This July, elite amateur golfers from around the country will gather in southern Fairfax County to compete in the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Laurel Hill Golf Club. Along with the honor of raising the James D. Standish Trophy, the winner of the 88th and penultimate meeting of this historic championship will receive an invitation to play in the prestigious Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
Several golfers have launched successful professional careers from the tee boxes of past championships, including Brandt Snedeker who won at New Jersey’s Blue Heron Pines Golf Course in 2003 and is currently ranked fifth best in the world. This is what golfers are really playing for at the APL; a chance to make a name for themselves and to earn a spot on the PGA Tour.
Jackson Lizardo, 18, a sophomore on the Niagara University golf team, has always dreamed of becoming a professional golfer. He has been playing competitively for 10 years and, based on his accomplishments thus far, his goal to play professionally is within reach. Lizardo won the Burke Lake Junior Golf Club Championship at age 11. Since then, he has won a number of events on the Middle Atlantic PGA Junior Tour, the Plantations Junior Tour, and the Capital Area Golf Tour. Lizardo played four years of high-school golf, the final two as team captain, and recently tied for “Low American” in a Canadian PGA qualifying event in Saskatchewan. In addition to his triumphs in competitive play, he has aced three hole-in-ones in his young career.This year’s APL provides the opportunity for Lizardo to realize his dream, but first he has to qualify for the event. Lizardo will play a round at Clustered Spires Golf Course in Frederick, Maryland next month, one of 71 qualifying sites around the country. He feels that shooting a pair of 70s will be sufficient to be included in the field of 156 competitors at Laurel Hill. “While just qualifying for the event would be a great accomplishment and honor, I hope to have the fortune and blessings to use it as a springboard to even bigger events,” he said.
As a Fairfax County native, Lizardo has the advantage of familiarity with Laurel Hill’s challenging layout. At the South County Stallion Invitational in 2010, he finished tied for third with a score of 73. And while home from college on spring break, he didn’t miss an opportunity to practice at the course. While Lizardo considers the entire course fantastic, his favorite hole is the fifth, which is typically set as a long par four during USGA events. “The challenge and the picturesque layout of the hole, along with the risk-reward option it presents make it a very enjoyable hole,” he said.
Lizardo is counting on support from family and friends in his quest to play in the APL. One person whose support he can count on is his father, Tom, who served as the head coach of Robinson Secondary’s golf team until last year and runs the Capital Area Golf Tour, a regional tour for junior golfers. He describes watching Jackson’s rise from playing Fairfax County’s par three courses to national and international events as a “blessing and a wonderful experience.” The elder Lizardo is confident that if his son puts in the effort he has the ability to qualify for and contend at this year’s APL.
Through his hard work and dedication to improvement, Lizardo’s goal of competing at the APL is tantalizingly close. He feels that as long as he maintains a positive attitude and a high level of confidence he will play well enough at Clustered Spires to qualify for the event. If he qualifies, will the hometown kid win the 2013 APL? Lizardo says, “One of the great things about golf is that anyone can break through and move up the ranks to become a great player. I figure I’ve come this far, so there’s no reason to stop now.”
Written by Matthew Kaiser, deputy public information officer
Laurel Hill Golf Club is seeking volunteers for the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. Opportunities include walking scorers, forecaddies, and standard bearers. Volunteers receive a commemorative shirt and hat, as well as a complimentary meal and a free round of golf for each shift worked. To sign up, complete the online application. Enter event code 2013APL when prompted.
Editor’s note: Tom Lizardo is a member of the fundraising committee for the 2013 APL at Laurel Hill.