By MICHAEL MROZIAK
Niagara Gazette — The 55th annual Porter Cup golf tournament is scheduled to bring numerous top amateur competitors to Niagara Falls Country Club in two weeks, including the young man who recently raised eyebrows as the lowest-scoring amateur at the U.S. Open.
Michael Kim, who finished tied for 17th place ar Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., is one of the competitors booked for the tournament, which begins with player registrations July 22. The first round is scheduled for July 24.
In all, ten nations will be represented. In addition to the United States, players scheduled to appear hail from homelands such as Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, England, Ireland, Finland, Australia and New Zealand.
In addition to Kim, some of the noteworthy amateurs booked to play include 2013 NCAA champion Max Homa, defending Porter Cup champion Richy Werenski, 2012 Porter Cup runner-up Denny McCarthy and 2012 third place finisher Patrick Rodgers, who won the tournament in 2011.
Boosting this year's recruiting efforts were two important developments. First is the Walker Cup, a biennial tournament in which U.S. amateurs compete against a team of rivals from Great Britain and Ireland.
Many of the golfers competing need to place well at the Porter Cup in order to qualify for the Walker Cup.
"We're excited obviously," said Porter Cup tournament director Steve Denn. "We always have a strong field. This year, I think, it's kind of our little bump that we get by virtue of the fact a lot of these guys are trying to make the Walker Cup squad."
Also boosting their cause is the lack of a conflicting tournament this year.
Last year, the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational in Ohio, a part of the Web.com Tour seen as a springboard to the pro tour, played out the same week as the Porter Cup, causing a conflict that forced many golfers to choose.
"That Web.com event that conflicted with us, or at least kind of gave us headaches, that went away," said Denn. "That tournament moved to the fall, and it became part of the Web.com playoff series and they ceased inviting amateurs anymore."
It was seen by some as a possible sign that maybe the Porter Cup was losing some of its luster. That was then, this is now. And this year, everything just seems to be falling in place to help restore the Porter Cup as one of the most important amateur golf tournaments in the nation.
"The word has gotten out long ago that the Porter Cup treats their players very well," added Denn. "There's a lot of stuff to do outside of golf, so it becomes a very fun week for them."
The Web.com Tour still plans to invite college All-Americans to a tour stop in August. Porter Cup organizers suggest neither amateurs nor pros should be satisfied with a tour that compromises amateur events but also prevents up and coming pros from earning a paycheck.
"College players have no business playing in Web.com events," Denn said "The pros certainly don't like it, and from our perspective it takes away potentially top players from amateur tournaments."
In addition to top collegiate talents, this year's Porter Cup pool includes mid-amateurs (players 25 and older) including Todd White, Mike McCoy and Bobby Leopold.
There are also several local talents including three who earned their way on to the roster via last month's qualifier: Jonathan Clark of Orchard Park, Austin Nowak of Lancaster and Patrick Sheedy of East Amherst.
The 83 golfers scheduled to appear will be joined by the Niagara Falls Country Club champion once he is crowned. That tournament begins this weekend.