Greensboro, N.C. – For all four players who won quarterfinal matches at the 2010 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, victory came down to a test of will. All four matches went at least 18 holes and three of the four matches went to extra holes Friday at the 7,218-yard, par-71 Champions Course at Bryan Park Golf & Conference Center.
It’s survival, said Josh Anderson, 21, of Murrieta, Calif., who defeated Darren Wallace, 21, of Canada, in 19 holes. Physically I know I’m tired but mentally I’m so pumped up and ready to go. I guess it’s mind over matter.
Anderson was 1 up after 15 holes but lost hole Nos. 16 and 17. He needed a prayer answered at the 18th to stay alive. After hitting his drive in the fairway, the rising junior at Pepperdine University hit a 9-iron from 160-yards to 6 feet.
I was just trying to make a good swing, said Anderson, who won the 2007 California State Amateur, also a match-play event. I just said a prayer walking down the fairway, knowing I needed to stay calm and trust myself.
Anderson made the birdie putt, advancing the match to the 19th hole, the 410-yard, par-4 first at Bryan Park. There, Anderson two-putted for par, while Wallace made bogey.
Kevin Phelan, 19, of St. Augustine, Fla., outlasted Wesley Graham, 20, of Port Orange, Fla., in 21 holes. In a match where the status changed 13 times, Graham never held a lead of more than 1 up and was never down until Phelan finally took the lead for the first time. He did so when it mattered most: on the 21st hole.
Phelan was 1 down playing the 18th hole, which he won with a par to extend the match. He then had to make a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-4 19th hole keep the match alive, handle a two-putt par from 45-feet on the par-4 20th hole, and get up and down from 20-yards short of the green on the par-4 21st, sinking a 7-foot putt to win the match. Phelan, an incoming sophomore at the University of North Florida, thrived on the kind of grinding pressure he learned to embrace after qualifying for the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
I knew no matter how I did at Pebble it was going to be good for me, said Phelan, who shot 83-75 to miss the cut at the U.S. Open. I learned how to be patient and just stay in there. Today, if I hadn’t learned that I might have tried to press too hard and make birdies, but they weren’t coming. So I just hung in there and it made the difference.
David McDaniel, 25, of Tucson, Ariz., also won an extended match, needing 19 holes to defeat Harris English. English held a 2-up lead at the 14th but McDaniel, who won the 2010 Arizona Publinks Championship, squared the match at the 17th. Both made par at the 18th and were on the green in two at the 19th, but English three-putted, giving McDaniel the win.
Lion Kim, 21, of Ann Arbor, Mich., was the only player to finish his match in the scheduled 18 holes when he defeated Chris Williams, 1 up. Kim, who will be a senior at the University of Michigan this fall, held a 1-up lead heading into the final hole after Chris Williams, 19, of Moscow, Idaho, missed 2-foot par putt at the 17th. Both players missed the fairway with their drives at the 18th, with Kim finding himself in especially deep rough. Though Williams appeared to have the advantage, Kim gouged a hybrid club to the front of the green and two-putted for par to win the match.
I’ve always thought that I’m a pretty decent match-play player, said Kim. But I’ve been so unlucky because sometimes the guy I play with shoots 6- or 7-under and I’m shooting 3- or 4-under and losing. Since the Round of 64 to now, not one opponent has really given [a match] to me. My 6-and-5 win looks like my opponent must have given it to me but really I had to fight for that too. Every match has been tough.
The semifinal round of match play will be played Friday afternoon, followed by Saturday’s scheduled 36-hole final.
Traditionally, quarterfinalists receive an exemption into next year’s championship and semifinalists receive a two-year exemption at the U.S. Amateur Public Links, if still eligible.
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.Story written by Justin Hancher and David Normoyle, USGA Communications. Contact them with questions or comments at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .