by Ron Balicki
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. (Aug. 27, 2010) – Scott Langley kept his hopes alive for joining some pretty elite company in the U.S. Amateur Championship record book.
The senior at Illinois, who last June won the NCAA Division I Championship at The Honors Course just outside of Chattanooga, Tenn., moved one step closer to becoming only the fourth player in history to win the national collegiate title and U.S. Amateur crown in the same year.
Should the first-team All-American and Big 10 Player of the Year go on to win three more matches, he would join Jack Nicklaus (1961), Phil Mickelson (’90) and Tiger Woods (’96) as the only players to win both titles in the same calendar year.
As temperatures dropped and the wind picked up, the Rounds of 32 and 16 created a lot of excitement at Chambers Bay.
“That would be awesome, for sure, but at this point you can’t start thinking about all that kind of stuff,” said Langley, who tied for 16th and low amateur honors at this year’s U.S. Open. “There’s still a long way to go and I know a lot of tough matches still to be played.”
One of those tough matches comes Friday as Langley leads the group of eight into the quarterfinal round of the 110th U.S. Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay.
Langley, who had to go 19 holes in each of his first two matches, took an easier route Thursday afternoon as he cruised to a 6-and-4 victory over Ryan McCarthy, 21, of Australia.
Langely, who had to beat the likes of Tim Jackson and Patrick Reed in those first two matches, now gets to take on David Chung, a junior at Stanford and arguably the hottest player in amateur golf coming into this event.
Chung, who won the Porter Cup and Western Amateur in back-to-back weeks within the last month, advanced with a 2-and-1 triumph over Brad Benjamin, the 2009 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion and ’09 University of Memphis graduate.
Langley, 21, from St. Louis, didn’t lose a hole in his match. He and Benjamin halved the first four holes before Langley won Nos. 5 and 6 with pars and 7 with a birdie to go 3 up. He won the ninth with a bogey and then closed out the match by winning 13 and 14 with pars.
“I played a lot better this afternoon, that’s for sure,” Langley said. “I was able to control the ball well and kept it in front of me and in play.
“The wind really started kicking up and that changed the golf course dramatically,” he said. “You really had to think your way around and try to stay patient. On this course there are a lot of slopes you have to use to your advantage, but you have to hit good shots. If you miss the slopes, you’re in big trouble. Thing about this course is it rewards creativity and I like that.”
Benjamin, who also won the Illinois Open last year, got off to a solid start, winning Nos. 1 and 3 with birdies to go 2 up. But Chung, winner of the 2009 North & South Amateur, came back and won the seventh and ninth with pars and went 1 up with another par at the 10th.
Benjamin, who was trying to become only the fourth player to win the U.S. Public Links and U.S. Amateur in any year, squared it with a par at 11, but Chung surged in front for good when he won 12 with a birdie and 13 with a par. Benjamin took No. 15 with a par, but Chung closed the match out by winning the 17th with a par.
In other Sweet 16 Round matches:
Max Homa def. Harris English, 4 and 3: Homa, a sophomore at California, was never seriously challenged after winning Nos. 1 and 3 to go 2 up and then taking 6 and 8 to make it 4 up. English, a second-team All-American at Georgia as a junior last season, won No. 9, but Homa, who tied for third at this year’s Trans-Mississippi, won 10 with a bogey and 12 with birdie to go 5 up. English won the 13th but it was too little, too late.
• • •
Byeong-Hun An def. Scott Strohmeyer, 3 and 2: An kept his hopes alive of becoming the first player to successfully defend his U.S. Amateur title since Tiger Woods won three in a row (1994-96). Strohmeyer, a junior at Alabama, won No. 7 to go 1 up, but An got on a roll and won holes 8, 9 and 10 to go 3 up and then won 15 with a bogey before the match ended when they halved 16.
“It was so windy out there this afternoon,” said An. “I really have no idea what I did. You really had to concentrate so hard on every shot. It was really tough, physically and mentally.”
• • •
Patrick Cantlay def. Connor Arendell, 1 up: Cantlay, a freshman at UCLA, held off a late surge by Arendell, a junior at Central Florida, to advance. Cantlay was 3 up after six holes and 4 up after 12. But Arendell, who made it to the Sweet 16 at last year’s U.S. Am, won 14 with a birdie and 16 and 17 with pars. Cantlay hung on for the win, matching Arendell’s par 5 on the 18th.
• • •
Morgan Hoffmann def. Alex Ching, 4 and 2: Hoffman, a junior at Oklahoma State and a member of the winning 2009 U.S. Walker Cup team, had a birdie-eagle-birdie stretch on holes 3-5 to go 3 up and never looked back. He won 10 with a birdie to go 4 up before Ching won 11 with a par. Hoffmann won the 12th with a birdie, but Ching made a slight charge, winning 13 and 14 with pars. Hoffmann closed things out with birdies at 15 and 16. Hoffmann’s roller coaster round included six birdies, an eagle, four bogeys and a double bogey.
• • •
Jed Dirksen def. Joseph Bramlett, 19 holes: Neither Dirksen, a junior at Iowa, nor Bramlett, a recent Stanford graduate, led by more than one hole the entire match. After Bramlett, who captured this year’s Northeast Amateur, won holes 4 and 5 to go 1 up, the two exchanged hole wins from 6-10. Dirksen won the 12th with an eagle to go 1 up, but Bramlett won 14. Dirksen, runner-up at this year’s Iowa Amateur, won the 16th with a birdie, but Bramlett sent it to extra holes with a birdie at 18. At the first extra hole (No. 1), Dirksen claimed the victory with a bogey.
• • •
Peter Uihlein def. John Hahn, 19 holes: Uihlein earned the right to go up against his Oklahoma State and ’09 Walker Cup teammate Hoffmann in the semifinals. Hahn, a senior at Kent State, won holes 2 and 4 with birdies to go 2 up. Uihlein won No. 5, Hahn 6 and Uihlein 7, all with birdies. Hahn went 2 up, winning the ninth with a bogey, but Uihlein, winner of this year’s Sahalee Players Championship on the nearby Home Course, won 10 and 12 with birdies to make it all square. Hahn won the 13th and Uihlein the 14th before the two halved the next four holes to send the match back to No. 1. Hahn, the 2009 Western Amateur champion, struggled and made double bogey, allowing Uihlein’s conceded birdie to end the match.
“It was a matter of survival out there this afternoon,” Uihlein said. “The course was tough, the wind was brutal. It was just so hard. John and I really were grinding out there. We made a lot of bogeys. I was just fortunate to survive.”