Greensboro, N.C. – John-Tyler Griffin shot 67 Tuesday to finish at 9-under-par 133 after 36 holes to earn stroke-play medalist honors at the 2010 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at the 7,218-yard, par-71 Champions Course at Bryan Park Golf & Conference Center. Griffin, 23, from Wilson, N.C., finished one shot ahead of Bhavik Patel, Derek Ernst and Patrick Reed, and heads into the match-play portion of the championship as the No. 1 seed.
The second round was suspended at 6:18 p.m. due to a dangerous weather situation, with lightning in the immediate area and 18 players still on the course. No other players had a mathematical chance to tie Griffin.
Play will resume at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, followed by a playoff, if necessary. The starting field of 156 players will be reduced to the lowest 64 scorers, who advance to the first round of match play, which begins at 9 a.m. The six-round match-play portion of the championship will conclude on Saturday with a scheduled 36-hole final.
Patel, 19, of Bakersfield, Calif., made seven birdies for a 65 and 8-under total of 134, after a first-round 69. First-round leader Ernst, 20, of Clovis, Calif., missed a 16-foot par putt on the last hole and finished 65-69—134. Reed, 19, of Augusta, Ga., recorded a 66, highlighted by a holed-out eagle from 35 yards on the par-5 sixth, to go with his first round 68.
But it was Griffin, 23, of Wilson, N.C., with a total of 66-67 for 133, two shots off the championship record, who took home the gold USGA medal.
I wanted to make sure I didn’t give in today, said Griffin. You can come out after a good round and go the other way, and if you go the other way on a course like this you can shoot yourself out of it. I did it last year at Southern Hills [in the U.S. Amateur] to miss qualifying by one. I really didn’t want to do that here. That did more for me than making it to match play would have.
Griffin, an incoming senior at Georgia Tech who was a 2010 First-Team All-ACC and honorable mention All-American selection, fashioned his round of 67 from three birdies, an eagle on the 543-yard par-5 11th, where he hit 3-iron to 4 feet from 225 yards, and a lone bogey. As a four-time competitor in the U.S. Amateur, having twice advanced to the first round of match play, Griffin drew on previous experiences to advance again this week at the Amateur Public Links.
You’re obviously doing something right if you’re beating these guys out here, said Griffin. Medalist is nice, but then again it doesn’t do me much good to be medalist if I go out and lose tomorrow. But I’m looking forward to playing more.
Patel, who is entering his junior year at Fresno State, also has significant USGA championship experience, having advanced to the semifinals at the 2009 U.S. Amateur at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. Patel opened and closed his round with birdies, first on the 390-yard par-4 10th, his first hole of the day, where he sunk a 40-foot putt, and at the 436-yard, par-4 ninth, making a 4-footer for his seventh birdie of the day.
I got off to a good start and kept it going, said Patel. I have a ton of confidence. I know I can go out there and play well.
Ernst was tied with Griffin at 9-under playing the ninth, his last hole, but hit his approach into a greenside bunker and failed to save par.
I’m kind of mad now, said Ernst of missing out on medalist honors, but it doesn’t really matter. You just have to make it to match play and that’s what my goal was. But, sure, if you told me I would be co-medalist that would have been awesome, cool.
Reed, a 2008 U.S. Amateur semifinalist, also came to the ninth, his final hole, with a chance to join Griffin as the medalist. His 6-foot birdie try failed to find the hole.
We read it and we hit our line, but it was a little scratchy around there, Reed said. It just started hopping so it didn’t take the break, it just kept going straight.
Reed has had recent success in match play, going 3-0 in singles matches while leading Augusta State University to the team title at the NCAA Division I Championship in June.
With the kind of golf I’m playing right now it feels that I’m in control of my game, said Reed. When I’m in control of my game, it’s kind of hard to beat me. But at the same time match play is different. You just never know.
Griffin, Patel, Ernst and Reed were among 12 players who finished the stroke-play qualifying portion of the championship below par.
The U.S. Amateur Public Links, established in 1922 for bona fide public-course players, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.