by Ron Balicki
ERIN, Wis. - Patrick Cantlay was 2-down with
two holes to play. It certainly appeared as
though he were about to join his other two
2011 Walker Cup teammates in elimination in
Friday afternoon’s quarterfinal round of the
111th U.S. Amateur Championship at Erin Hills
Instead, he showed why he is the world’s No.
Cantlay stormed back, winning the final two
holes and then clinched the victory on the
19th hole over unheralded Max Buckley, a
senior at SMU.
It marked the second time in his last three
matches that Cantlay came back to win in
extra holes after being 2-down with two to
play. He was in that situation on Thursday
against Walker Cup teammate Russell Henley.
Cantlay birdied the final two holes of regulation
and won it on the 21st hole with a par.
His overtime win Friday afternoon certainly
helped save some face within the Walker Cup
representation ranks. Earlier in the afternoon
both Peter Uihlein, the defending champion,
and Patrick Rodgers were sent home.
Jordan Russell, a senior at Texas A&M,
defeated Uihlein, 2 and 1, while Kelly Kraft, a
recent graduate at SMU and coming off a 23-
hole win in the morning round, rolled past
Rodgers, 6 and 4.
Cantlay will face Russell in Saturday’s opening
semifinal match while Kraft will take on GB&I
Walker Cupper Jack Senior, a 1-up winner over
two-time U.S. Junior champion Jordan Spieth.
Buckley was trying to become Mad Max the
Giant Slayer and almost did just that against
Cantlay, the college freshman and player of
the year at UCLA last season.
Cantlay was certainly considered the heavy
favorite coming into the match, sporting plenty
of impressive credentials in college and
amateur play as well as on the PGA Tour where
he finished no worse than 21st in his four
starts, including the U.S. Open.
Buckley, on the other hand, has hardly played
much competition golf the last two summers,
devoting his time to his summer job at
Oppenheimer Funds. His claim to fame - a
victory this year at The Hockster, one of the
Metropolitan Golf Association’s major
But for 16 holes, Buckley never buckled. Only
six of their 19 holes were halved as the two
punched and counter punched their way
around this 7,729-yard course that will serve
as venue for the 2017 U.S. Open.
Cantlay, who lost to eventual champion Uihlein
in last year’s semifinals, went on top first,
winning Nos. 3 and 4 with pars. Buckley won
the fifth with a par; Cantalay the sixth with
birdie; and Buckely the seventh (birdie) and
ninth (par) to put the match all square at the
Cantlay won the 12th with a par then Buckley
made his charge, winning the 13th with a par
and 15 and 16 with birdies.
“I knew when I was on the tee box (at 17) it
wasn’t over,” Cantlay said. “I was in the same
spot a couple of matches before. I knew I just
had to dig down deep and make something
He won 17 with a conceded par after chipping
to within a foot and Buckley missing his 10-
foot par putt. Cantlay then won the par-5,
18th with a birdie.
At the 19th hole, par-5, first, Cantlay hit two
solid shots to just in front of the green.
Buckley, meanwhile, hit his third shot into a
hazard and hacked his way out in the thick
rough, some 25 yards short of the green.
Cantlay putted two feet past the hole and
Buckley’s chip rolled some 10 feet beyond the
“He missed, I made and that was that,”
Cantaly said matter of factly.
“It’s nice to know I can hit good shots coming
down to the wire under the pressure,” Cantlay
said. “Of course, I’d rather just have a good
“So far it’s been a very mentally taxing (match
play) tournament, especially my last three
matches,” he said. “But, at this stage it’s
taxing on everyone. But hopefully I’ll be able to
draw on my experiences (for semifinals) from
last year and from this week. It’s nice to know
I was there before and know I can play and
what it’s like.”
ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur
The U.S. Amateur, the oldest USGA
championship, was first played in 1895 at
Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island. The
which has no age restriction, is open to
with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is
of 13 national championships conducted
annually by the USGA, 10 of which are
for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent
competition in the world.
Applications are typically placed online, starting
third week in April at www.usga.org.
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