Matt Oshrine sulked after imploding in the third round of the Maryland Open golf tournament at the Country Club of Maryland on July 11.
The recent Pikesville High graduate led the event after two rounds until he carded a 76 on the third day that scuttled his title bid.
Yet even in defeat, Oshrine learned a valuable lesson about what it takes to perform under pressure.
Twelve days later, he put that hard-earned knowledge to use by shooting a sparkling 68 on the second day of the U.S. Amateur Qualifier at Lebanon Country Club (Pa.) to finish second overall and qualify by one stroke. Oshrine birdied three of the last five holes to claim the crown.
That score advanced the 17-year-old to the prestigious U.S. Amateur Championship at the Country Club, in Brookline, Mass., and the Charles River Country Club, in Newton Centre, Mass., from Aug. 12-18.
“Losing the Maryland Open was a really big learning experience,” Oshrine said. “I actually think that helped me qualify for the U.S. Amateur. I learned more about myself and my golf game just going through that agony of defeat. I understood about my tendencies under pressure and how to better manage them.”
Qualifying for the U.S. Amateur championship is significant for Oshrine, who will be a freshman on the Loyola University Maryland golf team this fall.
Past winners of the tournament include living legends Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
“There are around 7,000 entrants for the tournament and only 312 get to play,” said Loyola coach Chris Baloga, who advanced to the tournament just once, in 2010, out of the 10 times he attempted to qualify. “You have to have a one-handicap or better to qualify. If there were 20 high school kids his age or younger who qualified, I would be surprised.”
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Oshrine, whose home course is the Suburban Club, in Pikesville, heads to the U.S. Amateur Championship playing the best golf of his career.
“I have shot more rounds in the 60s than the 70s in tournaments in July, which I have never done before” he said. “Percentage-wise, I am shooting more in the 60s.”
Oshrine’s primary goal in the U.S. Amateur Championship is to make the final cut.
“The top 312 players over two days of stroke play are reduced to 64 players in match play,” Oshrine said. “If I could do that — which would be a pretty good accomplishment — I would be extremely happy. I have to play two solid rounds of golf. But I think I could do it for sure.”
Oshrine said playing one round of stroke play at both courses will be a big adjustment.
“I have a lot of work to do, especially in my short game area,” said Oshrine, who competed in the U.S. Junior Championship, in New Hampshire last year. “The conditions of the courses up there are a lot harder and different than Maryland courses. It’s a lot faster, a lot firmer and the rough is a lot thicker than anything around here.”
Oshrine’s standout play in tournaments should prepare him well for college golf. He said he chose Loyola, where he will major in finance, over Columbia and Purdue universities and the universities of Illinois and Pennsylvania.
He joins a flourishing program that is moving to the Patriot League after capturing the last six Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships.
“He has a very realistic chance of being our best player right out of the gate,” Baloga said. “I have plenty of sophomores, juniors and seniors. He’s probably the most confident kid I have come across in 15 years. That’s his biggest asset.”
At Pikesville, Oshrine won two Baltimore Country and District VI championships and finished second in the state tournament last fall.
“He is getting to the point where could be one of the better college golfers,” Pikesville coach Stuart Title said. “He lives golf, has the demeanor, and such a great knowledge of the game. Those are the ingredients of a very good golfer.”