Drexel assistant coach Chris Crawford has sights set on match play at U.S. Amateur

Genesis Open Golf
The Riviera Country Club will be the first course to host the U.S. Amateur.

After four previous tries at the U.S. Amateur, Chris Crawford knows exactly where he wants to go in this year’s championship, and that’s straight to match play.

With 312 contestants in the field, the 117th U.S. Amateur begins Monday at Riviera Country Club outside of Los Angeles, with Bel-Air Country Club being utilized as a second course for two rounds of stroke-play qualifying. The low 64 scores advance to Wednesday’s start of match play at Riviera.

That’s where Crawford, 23, a former Colonial Athletic Association player of the year at Drexel and currently the Dragons’ assistant coach, has set his sights.

He never has qualified for the match play portion of the event, coming closest in 2014 at the Atlanta Athletic Club when he missed a playoff for the final spots by four strokes. Last year, he shot 155 at Oakland Hills outside of Detroit, well off the cut line.

“That’s the goal,” “said Crawford, one of 14 players who received exemptions into the Amateur after competing at this year’s U.S. Open.

“I haven’t really ever given myself a real chance to make the cut. I need to play better in this one than I have in a couple of the other ones. Hopefully I’ll try to put a couple of good rounds together and try to give myself a chance.

“It usually takes something around even par. Depending on how hard it’s playing, maybe a couple over or a couple under, give yourself a chance and get into the mix. All that really matters is that you get into match play and then after that, anything can really happen. Seeding is really irrelevant.”

The highlight of Crawford’s summer came early when he qualified for the U.S. Open for the second straight year, but missed the cut in the Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. He won a match at the North and South Amateur in Pinehurst, N.C., and tied for 20th at the Western Amateur in Glencoe, Ill. He tied for sixth at last week’s Patterson Cup in Wilmington.

“I haven’t played great this summer,” he said. “I had one really good day at the sectional and I played OK in the Open itself. Aside from that, I’ve had some bad rounds here and there. I think overall I’m a better player but I have to go prove that.”

Crawford is excited about going to Riviera, a regular PGA Tour stop that he has been watching “since I was a kid.” He called it “an incredible venue, a pretty special place.”

Crawford is one of three Philadelphia-area players who qualified for the U.S. Amateur. The other two, Ben Cooley and David Hicks, advanced to the championship in a July 24 qualifier at Stonewall.

Cooley, 24, of Rydal, was a two-time All-Ivy League player at Penn and helped lead the Quakers to the 2015 Ivy championship. Hicks, 20, of Cape May Court House, N.J., will be a junior at William & Mary in the fall, and was second on the Tribe in scoring average this past season.