kamiak High School, finished in second place at the Sectional Qualifier held at Palouse Ridge Golf Club, which earned him a berth in the U.S. Amateur.
“It was pretty windy the whole day, so it was a grind, but I had my mom on the bag and she kept me calm,” Hatch said. “We had a good time out there.”
Hatch, who graduated from Western Washington University in 2017 and spent four years on the Vikings’ golf team, advanced to this year’s U.S. Amateur, which takes place Aug. 13-19 at the legendary Spyglass Hill Golf Course in Pebble Beach, California.
At Wednesday’s qualifier, which featured golfers from throughout the Pacific Northwest, Hatch shot a two-round score of 5-under par 139 to finish one stroke behind the medalist, Derek Bayley of Rathdrum, Idaho. Hatch finished two strokes ahead of the third-place finisher, Brian Mogg of Issaquah, who will be the first alternate.
Both rounds were played Wednesday, and when Hatch shot a 2-under 70 in the first round, he found himself tied for fourth, six shots behind the leader, Bayley, and two shots out of a berth in the U.S. Amateur.
But while everyone ahead of him shot a higher score in the second round, Hatch improved by a stroke his second time around the course to book his trip to Pebble Beach.
“After the first-round 70 I felt pretty good, and then I came in and saw the scores and saw I was tied for fourth,” Hatch said. “But one of my good buddies, Derek Bayley, shot a 64, and after that I figured we were really only playing for one spot because he practically already wrapped one spot up. In the second round I got off to a hot start, birdieing three of the first seven holes, and that made me calm for the rest of the day.”
Hatch didn’t know where he stood as he played the second round — until he found himself in trouble on No. 17.
“There were a few groups behind me, and my mom and dad asked me if I wanted to know the scores on the 17 tee, and I told them I didn’t,” Hatch said. “Then I hit a 7-iron on the par-5 17th and hooked it into the fescue, and then I said I needed to know the scores. My mom told me that when I was at 5 under (for the tournament) I was in second place, and at that point I was 6 under. So when I tapped in at 18 I had a feeling I had a good chance.
“I was pretty consistent the whole day,” added Hatch, who finished the 36 holes with 10 birdies and four bogeys. “I putted really well from 5 feet and in.”
This is the third time Hatch has qualified for a national amateur tournament. In 2012, he participated in the U.S. Junior Amateur, and in May he played at the U.S. Amateur Four Ball with partner Joe Fryer of Santa Ana, California. In both cases Hatch was unable to advance past stroke play and into match play. This is his first time qualifying for the U.S. Amateur. His previous best result was finishing as second alternate in 2014.