Quarterfinalists Rise to Occasion On Dramatic Day at Pebble Beach
August 16, 2018 | PEBBLE BEACH, CALIF.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
Cole Hammer, of Houston, Texas, the co-medalist and No. 2 seed who is seeking to win his second USGA championship of the year, survived two close matches on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Hammer, 18, an incoming freshman at the University of Texas, trailed through 14 holes in the morning before defeating Joshua McCarthy, 1 up, then ousted Zach Murray of Australia, 2 and 1, in the afternoon. He is bidding to add the oldest championship in the United States to his U.S. Amateur Four-Ball victory, earned in May with partner Garrett Barber.
“My game has felt great this whole year,” said Hammer, who qualified for the U.S. Open in 2015 at age 15. “I felt due for something big this summer, kind of got it kick-started with the Four-Ball and then the Western Am. And I feel like I’m still playing that type of golf.”
Hammer won the Western Amateur 12 days ago, defeating fellow U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist Davis Riley in the final match, and he also reached the semifinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur three weeks ago at Baltusrol Golf Club.
Six of the eight matches in the Round of 16 went to the 18th hole or beyond, and three of those went to extra holes. Riley, of Hattiesburg, Miss., survived the longest battle, birdieing the 21st hole to eliminate Mason Overstreet, of Kingfisher, Okla., after ousting co-medalist Daniel Hillier of New Zealand, 5 and 4, in the morning.
Alex Fitzpatrick, of England, is attempting to duplicate the feat of older brother Matthew, who captured the 2013 U.S. Amateur with Alex, then 14, as his caddie. Fitzpatrick, now 19, won a pair of extra-hole matches on Thursday, edging Jesus Montenegro, of Argentina, in 20 holes in the morning, then making a birdie on the 19th hole to move past McClure Meissner, of San Antonio, Texas, in the afternoon.
Devon Bling, 18, a rising sophomore at UCLA, defeated 2018 U.S. Open qualifier Shintaro Ban, 2 up, in the morning, then ousted 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Noah Goodwin in 20 holes in the afternoon. Bling is competing in his first U.S. Amateur.
Viktor Hovland, of Norway, the No. 5 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, is the highest-ranked player remaining, and he moved through with relative ease, earning a 2-and-1 victory over Harrison Ott in the morning and a 7-and-6 victory over fellow countryman Kristoffer Reitan.
Isaiah Salinda, 21, of South San Francisco, Calif., a rising senior at Stanford University who is competing in his first U.S. Amateur, ousted Trevor Phillips, 4 and 3, in the morning, then edged 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad, 1 up, in the afternoon. Salinda never led until the end against Hagestad, when he birdied No. 18 after Hagestad’s 25-foot birdie try stopped on the edge of the hole.
The quarterfinal round will begin at 2:30 p.m. PDT on Friday, with FS1 TV coverage from 7 to 10 p.m. EDT. The four quarterfinal winners advance to the semifinal round, which will be played on Saturday morning, beginning at 8 a.m. The 36-hole championship match will be played on Sunday, starting at 7:30 a.m.
- Jackson Van Paris, who turns 15 next week and who is believed to be the youngest player to win a match in the U.S. Amateur since Bob Jones in 1916, a 1-up victory on Wednesday, lost his Round-of-32 match on Thursday to Mason Overstreet, 3 and 2. “I played the coolest golf course in the country, played the biggest amateur tournament in the world and got, I guess you’d call this 17th [place], since I didn’t make it to the Round of 16,” said Van Paris, of Pinehurst, N.C., who lives a five-minute drive from the Pinehurst Resort, the host site of next year’s 119th U.S. Amateur Championship.
- All eight quarterfinalists are carrying the banner of an American college: Davis Riley (Alabama), Devon Bling (UCLA), Isaiah Salinda (Stanford), Will Gordon (Vanderbilt), Cole Hammer (Texas, incoming), Alex Fitzpatrick (Wake Forest, incoming), Austin Squires (Cincinnati) and Viktor Hovland (Oklahoma State). Gordon is the oldest at 22 and Devon Bling is the youngest at 18 (almost two months younger than Hammer). The average age is 20.
- Brothers Trevor and Trent Phillips of Inman, S.C., who were the first brothers to advance to match play since 2008, both lost their morning Round-of-32 matches.
- Davis Riley lost to fellow quarterfinalist, Cole Hammer, 1 down, in the championship match of the 2018 Western Amateur 12 days ago. They cannot meet until the final match this week.
- Viktor Hovland, of Norway, has defeated two teammates in three matches: fellow Oklahoma State player Hayden Wood in the Round of 64, and former high school teammate Kristoffer Reitan in the Round of 16.
Isaiah Salinda, who edged Stewart Hagestad with a birdie on No. 18:
“He had about a 25-footer for birdie, and I had already lagged my eagle putt up there to like 2 feet, and he just barely left it short. I thought it was in the whole way. I’m sure he did, too. You’ve got to expect your opponent to make it, and I thought we were going extra holes.”
Salinda, a rising senior at Stanford, on playing two years with All-America player Maverick McNealy:
“I learned a lot from him just watching how he prepares for tournaments, gets himself ready. Mentally he’s one of the strongest players I’ve ever seen. I talk about confidence a lot, and he has it. So I learned a lot from him definitely in my two years with him.”
Will Gordon, who got to know three-time NBA champion Steph Curry in his hometown of Davidson, N.C.:
“I haven’t hung out with him in probably three or four years, but while he was at Davidson his first couple years, we used to play a lot, but I beat him probably eight times and he beat me the last time, and he never called me again.”
The Social Scene
Gordo's moving on! He becomes the second Commodore in as many years to make the quarterfinals of the #USAmateur— Vanderbilt Golf (@VandyMensGolf) August 17, 2018
He’ll take on Isaiah Salinda Friday in the quarters.#AnchorDown #vandygolf pic.twitter.com/d2o201PyOw
#TBT to when my little brother was on the bag for me at the #USAmateur in 2013! Now he’s the one playing in his first @USGA US Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach. Good luck Al! @FitzAlex99 pic.twitter.com/VuHB5ENnWM— Matt Fitzpatrick (@MattFitz94) August 16, 2018
Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.