Pepperdine Men’s Golfers Playing in U.S. Amateur Championship

Derek Hitchner, shown here competing in the NCAA Division I Championships in Tempe, Arizona, is one of four Pepperdine golfers playing in the U.S. Amateur Championships. Photo by Roger Horne.

Four members of the Pepperdine Waves men’s golf team are competing in this week’s U.S. Amateur Championship at the Ridgewood Country Club and Arcola Country Club in Paramus, N.J.

All-Americans Derek Hitchner, a redshirt senior, and senior William Mouw, along with graduate transfers Sam Choi and Luke Gifford, teed off in the six-day event on Monday, Aug. 15. The Waves foursome are among 312 players competing in the 122nd version of the competition, which concludes on Sunday, Aug. 21. After 36 rounds of stroke play the first two days of the tournament, the top 64 players advanced to match play on Wednesday. 

Choi, who graduated from New Mexico, and Mouw both earned exemptions into the U.S. Amateur field. Hitchner tied for second place and advanced via a playoff in a qualifying at Dacotah Ridge Golf Club in Minnesota in June to qualify for the event, while Gifford, who graduated from South Florida, won a qualifier by five strokes at the Georgia Southern University Golf Course last month.

William Mouw photo by Roger Horne
Pepperdine men’s golfer William Mouw, seen here during the NCAA Division I Championships in Tempe, Arizona, is competing in the U.S. Amateur Championship this week in New Jersey. Photo by Roger Horne

Heading into the event, Mouw was ranked 23rd in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, and Choi was rated 29th. Hitcher was 50th. 

Mouw is a three-time All-American. He ranks fourth in Pepperdine history in all-time scoring average at 71.10 and ended last season ranked 50th by Golfstat and 65th by Golfweek/Sagarin. 

Hitchner, a Golfweek honorable mention All-American last season, ended the season ranked 48th by Golfweek/Sagarin and 61st by Golfstat.

Choi was an All-American honorable mention for New Mexico the past two seasons and was ranked 44th by Golfweek Sagarin and 47th by Golfstat at the close of last season. Gifford grabbed all-conference honors in 2021 while at South Florida and garnered All-Southeast Region recognition two years ago. 

All four of the Waves have previously competed in the U.S. Amateur. Mouw has played in the event five times. Sixteen other players in the field have competed in the event at least as many times as him. Mouw advanced to the round of 16 in 2018 and 2020. Hitchner has played in the tournament four times. This is Choi and Gifford’s second times in the golf spectacle. 

Pepperdine’s women’s golfers Lauren Gomez, a sophomore, and Kaleiya Romero, a junior, competed in the Aug. 8-14 U.S. Women’s Amateur in Washington. Japan’s Saki Baba won the tournament.