Naples' Edward Figueroa plays in his second straight U.S. Amateur beginning today in Cherry Hills Village, Colo.
Figueroa, an incoming freshman at Florida Gulf Coast University, is hoping for a better outcome than last year in Erin, Wis.
Figueroa, who graduated from St. John Neumann, shot 78-73 last year and missed the cut. He was 6 over in his first nine holes, but 3 over for his final 27.
"I was really nervous on that first few holes," Figueroa said. "I wasn't used to playing up north. I've played in more tournaments up north now. It's really helped me. I hope that I make it to match play, and play a little bit better than I did last year."
Figueroa will have some company. Future FGCU teammate Kyle English, a rising senior from Bloomington, Ill., and former Barron Collier golfer Alex McMahon, who is a rising sophomore at the University of Arizona, also qualified.
"We were good friends when we were younger," Figueroa said of McMahon. "I didn't really know anybody last year. I know a lot more people this year."
English tied for first in his qualifier in his hometown of Bloomington. McMahon, who moved to Arizona after his freshman year at Barron Collier, was second in his qualifier out in Arizona.
Meanwhile, Figueroa was on the outside looking in after the first round of the qualifier at Wyndemere Country Club. He was tied for 11th. But a four-birdie stretch in the second round catapulted him into the lead, and he won by a stroke.
"It's such a good experience, playing those courses and going up there," Figueroa said. "That in itself is awesome."
Something Figueroa and the field will have to adjust to is the altitude, which adds distance to the golf ball.
"That's going to probably be the hardest part," he said. "I guess I'll hit a lot of balls in the practice round and try to figure that out."
Donald Constable, who won the Terra Cotta Invitational at Naples National Golf Club in April, also is in the 312-player field, which will play two rounds of stroke play and be cut to the low 64 for match play after Tuesday's round.