BROOKLINE, Mass. (Aug. 16, 2013) – Brady Watt, of Australia, rallied on the inward nine to defeat Scottie Scheffler, 17, of Dallas, 1 up, on Friday and reach the semifinal round of match play in the 2013 U.S. Amateur Championship at 7,310-yard, par-70 The Country Club. Corey Conners, of Canada, also advanced with a 5-and-3 victory over top-seeded Neil Raymond, of England.
Matthew Fitzpatrick, of England, and Oliver Goss, of Australia, also won their quarterfinal matches. For the first time since the championship’s inception in 1895, an American player will not be in the semifinal or championship matches.
Watt, who was the stroke-play co-medalist with Raymond and earned the No. 2 seed, was 2 down after 12 holes. But Scheffler made bogey on the par-4 13th when he hit his approach shot into the left greenside bunker. Watt, 23, squared the match on No. 15 when he sank an 18-foot birdie putt that was nearly up against the collar on the back fringe.
Scheffler, who was attempting to become the first U.S. Junior Amateur champion to advance to the U.S. Amateur semifinals since 1986, had an opportunity to regain the lead but missed his 5-foot birdie putt to the right on the par-3 16th. After halving the following hole, Scheffler found the front greenside bunker on the 431-yard, par-4 18th. He was unable to reach the green from the ball’s depression in the sand, which led to a bogey.
“I was about 185 (yards), and I went with 4 (iron) and I hit a little cut,” said Scheffler, who was the last American remaining in the field. “I think the wind kind of gusted on me. I came up short, and then just didn’t have much in the bunker.”
Meanwhile, Watt was able to get up and down from just off the right side of the green. He chipped out of the rough and made a 5-foot, downhill par putt to win the match and complete the comeback.
“I was a little bit off both ways with my shots,” said Watt, who arrived in the United States for the first time seven weeks ago. “But I hung in there, kind of down the stretch, got it back to 1‑down and then holed a good putt on 15, and then a really good up‑and‑down on the last to close it out.”
Scheffler, who had come from behind in the first three rounds of match play entering the quarterfinals, put the pressure on his opponent early by making a hole-in-one at the par-3, 197-yard seventh with a 5-iron. The shot landed on the front of the green and rolled 40 feet for the first hole-in-one in a quarterfinal match in 17 years. After a bogey on the following hole, he made an 8-foot par putt to win No. 9 and a 15-foot, downhill birdie putt on No. 10 to take a 2-up lead.
The U.S. Amateur Championship continues with the semifinal round on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. EDT. The matches will be broadcast by NBC on tape delay from 4 to 6 p.m. The championship is scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Sunday, starting at 9 a.m. EDT.
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.
Corey Conners, who was the runner-up at last week’s Canadian Amateur Championship and plays at Kent State University in Ohio, won five consecutive holes in the middle of the match with Raymond. He recorded four consecutive pars on holes 9 through 12, before winning No. 13 with a birdie.
“I was always on the correct side of the hole,” said Conners, the first Canadian to make the U.S. Amateur semifinals since 2006. “There are some treacherous greens out here, and it's really important to have yourself in good positions because you can be not that far from the pin but in nearly impossible places. My ball‑striking was good, drove the ball great, but yeah, just lots of smart decisions, and gave myself lots of chances, but easy pars basically.”
Raymond, 27, briefly held a 1-up lead when he birdied the fourth hole, but he bogeyed the par-3 seventh and the match was all square. While Conners used a solid short game to put together a string of pars, the Englishman struggled with five consecutive bogeys.
“He fought his way around the golf course very well; even when he couldn’t quite get to the pin, he left himself on the right side of the greens which is what I didn’t do,” said Raymond, who was playing in his first USGA championship. “He chipped lovely today, he really did.”
Goss, of Australia, will be paired against his countryman Watt in the semifinals after upending Brandon Matthews, 19, of Dupont, Pa.., 5 and 3. A U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist for the second consecutive year, Goss won the opening two holes and never trailed. Matthews hit his first tee shot out of bounds, leading to a triple bogey, and conceded a par putt on the second. Goss extended his advantage to a 3-up lead by making an 8-foot par putt on No. 10.
“I definitely didn’t expect to win 5 and 3 today,” said Goss, who said his 12-foot par putt to halve the par-4 13th was a key point in his quarterfinal match. “My first two matches were really tight. I think I played 53 out of 54 holes. But I’m glad I got the job done.”
Fitzpatrick, 18, of England, defeated Adam Ball, 19, of Richmond, Va., 4 and 3.
Fitzpatrick, who will attend Northwestern University near Chicago this fall, claimed four consecutive holes with three pars and one bogey to break open a tight match against Ball, who is No. 776 in the World Golf Amateur Ranking. Fitzpatrick won holes 9 through 12, including the 505-yard ninth, when he chipped from 25 yards to within 3 feet for a par 4.
“That was sort of the turning point because I just sort of switched momentum,” said Fitzpatrick, who was the low amateur at last month’s British Open Championship and the 2012 British Boys’ champion. “That is pretty much the toughest stretch of the golf course, so if you make pars your chances of winning holes is increased.”