Defending U.S. Amateur Champion Ernesto Bayaua is in the house. The defending champ from Houston, Texas, strolled in just after 1pm for his 1:30 match. We caught up with Bayaua prior to his quest to defend the title to find out what he’s been up to and what he’s expecting in this year’s event.
APA: It’s been a year since you took home the U.S. Amateur Championship title, what have you been up to since?
Bayaua: Well you guys gave me a year to prepare for the U.S. Open, so I’ve been trying to get my mind right and practicing up for that.
APA: How did your U.S. Open experience go?
Bayaua: I made it into the lower money round, but the experience showed me some things I need to work on in my game. That’s what I’ve been doing, and hopefully it’ll show here.
APA: You came into last year’s U.S. Amateur Championship somewhat unknown amongst the regulars in this event, but stormed through the field for the championship. This year, you’ll be wearing the “champion target” on your back for all to see. Will that change your approach?
Bayaua: I don’t really look at it that way. I look at as it’s just another tough field, and it is, I’ve seen the names on the board. I’m just gonna do what I can and focus on my game.
APA: Expectations for this year’s event?
Bayaua: I expect to perform well.
We’ll be keeping an eye Bayaua throughout the event, as he tries to become the first U.S. Amateur Champion to successfully defend his title since Henry Brodt in 1998 & 1999.