Lebanon, Ohio (July 15, 2005) -– Stroke-play medalist Anthony Kim of La Quinta, Calif., continued his master of the 6,966-yard, par-70 layout at Shaker Run Golf Club on Friday morning, making six birdies over a 14-hole stretch in eliminating Ryan Keeney of Redmond, Wash., 5 and 4, to reach the semifinals.
But the big story of the morning came from the third match on the course as Clay Ogden, 20, of West Point, Utah, eliminated 15-year-old Michelle Wie of Honolulu, Hawaii, 5 and 4. Wie, the first female to qualify for a USGA men’s championship, was hoping to fulfill her goal of winning the APL and get the likely Masters invitation that goes to the champion. The invitation is up to the discretion of Augusta National, but the APL winner has received an invitation since 1989.
Kim, a 2004-05 NCAA Division I first-team All-American from the University of Oklahoma, now faces Martin Ureta of Chile in Friday afternoon’s first semifinal, while Ogden meets first-round stroke-play qualifying co-leader Garrett Jones of Rewey, Wis. Ureta, an honorable-mention All-American at North Carolina this past year, ousted 16-year-old Indonesian-born Rory Hie of Cerritos, Calif., 4 and 2. Jones, who posted a 66 in the first round of qualifying, defeated Brad Marek of Arlington Heights, Ill., 4 and 3.
Ogden, a quarterfinalist at the 2004 APL where he lost to eventual champion Ryan Moore (2 and 1), got off to a sizzling start against the wunderkind, who easily drew the largest galleries of the week. Playing in front of 500 or so spectators and a plethora of media, Ogden rolled in a birdie at the first, got a conceded birdie at the second, birdied the fourth and the fifth holes to grab a 4-up lead. The advantage swelled to 5 up at nine when Wie’s approach from 155 yards out with a 7-iron was pulled to the left. The ball caromed off a tree and bounced back into the water. Ogden’s shot landed in the right fringe and he lagged his birdie putt close enough to earn a concession and the hole.
“You can’t ever really relax,” said Ogden of his mindset. “You just keep the gas on and keep it going. Once you get up two, three and four holes, you get a little more relaxed. But you can’t relax playing someone of her caliber, just because she can make a few birdies at any time.”
Wie did win the 10th hole with a par, but Ogden came right back with a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-3 11th. The two halved the remaining three holes. Ogden played the 14 holes in the equivalent of four under par with the usual match-play concessions, while Wie was two over par.
“It’s hard to make birdies,” said Wie, the 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion and the 2004 WAPL runner-up. “It wasn’t like I was playing bad. It wasn’t like I was losing with a lot of [bogeys]. It’s just that he played really great.”
As for not getting the Masters invitation, Wie took the setback in stride.
“Obviously I am very disappointed, but it is not the end of the world,” said Wie, adding that she would play in the 2006 APL. All quarterfinalists are exempt into the 2006 event, which will be held in Bremerton, Wash., at Gold Mountain Golf Club’s Olympic Course July 10-15. “I obviously think I could have gone farther, but I can’t do anything about it right now. I am glad that I got this far.”
As for Kim, he jumped out to a 3-up lead at the turn and never looked back against Keeney, who needed 23 holes on Thursday to eliminate Matt Savage of Louisville, Ky., in the round of 16. He birdied one, seven (halve), nine (conceded), 10 (halved), 11 and 14 (halved), playing 14 holes in the equivalent of six under. Kim has now made 19 birdies (one concession) over his last three matches, none of which have gone beyond the 15th hole. His toughest match came Wednesday in the first round against Ki Moon of Ellicott, Md. (1 up win).
“If he keeps hitting the ball like he is – it’s not curving at all, he’s just hitting straight shots right down the target line – there’s no competition in the field for him,” said Keeney. “Any competition that there would be for him is already gone. I’m pretty sure it’s a done deal.”
Case in point, the par-4 10th when Keeney rolled in a 25-footer for birdie only to watch Kim match with a 5-footer. Four holes later at the par-3 14th, Kim’s tee shot stopped 20 feet from the flag, while Keeney stuffed his best shot of the week to just 4 feet. He never got a chance to putt it as Kim rolled in the birdie to close out the match.
“I thought maybe I would put a little heat on him,” said Keeney. “But not today. It was just a total buzz-saw match. He didn’t miss a shot.”
Keeney, nevertheless, had a great week, especially after recovering from an opening-round 78 on day one of stroke-play qualifying. The 2004-05 NCAA Division honorable-mention All-American from Nevada-Las Vegas managed to earn an exemption for next year’s APL, which will be played about an hour from his parents’ home.
“It’s nice to have that exemption, for sure,” said Keeney.
Then again, Ogden is shooting for a bigger prize. By reaching the semis, he gets a two-year exemption to the APL and a win on Friday afternoon, gets him a spot in the U.S. Amateur next month at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. Two more victories likely lands him in Augusta, not bad for a guy who did not compete on the Brigham Young University team that placed fourth at the NCAAs this year.
“That would be amazing,” said Ogden, a rising junior at the Provo, Utah, school. “Everyone dreams of playing in the Masters. That would be unbelievable.”
Story written by USGA staff writer David Shefter. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Semi-final matches will be played Friday afternoon; click on the tournament link above for links to live scoring.