Cherry Hills Village, Colo. – Bobby Wyatt, 20, of Mobile, Ala., who earned medalist honors with a record-tying performance the previous two days, easily won his first-round match on Wednesday to advance to the round of 32 at the 2012 U.S. Amateur Championship at the par-71, 7,409-yard Cherry Hills Country Club.
An All-American at Alabama, Wyatt defeated Taylor Hancock, of Clearwater, Fla., 4 and 2, to become the first medalist to win his first-round match since 2009. With the match all square after five holes, Wyatt won three of the next four holes with a birdie and three pars. He birdied the par-4 16th hole to close out the victory and did not register a three-putt.
“Winning the medal was a great honor and certainly something that I am proud of,” said Wyatt, who tied the championship’s 36-hole stroke-play record with a two-round total of 132. “But I didn’t come out to do well in stroke play and not do well in match play.”
The 2012 U.S. Amateur Championship continues with the second and third rounds of match play Thursday. The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds will be played Friday and Saturday, respectively, and the championship concludes with a 36-hole final on Sunday, starting at 8:30 a.m. MDT.
The U.S. Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Cheng-Tsung Pan, 20, of Chinese Taipei, who shared the second position following stroke play (134), was also dominant in the opening round. The University of Washington sophomore who is playing in his third consecutive U.S. Amateur, posted a 4-and-3 decision over Evan Bowser, of Dearborn, Mich., at 17 the youngest qualifier for match play.
“It helps me to win the first match; it’s always a good thing,” said Pan, who reached the round of 32 for the first time. “It’s quite important and gives myself a good start.”
Thomas Pieters, 20, of Belgium, defeated Jordan Spieth, a two-time U.S. Junior Amateur champion and the low amateur at this year’s U.S. Open, 1 up. Pieters, the reigning NCAA Division I champion from the University of Illinois, made match play by surviving a 17-for-14 playoff that completed the match-play field earlier in the day. Pieters, who parred the first playoff hole to advance, was not able to see either course used for stroke play prior to the championship, as he spent Sunday traveling to Denver from the European Amateur in Ireland.
Michael Weaver, 21, of Fresno, Calif., and Devon Purser, 19, of Clearfield, Utah, also survived the playoff, each with a birdie on the morning’s third hole, and each recorded first-round upsets.
Purser upended No. 4 seed Sebastian Vasquez, of Mexico, 4 and 3, while Weaver dispatched No. 5 seed Zac Blair, of Ogden, Utah, 2 and 1.
Jeff Osberg, the second seed from Philadelphia who equaled Pan’s stroke-play total of 134, also lost in the round of 64, - 3 and 2, to Steven Fox, 21, of Hendersonville, Tenn., another player who advanced through the morning playoff.
In a match-up of players in the top 10 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Chris Williams, 21, of Moscow, Idaho, defeated Peter Williamson, of Hanover, N.H., 3 up.
Williams, the WAGR’s No. 1 amateur, opened with 10 consecutive pars before making birdie on the par-5 11th to take control.
“I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens,” Williams said. “Birdies are hard to come by. Pars are a good score out here.”
Doug Hanzel, a 55-year-old from Savannah, Ga., and Todd White, a 44-year-old from Spartanburg, S.C., used their age and experience to advance to the second round. Hanzel celebrated his fifth consecutive decade as an U.S. Amateur participant with a 3-and-2 victory over 34-year-old Andrew Biggadike. White, who played in this championship at Cherry Hills in 1990, posted a 3-and-1 win over 18-year-old Jonathan De Los Reyes.
“I have no pressure,” said Hanzel, who was the low amateur at last month’s U.S. Senior Open. “The kids have the pressure. Losing to a 55-year-old is pressure.”
Bobby Leopold, 28, of Cranston, R.I., was involved in one of six matches that went to extra holes. Leopold, who reached the round of 16 at last year’s Amateur, defeated Michael Kim.