Aurora, Colo. (July 18, 2008) – Jack Newman of Des Moines, Iowa, John Chin of Temecula, Calif., Cason Hammock of Columbus, Ga., and David Johnson of Palm City, Fla., each won their morning match to advance to the afternoon semifinals of the 2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Murphy Creek Golf Course.
Newman, 20 and a Michigan State junior, outlasted 2007 semifinalist Corey Nagy of Charlotte, N.C., in 24 holes. Newman, who carried his own bag for the entire championship, will give that duty to his college teammate and fellow quarterfinalist Randall Hutchison, who was eliminated by Hammock, a self-taught 23-year-old.
Chin, a 21-year-old lefty, beat Jeff Dennis of Jacksonville, Fla., 4 and 3. Johnson, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Central Florida, dispatched Kyle Leach of Louisville, Ky., 5 and 4. Leach had defeated highly regarded Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, Calif., in the third round.
Newman missed a short putt on the 18th green for the second consecutive day. In the second round on Thursday, he lipped out a three-foot putt that extended his match with highly rated Billy Horschel of Gainesville, Fla. Newman, however, prevailed in 21 holes.
In the quarterfinals, Newman missed a four-foot par putt on the 18th hole to give Nagy a new life. However, six holes later, Newman’s conceded birdie putt ended the match.
"I actually thought about (Thursday),” Newman said of his lipped-out putt. “Then, I pulled it but today I hit it right where I wanted but it did a horseshoe on me.”
The match was almost over on the second extra hole when Newman had a conceded birdie from 18 inches and Nagy was nearly off the green 50 feet away. Nagy holed the long-distance birdie to extend the match.
"I never thought I had it won,” said Nagy, the highest remaining seed. “I tried to play every hole like it was our first hole. He played very solidly and made a lot of putts. My level of disappointment is low because I did everything I could do.”
Chin, a junior at California-Irvine, is playing in his first USGA championship and has little experience in match play.
In a close match, he pulled away by winning holes 12 and 13 when Dennis made two consecutive bogeys. Chin then notched a winning birdie on the par-5 15th to close out the match.
"We do it within the team,” Chin said of match play. “We see it on TV but golf is golf, you’ve got the get the ball in the hole.”
Johnson is playing in his third Amateur Public Links but has made the most of his first appearance in match play.
In his win over Leach, Johnson never trailed and held a 3-up lead through nine holes. He did not make a bogey and was the stroke-play equivalent of 5 under par in 14 holes.
"I have so much adrenaline right now, I just want to keep going and keep going,” Johnson said. “I’m as confident as I’ve ever been. If you would have pulled my name out of a hat at the beginning of the week you would have said ‘Who is this guy.’ But I have confidence.”
Hammock was 2 up through five holes but lost three of the next five for a 1-down deficit through 10 holes, which last four more holes. He then won the 15th, 17th and 18th with birdies for his comeback victory.
"My putting’s been good all week,” Hammock said, whose sister, Jennifer, is working as his caddie. “I made an up and down from a downhill lie in the bunker on 14 and that was the round saver.”
Story written by Pete Kowalski, USGA Media Relations. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org