Local athlete Steven Souchek made a name for himself as a golfer at Gibault, but lately has been making an even bigger name for himself countrywide.
Souchek competed in the United States Golf Association’s Amateur Championship, which took place Aug. 12-18 in Brookline, Mass.
In order to qualify to go to the championship, Souchek had to participate in a local qualifier in St. Louis.
“Only four people out of 115 who signed up to play in the qualifier get to go to the USGA Amateur,” Souchek said.
The competitors played 36 holes over two days, and the top four earned a trip to Massachusetts.
The U.S. Amateur Championship has 36 holes of stroke play, six rounds of match play and the final championship consisting of 36 holes on the last day.
It was Souchek’s first time at the championship, and he said it was fascinating seeing all the big names he has heard about play.
“It was a really neat experience because I got to play against the best amateurs in the world,” he said.
Amateur golfers from all over the world come to compete – not just from the U.S.
Souchek said he saw competitors from Mexico, Canada, Australia and many other regions.
He went to the championship a few days early because he knew it would be a bit overwhelming.
“It was just like you see on TV,” he said. “There were absolutely huge crowds you’d never see at a regular tournament, and social media was capturing everything about it.”
Competitors are “treated like royalty,” he said, and it was far from anything he was used to.
In the end, Souchek missed the cut by eight strokes.
“I wasn’t very close,” he said. “I kind of shot myself in the foot on the first day.”
His score was 79 and 74 for a total of 153 in two days at the Charles River Country Club on a 6,547-yard, par-70 course.
After two years at John A. Logan College in Carterville, Souchek transferred to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and is continuing to play college golf there.
“Playing for two years at John Logan gave me some experience with college golf and helped for an easier transfer,” he said.
Souchek said at a bigger school like Carbondale, he is able to work with better equipment and better facilities.
“They also care a lot more about your academics here,” he said. “School comes first; golf comes second.”
Souchek plans to keep working on his golf skills and will try to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Championship again each year.
“I’m going to keep trying to qualify up until I turn pro or until I die,” he said with a laugh.