Tulsa, Okla. – Charlie Holland, 23, of Dallas, Texas, a quarterfinalist in 2008, leads a group of four players who advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur Championship Friday at the par-70, 7,093-yard Southern Hills Country Club.
With a 7-iron shot from 172 yards that landed 2 inches from the hole for a conceded birdie on the 466-yard first hole, Holland won his quarterfinal match over Peter Uihlein, 19, of Orlando, Fla., in 19 holes.
In a Big 12 Conference golf matchup at the U.S. Amateur Holland, from the University of Texas, and Uihlein, from Oklahoma State University, took turns with the lead in a close encounter.
“Yeah, it was a battle out there,” Holland said. “He's a good player.He got off to a slow start and I made some pars and then it kind of it flipped, and then it flipped again. It just kind of went back and forth the whole day.It was some good golf out there.”
On his way to the semifinals, Holland defeated USA Walker Cup team member and Oklahoma State All-American Morgan Hoffman as well as stroke-play medalist Tim Jackson.
“It's awesome,” Holland said of advancing to the semifinal round. “I'm pretty proud. It's a great honor. I just gotta keep doing what I'm doing. I'm trying not to really think too much about that kind of stuff, because that's what I did last year. Last year kind of helped me for this year to not think about that kind of stuff. So just trying to stay in the moment, one shot at a time.”
Holland’s semifinal opponent is 21-year-old Clemson University senior Ben Martin of Greenwood, S.C., who overcame a loss-of-hole penalty to defeat David Lingmerth, 22, of Sweden, 2 and 1.
Martin’s father and caddie, Jim, raked the bunker near the green of the par-5 fifth hole while his son’s ball was still in the hazard, which is a loss-of-hole penalty in match play. Martin, however, regrouped quickly, and won the sixth and eighth holes to square the match. He took the lead for good on the 13th hole.
“I was in the bunker in two and I turned around and my dad is raking the trap where he had walked in there,” said Martin, who qualified for the 2009 U.S. Open. “I just happened to turn around right when he was doing it and said, ‘No’.But, I couldn't catch him. I knew I had lost the hole.I started off kind of shaky, so that kind of got me refocused. It turned out being a good thing.I know he felt terrible about it.I just told him, ‘Forget about it and let's keep going.’”
The other semifinal match pits Bhavik ‘Bobby’ Patel, 18, of Bakersfield, Calif., against high school senior Byeong-Hun 'Ben' An, 17, of Korea, who lives in Bradenton, Fla.
Patel, a Fresno State University sophomore, defeated Martin’s Clemson teammate Phillip Mollica, 22, of Anderson, S.C., coming from behind, 1 up.
“It really still hasn't sunk in,” said Patel, who advanced to match play twice at the U.S. Junior Amateur. “I'm more nervous than anything.Really just hasn't hit me yet.Yeah, coming down the stretch, 17, I was getting nervous.Yeah, still hasn't hit me yet. I'm sure it will soon.”
An, a junior golf All-American who was a quarterfinalist at the 2009 Western Amateur, took 21 holes to beat Steve Ziegler, 20, a junior at Stanford University from Broomfield, Colo.
“This course is really tough,” said An, the youngest remaining player. “I've said that a thousand times, but the course is really tough.I mean, it's the toughest course I've played in my life.So, yeah, tomorrow I'm gonna play defensively.”
The finalists of the U.S. Amateur are exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Open Championship the following year.
Match play continues Saturday with a pair of scheduled 18-hole semifinal matches and ends with Sunday’s scheduled 36-hole championship final.
Begun in 1895, the U.S. Amateur is the oldest of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.