Intriguing Quarterfinal Matchups Loom at Olympia Fields
August 20, 2015 | OLYMPIA FIELDS, ILL.
By Cassie Stein
Only eight golfers remain in the 115th U.S. Amateur Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club, four players from the United States and four foreign players. Each of the four quarterfinal matches pits an American player against one from another country.
Kenta Konishi, 21, of Japan, is the only player who hasn’t played college golf in the United States. And of the seven college players, only Jon Rahm and Sean Crocker hail from the same conference (Pac-12 Conference).
Here is a look at Friday’s quarterfinal matches, with the player’s match-play seeding in parentheses:
12:45 p.m. CDT: Kenta Konishi, Japan (17) vs. Matthew Perrine, Austin, Texas (41)
Konishi, who is playing in his first USGA championship, advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating the No. 64 seed in the match-play field, Kyle Mueller, 2 up. A member of the Japan National Team, Konishi is looking to become the first Japanese player to lift the Havemeyer Trophy.
Perrine, 19, defeated two mid-amateurs (Brad Nurski and Todd Mitchell) Thursday on the way to his first quarterfinal berth in the U.S. Amateur. Perrine will be a sophomore at Baylor after transferring from Auburn last year.
Both are relatively new names to the world amateur scene, as Konishi is No. 632 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), and Perrine is No. 333.
1:00 p.m. CDT: Derek Bard, New Hartford, N.Y. (45) vs. Jon Rahm, Spain (60)
After his Round-of-32 loss in last year’s U.S. Amateur, Bard, 20, came back with a new match-play mindset and it has paid off. To advance to his first USGA championship quarterfinal, the University of Virginia junior defeated 2015 Walker Cup Team member Hunter Stewart, 2 and 1.
Since Rahm went the distance, and more, in his Round-of-64 match against Pac-12 rival George Cunningham, winning in 21 holes, it has been smooth sailing for the No. 1 player in the WAGR. The Arizona State University senior and winner of this year’s Ben Hogan Award, won by 7 and 6 in his morning match against Cameron Young and by 3 and 1 against Daniel Wetterich in the afternoon.
Rahm and Bard’s strengths have been on display all week at Olympia Fields. For Rahm, it’s his length off the tee and clutch putting. Bard has employed both patience and a similarly deft putting touch.
1:15 p.m. CDT: Paul Dunne, Republic of Ireland (18) vs. Bryson DeChambeau, Clovis, Calif. (23)
Dunne, who earned a special exemption into this championship, reached the quarterfinals with consecutive 3-and-2 wins. The recent University of Alabama-Birmingham graduate has fed off his experience from The Open Championship and will need to continue to do so.
One of two top-10 players in the world remaining, DeChambeau is coming off a confidence-boosting, 3-and-2 win against his 2015 Walker Cup teammate Maverick McNealy. DeChambeau, a senior at Southern Methodist University, is the reigning NCAA Division I individual champion, while McNealy was the player of the year.
This is the only quarterfinal matchup with two top-50 players in the WAGR.
1:30 p.m. CDT: Austin James, Canada (19) vs. Sean Crocker, Westlake Village, Calif. (22)
James’ convincing morning win against former University of Virginia standout Denny McCarthy helped spur him to a 2-and-1 afternoon win over No. 3 seed Jake Knapp, advancing him to his first U.S. Amateur quarterfinals. James is a junior at Charleston Southern University and the younger brother of Symetra Tour player Augusta James.
Crocker outlasted University of Alabama standout Robby Shelton in 20 holes in the Round of 16 to boost his golf resume. As a freshman at USC, Crocker was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, while helping the Trojans to the 2015 NCAA match-play final.
James’ quiet demeanor and strength off the tee will collide with Crocker’s emotional character and his accuracy in this matchup.