Chestnut Halfway To Joining Another Spartan In Augusta
By David Shefter, USGA
River Hills, Wis. – One Michigan State golfer has already earned a likely invitation to the 2009 Masters Tournament.
How about a second?
Jimmy Chestnut of Grand Blanc, Mich., is three victories away from joining fellow Spartan Jack Newman, the 2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, at Augusta National next April.
The 26-year-old law student, who spent one year playing professionally in 2005 before applying to the USGA for reinstatement to amateur status, defeated Matthew Williams of Albuquerque, N.M., 5 and 3, to reach the quarterfinals of the 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Milwaukee Country Club.
Like the APL winner, the Mid-Amateur champion receives a likely invitation to the next year’s Masters Tournament.
“I just saw Jack the week before I came here,” said Chestnut. “He said it would be cool if we could bunk together at the Crow’s Nest. It’s still a ways away.”
But Chestnut has been rolling since posting rounds of 74-71 in stroke play. He built a 4-up lead over Nathan Colson of Milwaukee, Wis., in the first round and held on for a 1-up win. In Tuesday’s second round, he vanquished No. 4 seed Derek Berg, 4 and 3. He owned a 6-up lead with six to play against Williams, the executive director of the Sun Country Golf Association, before holing an 8-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th hole after losing holes 13 and 14.
Did Chestnut see this coming?
“I think I’m better now” than during his brief pro career, said Chestnut. “I’m not sure it’s mental because I know I can just go play golf. [But] physically I know my game a little better.
“One of my old pros (Nick Berklich) at my home course (Warwick Hills) said, ‘You’re only 26. You don’t peak until you are 33, so keep going.”
Chestnut graduated from Michigan State in 2005 and immediately tried the pro game. He qualified for the PGA Tour’s Buick Open at Warwick Hills, posting rounds of 83-73.
“I was nervous,” he said. “I grew up there. That’s why it was so nerve-racking. Every shot felt like a 3-foot putt.”
A disastrous week during the first stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School left Chestnut, who also played in some Hooters Tour events, thinking about a career off the golf course. He took the LSAT (law school entrance exam) a month later and began taking classes at Michigan State in 2006. He’ll graduate next May.
While at MSU the Lisbon-born Chestnut – his dad spent two years in Portugal working for General Motors – never won any tournaments, but he did help the Spartans win the Big Ten his senior season (2005).
This past summer, he worked for a personal-injury law firm, but Chestnut isn’t sure he wants to chase ambulances.
“I might do corporate [law],” he said. “I want to stay out of the courtroom.”
Through three rounds at the Mid-Amateur, Chestnut is performing his own brand of crime and punishment.
David Shefter is a USGA New Media staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.