Brookville’s Mercatoris begins Amateurs today

BROOKVILLE — The U.S. Amateur Golf Championship begins at 7 a.m. today, and Brookville’s own C.G. Mercatoris will be playing it a second time.

“It feels great,” Mercatoris said. “Anytime you can get into the U.S. Amateur, it’s probably the best amateur tournament in the country. I’m very excited.”

Mercatoris, who competed in the U.S. Amateur in 2009, is looking to build upon his successes at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

As a member of the Class of 2011, Mercatoris received the Northeast Conference Men’s Golfer of the Year award.

As one of his final marks at RMU, Mercatoris placed 31st overall at the NCAA Colorado Regional — one of the opening events of the NCAA Championships.

“When I played the NCAAs, I got to play with a lot of good players,” he said. “I’m ready to get out there and play again.”

Mercatoris will go down as a legend in RMU’s golfing history; he holds school records for the team’s 36-hole and 54-hole totals.

Mercatoris is also the owner of four out of five top-season records.

“The four years at school has really helped,” he said. “It was a good fit.”

Mercatoris qualified for the U.S. Amateur when he edged out David Denunzio, of Jeannette, at the Grove City Country Club Aug. 1. Both Mercatoris and David Brown, of Pittsburgh, received automatic berths in Grove City.

The U.S. Amateur begins today at the Erin Hills and Blue Mound Golf and Country Club in Erin, Wisc. Mercatoris will tee off at 12:45 p.m.

The first two days of the tournament will be spent in stroke play, then the 200-plus man playing field will be reduced to just 64 qualifiers, who will then play single-elimination match play. There will be five total rounds of match play.

During Mercatoris’ first stint in the U.S. Amateur Championships in Tulsa, Okla., he did not make it out of qualifying play, but he has high hopes for this year’s tournament.

Ben Pete, Mercatoris’ high school golf coach and current Brookville coach, said he always had high expectations for Mercatoris’ game.

“We never knew how far he was going to go, but his success does not surprise me,” Pete said. “He’s definitely meeting expectations.”

Pete coached Mercatoris through all four of his years at Brookville Junior-Senior High School and has continued to keep tabs on him since his graduation.

“He’s got a lot of talent, obviously,” he said. “He spent a lot of time traveling, doing summer tournaments. He was always very involved and very dedicated to his sport. His success is really paying off.”

Mercatoris reflected back on his time spent at BAHS and his golfing career since then, saying how much he felt he has improved.

“When you want to play, you want to keep getting better,” he said. “I’ve grown a lot as a golfer and as a person.”

The first three rounds of match play of the U.S. Amateurs will be televised on the Golf Channel, beginning Wednesday and continuing through Friday.

The semi-finals will be televised on NBC at 4 p.m. next Saturday; the finals will be held at 4 p.m. next Sunday, also televised nationally.