BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (Aug. 2, 2008)-- Sunday’s semifinals in the 2008 Western Amateur at Point O’Woods Golf & Country Club will feature a pair of top U.S. amateurs, Erik Flores and Conrad Shindler, battling against two highly-regarded international players, Danny Lee and Victor Dubuisson.
Shindler, 20, a Texas A&M sophomore, will meet Lee, 18, of Rotorua, New Zealand, in the first semifinal at 8 a.m., while Flores, 21, a senior with 2008 NCAA champion UCLA, will square off against Dubuisson, 18, Mougins, France, at 8:15 a.m.
Lee’s success in the 106th Western Amateur comes as no surprise. Heading into the Western Amateur, he was fourth in the Golfweek Scratch Players World Rankings. He earned medalist honors on Friday by posting a 12-under-par 268 through 72 holes of stroke play.
Shindler’s march to the final four has surprised even him.
“I wasn’t playing well coming into this week,” said Shindler, of Westlake, Texas, who qualified for the championship Monday at Lake Michigan Hills. “But this course fits my eye great. I love fast green like this.”
Shindler sealed his 1-up victory over Gregor Main in the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon by dropping a 50-foot birdie putt on the final hole, the par 4, 421-yard 18th.
“My putter has been unbelievable. I’ve been putting lights out,” said Shindler. “When my putter’s working, everything else falls in place.”
In the other quarterfinal matches, Lee turned back Morgan Hoffman, 3 and 2, Flores edged Jude Eustaquio, 2 and 1, and Dubuisson outlasted Sihwan Kim, 3 and 1.
“It’s really special. I’m really happy with my game at the moment,” Lee said. “This morning I was hitting it really well, but I was getting a little tired. The afternoon match got tough, but Morgan didn’t really play that well. He was struggling with his putter.”
After sinking an eagle putt on the par 5, 550-yard 13th to go 2 up with five to play, Lee turned conservative.
“All I had to do was make no mistakes and keep making pars,” he said.
A chip-in for birdie from just off the green on the par 4, 420-yard 16th, closed the match.
Flores, of Grass Valley, Calif., survived what he described as “one of the toughest matches I’ve ever played.”
A birdie on the par 3, 208-yard 17th ended nail-biter that saw Flores take a 1 up lead through seven holes before he and Eustaquio matched scores for nine straight holes.
“There’s no weakness in his game. It was a grind out there … a stalemate, a deadlock on the back nine,” said Flores, 43rd in the world amateur rankings starting this week. “I made a lot of clutch 5-to- 10-foot par putts. That had to be killing him.”
With the potential for two more matches Sunday after four straight days of competitive golf, Flores said he’s just hoping to stay sharp one more day.
“This tournament is a gauntlet. I’m just happy to still be here,” he said. “Physically, I felt pretty good. Mentally, it’s tough staying in there.”
For Dubuisson, just having fun is the name of the game this week.
“It’s very fun. Today, I just played for fun,” he said. “I’m staying in a nice house on the beach. I thought if I lose … I’ll just go to the beach.
“I think this afternoon, we both were tired,” added Dubuisson, ranked 53rd among world amateurs coming in. “We missed some shots. I just tried to make pars. We play a lot of match play (in Europe), and I’ve learned if you don’t make bogeys you’ll do alright.”
Now, he’s looking to get some rest before his 8:15 a.m. match against Flores.
“Tonight, I need to sleep. It’s been a long day,” said Dubuisson. “Tomorrow … just try to not get any pressure. Play my game.”