BROOKLINE, Mass. (Aug. 17, 2013) — Matthew Fitzpatrick, 18, of England, and Oliver Goss, 19, of Australia, each posted semifinal-round wins on Saturday to advance to the 36-hole championship match of the 2013 U.S. Amateur Championship at 7,310-yard, par-70 The Country Club.
Fitzpatrick sank an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th to wrap up a 2-and-1 decision over Corey Conners, 21, of Canada, while Goss recorded a 2-up victory over Brady Watt, 22, of Australia.
The U.S. Amateur Championship continues with the championship match on Sunday, starting at 9 a.m. EDT. The final will be broadcast by NBC from 4 to 6 p.m.
The U.S. Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Fitzpatrick, who is attempting to become the first Englishman to win the U.S. Amateur since 1911, used a solid short game to erase a two-hole deficit on the outward nine. He made a 35-foot birdie putt to win No. 6, a 30-foot par save to halve the following hole and chipped in with a 58-degree wedge from behind the green for a birdie on No. 8 to square the match.
“I wasn’t trying to hole it out,” said Northwestern University-bound Fitzpatrick, about his birdie chip on the par-4 eighth. “I was just trying to get it dead weight, almost as if I was sort of imagining as if I was on the green what pace would I be putting on it to putt.”
Fitzpatrick, who was the low amateur at this year’s British Open Championship, pushed out to a 2-up advantage after 13 holes. He was conceded a 4-foot birdie putt at No. 10 and hit his approach at No. 13 to within 2 feet. In between, the 2012 British Boys’ champion again displayed his short-game prowess by getting up and down from the left greenside bunker on the 621-yard, par-5 12th hole.
Conners, who upended top-seeded Neil Raymond in the quarterfinals and was making the first appearance by a Canadian in the semifinals since 2006, sliced the lead in half at the 166-yard, par-3 16th when he struck an 8-iron to 3½ feet to set up a birdie. Conners drove into the left fairway bunker on No. 17, before making par by pitching his third shot to within a couple of feet. But Fitzpatrick closed out his opponent by rattling in his clinching birdie putt from the left side of the green.
“I am very happy, as you can probably imagine,” said Fitzpatrick, who is No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and defeated four Americans en route to the semifinal round. “I am very pleased with the achievement, really. It’s just a nice feeling to have.”
Conners, who was the runner-up at last week’s Canadian Amateur Championship, was complimentary of his opponent. “Anytime he was in a difficult place where he had little chance of getting it close, he hit an unbelievable little flop shot or pitch shot. It kind of deflates the tires a little bit.”
Meanwhile, Goss is bidding to become the third Australian to win the U.S. Amateur. He would join three-time winner Walter J. Travis (1900, ’01, ’03) and Nick Flanagan, who won in 2003 at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club.
Goss grabbed a 2-up lead after seven holes in his semifinal. He made a 10-foot uphill birdie putt on No. 4 and sank a 9-footer for another birdie on the par-3 seventh. But Watt, who arrived to compete in the United States for the first time on June 28, regrouped by holing an 11-foot birdie putt from the fringe on No. 8 before winning No. 10 with a par when Goss found the left greenside bunker.
Goss, who earned All-America honors at the University of Tennessee as a freshman last year, regained the lead for good on No. 11 with an 18-foot birdie putt. He kept that advantage on the demanding 509-yard, par-4 14th by sinking a 30-foot putt for birdie to halve the hole, as Watt was in tight with his approach shot.
“Whatever I did really well, he kind of did a little bit better,” said Watt, who will stay around to caddie for his fellow countryman and good friend in the championship match.
The players halved the following three holes to set up the match’s conclusion on the par-4 18th. Goss found the putting surface in regulation, while Watt was faced with a daunting chip after going over the green with his second shot. Watt was unable to convert his 10-foot par putt, then he conceded Goss’ 3-footer for par.
“I used a lot of my experience from last year,” said Goss, who reached the 2012 U.S. Amateur quarterfinals. “I can remember a lot of the shots I hit and a lot of the feelings that I had. I used a lot of that last year to do as well as I could today.”
By reaching the U.S. Amateur Championship final, Fitzpatrick and Goss have each earned an exemption into the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C. – provided they remain amateurs – and a likely invitation to next year’s Masters Tournament. The champion receives an exemption into the 2014 British Open.