ROCHESTER, N.Y. - There is quite a field at this year's Monroe Invitational Championship. Nearly half of the world's top 500 amateur golfers will be walking the fairways at Monroe Golf Club in search of one of the countries top amateur golf tournament titles. Included in that group will be Pittsford 16-year old Gavin Hall who's well aware of what this tournament means.
"I always pick out the Monroe and it's at the top of my list," Hall beems when asked about the Monroe. "It's going to be tough. Always a tough for day tournament."
It's also turned into a springboard for amateur golfers who are hoping to one day make it big on the PGA Tour. In 2011 alone, former MIC players have won seven tournaments on tour. The tournament has been won by some big names, including Jeff Sluman, Chris DiMarco, and Dustin Johnson. In 1993, it was also the site of Tiger Wood's only amateur match play loss, to eventual MIC champion Tom Creavy.
While the list of MIC alumni is impressive, one thing the tournament hasn't seen in a while is a winner from the Rochester area. 26 years in fact, back to 1985 when John Kircher held off Bob Hughes back when the tournament was still played under match play rules.
"It was probably a much weaker field than we have nowadays," Kircher says. "The amateurs we had back then were more career-type amateurs and today the field is made up of nearly 85% college kids."
And one high school junior who just might have what it takes to win the whole thing. Hall is coming off an impressive state championship victory that saw him eagle the 18th hole at Cornell University to win the title. Hall has chosen not to play in the NYS Federation tournament in order to compete at Monroe.
"You've got to keep playing good golf, working hard, and practicing. Hopefully this year is a different year."
Hall's been in the Monroe field before but never in the running for the victory. Kircher, who's quite familiar with the Pittsford prodigy says Hall has what it takes to do it this year.
"As Craig Harmon (Oak Hill's PGA Professional) said, Gavin has it. Whatever "it" is, Gavin has it. He's got a real chance of winning this thing."