Now, the 27-year-old Buckhead resident, an accountant for KPMG in downtown Atlanta, is getting another shot at the U.S. Amateur as one of the 312 qualifiers who will participate in this year’s edition at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek Aug. 11 through 17.
The tournament begins with two rounds of stroke-play qualifying Aug. 11 and 12, from which 64 will earn spots in the match play portion of the event.
Waters said he is excited to get another chance to play in the U.S. Amateur, especially so close to home.
“Any time, it’s great to qualify for the U.S. Amateur,” Waters said. “This year is the one I really wanted to do, just because all of my family lives in Georgia, so that will give them a chance to watch me.”
Waters earned his spot in the U.S. Amateur at a qualifying tournament at the Piedmont Driving Club in Midtown July 15 and 16, finishing first with a 10-under-par 132.
He shot a 6-under 65 in the first round and a 4-under 67 in the second round on the par-71 course to finish two strokes ahead of Joe Lewis of Savannah (8-under, 134).
“I’m pretty happy about the way I hit the ball,” Waters said. “I didn’t make any mistakes going out there. I put it in play and got a few putts to drop. That’s what it takes — it’s all about the putter.”
The U.S. Amateur will be the second major tournament of the summer for Waters, who finished tied for 28th with an 11-over-par 291 at the Georgia Amateur in Macon two weeks ago.
Waters began his golf career in high school, playing for two years at Greenbrier High School in Evans.
While not playing on the college level while he went to Georgia, where he graduated in 2009, Waters continued to play in amateur tournaments – including the U.S. Mid-Amateur and the U.S. Public Links in 2012.
Waters has achieved his success on the golf course with a strong precision game to make up for his lack of length off the tee.
“I’m fairly consistent,” Waters said. “I don’t hit it very far, so I hit it fairly straight. I just try to keep it out of trouble for the most part.”
As he looks ahead to his second chance at the U.S. Amateur, Waters said he can draw on the lessons that he learned from his first attempt in 2012.
“I just have to go out there and keep it out of the rough, because those USGA courses are pretty tough,” Waters said. “So, I have to play my game — keep it in the fairways, get it on the green and just try not to make mistakes. I know it’s going to be a pretty long golf course, but I just have to play to my strengths and not try to play anyone else’s game. Going out there with all those college kids — they hit it so far and hit it past you and you just have to play your own game and hopefully get around there with a good score the first two days.”
For Waters, making the cut and being one of the 64 survivors who advance to match play is the primary goal this time around.
“Of course, everyone wants to go out there and win,” he said. “I definitely want to try to make match play. It’s a pretty big cut, so it definitely would be an accomplishment just to make the cut. Hopefully, I can go further than that.”
Waters will also play in a qualifier for the U.S. Mid-Amateur, which will be held in Bethlehem, Pa., Sept. 6 through 11, at the Berkeley Hills Country Club in Duluth Monday.