EAGLE, Idaho (July 11)--In a surprising turn of events Friday morning, Jason Kang of Valencia, Calif. defeated stroke-play medalist, Erik Flores of Grass Valley, Calif., and Stephen Hale of Bakersfield, Calif., defeated #2 seed Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, BC in the quarterfinals of the 107th PNGA Men’s Amateur’s being held at BanBury Golf Club in Eagle, Idaho.
Kang and Hale both won their afternoon semifinal matches to meet in the 36-hole final match tomorrow.
Medalist Erik Flores met his match with University of California's Stephen Hale. Hale's solid play had him 2-up through eight holes, but after losing holes 9, 11, 12, and 13 he found himself 2-down with five holes to play. Knowing pars would not be good enough to take out Flores, Hale birdied the difficult 249-yard par-3 14th, then made a birdie on 15 to put the match at all square. After both making par on 16, Hale would knock his second shot to two feet on hole 17, and gain a 1-up advantage heading to the 504-yard par 4 18th.
With Hale safely on the green with a 10-foot birdie putt, Flores needed to hole out from the greenside bunker but was unable to convert as Hale used a two-putt par to secure the 1-up victory.
The quarterfinals also saw the #2 seed, Adam Hadwin's run come to an end against UCLA's Jason Kang.
The match exchanged leads several times. They didn't halve a hole until the 11th. Kang made the turn at 3-up, but Hadwin was able to take advantage of two bogeys made by Kang, and get the match to all square through 13 holes. Kang would take the advantage for good with a 4-foot par putt on hole 14, and sealed the 2 & 1 victory with a 5-foot putt for par on 17.
Other quarterfinal winners were the University of San Diego's Blake Trimble, and University of California's George Gandranata.
In the semifinals this afternoon, UCLA's Jason Kang wore down Blake Trimble as the match evolved. After making bogey on the first hole, Kang would only make one more the rest of the round on the par-3 13th.
Early birdies by Trimble had him 2-up through eight holes, but losses on holes 9 through 12 saw the lead go to Kang at 2-up. Kang closed Trimble out in style with an 8-foot birdie on hole 15, and then followed that up with a 20-foot birdie on hole 16 to win 4 & 2. This was Trimble's second straight PNGA Men's Amateur semifinal appearance.
The other semifinal match pitted two of the University of California's top players against each other with Stephen Hale facing George Gandranata. Hale's consistent play from the morning quarterfinals followed him into the afternoon, as he used three birdies and six pars on the front nine to make the turn at 4-up. Gandranata was never able to cut into the lead and Hale closed him out with a birdie on the 14th hole to win the match 5 and 4.
Tomorrow's 36-hole final match between Jason Kang and Stephen Hale will tee off at 7:30 am.