Jacob Koppenberg of Bellingham, Wash. reached the quarterfinals of the 2019 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, being held this week at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo.
In his quarterfinal match against Lukas Michel of Australia, Koppenberg took the match to 20 holes before falling.
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Koppenberg, 32, was the No. 43 seed heading into the match-play bracket of the championship, and to reach the quarterfinals survived two close matches yesterday, defeating Jack Dukeminier of Beaverton, Ore. 1-up in the Round of 32 and Daniel DeBra of Lutz, Fla. in 19 holes in the Round of 16.
In his match against DeBra, Koppenberg had carried a 1-up lead into the 18th hole, but made a double-bogey 6 to send the match to the par-5 first hole. Koppenberg quickly made amends by having his short birdie putt conceded, winning the match.
“This is a dream,” said Koppenberg. “I’ve played pretty hard this year and lost. We had a match-play tournament up in Washington State, lost in the semifinals, so that kind of stung a little bit. So, kind of hoping to redeem myself. It’s a grind, and at this point no one is going to give you a match.”
The championship Koppenberg is referring to is the 118th PNGA Men’s Amateur, held in July, in which he made it to the semifinal match before losing to eventual champion Laurent Desmarchais.
Koppenberg is a volunteer assistant coach for the men’s golf team at Western Washington University, his alma mater, in Bellingham, and helped the Vikings capture the 2019 Great Northwest Athletic Conference title. While he was a player at Western, he was a two-time NCAA Division II All-American and two-time GNAC Player of the Year.
“Oh, man, you don’t want to get old, so cherish your low 20s and stuff,” Koppenberg said. “But this is the funnest tournament. These guys are former pros, former [college] All-Americans. I mean, the pedigree here is unbelievable. And then everyone is just a little bit more laid back. I think you’ve got life a little bit more figured out. [We] have jobs, kids, families. This is my favorite tournament I look forward to every year, and I would tell these college guys, if you’re not going to turn pro, don’t chase it; keep the club in your hand because when you turn 25 you’ve got years to play in this thing. I would hope they look forward to something like this if they stay amateur.”
Koppenberg had made it to the Round of 64 in last year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur. He is competing in his sixth USGA championship, including four U.S. Amateurs. He works in business development for a communication services company.
As a quarterfinalist in this year’s championship, Koppenberg has earned an exemption into the 2020 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Kinloch Golf Club in Manakin-Sabot, Va.