Ben Sayers is entering some new territory.
Prior to this week, the Marquette senior-to-be hadn't really been a part of the summer golf circuit.
If his first foray into a U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier is any indication, Sayers has set himself up for an interesting few weeks.
Sayers fired a 2-over par 144 Monday at Aberdeen to earn one of the two available U.S. Junior Amateur Championship spots July 18-23 at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn.
“I've never won anything before and this is my first summer playing tournaments, so I didn't really know what to think,” Sayers said. “I was pretty nervous, but all of my friends were telling me I might win after I came in after the two rounds. I just kept not believing it but, once it actually happened, it was pretty surreal.”
Sayers fired a 2-over 73 in the morning round and then came back with an even-par 71 in the afternoon to win the event by five strokes over Alton Marquette senior-to-be Michael Holtz.
The tournament boasted a field of 52 golfers from Ohio to Hong Kong and many points in between.
Sayers, who finished 62nd in Missouri's Class 4 state tournament last month, birdied three of the final six holes. One of those came on the par-5 No. 17, a 600-yard hole.
“I was hitting the ball pretty straight off the tee, which is always a good sign,” Sayers said. “I just didn't make too many mistakes. If I missed a green, I was able to get up and down. On the long holes, I just didn't let the yardage freak me out.”
Holtz, who shot a 7-over 149, said he felt comfortable driving the ball all day and got some very important help from an outside source. Holt said his caddy, Craig Dixon, was a big help throughout the qualifier.
Holtz earned his spot by finishing one stroke ahead of a pair of golfers, including Chaminade's Joe Terschluse.
“I just knew I had to play steady golf and to keep doing what I was doing,” Holtz said. “It's hard to maintain that level, so I had to figure a couple of guys would drop off and, if I could stay where I was, I would have a good chance.”
Like Sayers, Holtz said he's excited for the chance to play in a major tournament like the U.S. Junior Amateur, an event that was founded in 1983. Notable former champions include Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods.
“I think it will be a lot of fun, an exciting chance,” Holtz said. “I know colleges look at major tournaments like this when they look at golfers. I'm excited to qualify and am excited to see what I can do down there.”