Though Keppler wasn’t near the lead after Tuesday’s round, he was happy he made the cut. His next goal was to improve on his score, which he was able to accomplish, though he was unable to finish in the top five to make the U.S. Amateur.
“It was a nice way to end up,” Keppler said. “I was able to move up the leaderboard and shoot a strong round. It makes me feel good knowing that’s something I’m capable of doing, so that next year, I can post two good scores and qualify.”
Keppler finished 1-over 143, tied for 19th overall and seven shots out of the top five.
Starting at hole No. 10, Keppler caught his first break with a birdie on 18. He remained at 3-under through his next five holes before birdieing Nos. 6 and 8. He didn’t have a single bogey.
“I felt like I played the same way I played (Tuesday), but I made a few more putts (Wednesday),” Keppler said. “I thought both days went well. I think my shot selection was a little better (Wednesday).”
First-round leader Chris Waters of Atlanta continued his steady play and finished atop the leaderboard at 10-under 132. After shooting a 65 Tuesday, Waters, who will be making his second trip to the U.S. Amateur, returned Wednesday to post 4-under 67 with five birdies, including four on the back nine.
Joining Waters in next month’s championship at Atlanta Athletic Club will be Savannah’s Joe Lewis, a rising senior at Mississippi, who finished at 134, and Peachtree Corners’ Zachary Healy, an incoming Georgia player, who shot 135.
Alpharetta’s Zack Jaworski and Cumming’s David Kleckner, college players at Vanderbilt and Oglethorpe, respectively, also qualified with scores of 136.
Kennesaw resident Tevis Upton, a former college golfer at Valdosta State, had a chance at finishing in the top five after tying for 10th at 69 Tuesday. He had an up-and-down round Wednesday, totaling four bogeys and three birdies, and concluded the tournament 1-under and tied for 11th.
Marietta resident Brandon Johnson continued his steady play.
After overcoming a double bogey on his first hole before finishing Tuesday’s round at even-par, Johnson returned Wednesday to go 1-over on the day and finished tied for 19th. He dropped to 2-under following birdies on Nos. 5 and 7, but collected four bogeys and a birdie over his last 11 holes.
Mableton resident Brian Katrek also showed some consistency, firing rounds of 74-75 for 7-over 149. He a quadruple bogey on the par-4 16th, but finished his round 1-over through his final 11 holes.
Marietta resident Josh Nelson, the son of Cobb County native and Golf Hall of Famer Larry Nelson, shot 150, while former Lassiter golfer Max Weyrick had 154.
Scott Davenport of Marietta also shot 154.
This was the first of two Georgia qualifiers, with the second set for next week in Eatonton. Among the listed entrants at Reynolds Plantation with local ties are Walton teammates John Yi and Michael Sheahan, Harrison graduate Michael Garretson, Whitefield Academy graduate Ty Hampel and Kennesaw State teammates Austin Vick, Jimmy Beck, Buster Bruton and Christopher Guglielmo.
Ollie Schniederjans, the former Harrison star now at Georgia Tech, is already in the U.S. Amateur field, having gained entry as the world’s No. 1 amateur.