GLENCOE, Ill. (Aug. 4, 2017) -- It's down to four at the Western Amateur, where the eventual winner may have played as many as 130 holes before hoisting the historic trophy.
Cameron Champ, of Sacramento, California, came out on top in a battle between two of the top amateurs in the world in Friday’s quarterfinals of the 115th Western Amateur at Skokie Country Club in Glencoe, Illinois.A three-hole stretch from Nos. 9-11 shifted the momentum in Champ’s favor and led to his 3 and 2 win over Joaquin Neimann, of Santiago, Chile. Champ, a senior at Texas A&M, is ranked No. 4, and Niemann, a freshman at South Florida, is No. 8. It was the first time the two played in the same group together.
“It was a huge match,” Champ said. “I got off to a good start, and that helped a lot.”
While Champ won the first two holes with par, the match was even through eight. But he took control with a par save on at No. 9. Although he hit it in a bunker and Niemann knocked it on the green, Champ made par and Niemann made bogey.
The long-hilting Champ — he drove it into a greenside bunker on the 401-yard, par-4 sixth hole — followed with birdies at the 10th and 11th to go 3 up.
Ahead two holes through 14, he hit his tee shot on the 348-yard, par-4 15th green high but to the right in the tall rough. His difficult flop shot landed about 15 feet from the hole. But Niemann went first and rolled in his birdie putt. Unfazed, Champ kept his lead with a birdie of his own.
“That sealed it for me,” he said. “I hit a perfect shot from the rough, maybe one you hit one out of 10 times. Then, I made my putt on top of his.”
The match ended when Champ parred No. 16. Champ will face Doc Redman, of Raleigh, North Carolina, on Saturday morning in the semifinals. Redman beat Min Woo Lee 2 and 1 in Friday’s quarterfinals.
A birdie at No. 15 put Redman into the lead, and he increased his advantage to two holes with a par at the following hole. Redman secured the win when both players birdied No. 17.
“I have never played against him, but I know he’s a great player, if he’s made it this far,” Champ said.
Medalist Norman Xiong, of Canyon Lake, California, advanced to the semis with a 1 up win over Brendon Jelley, of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jelley led by as many as two holes on the front, but Xiong took a late lead with a birdie on the 17th. Two bogeys on 18 halved the hole and gave Xiong the victory.
In the first quarterfinal match Friday, Derek Bard, of New Hartford, New York, defeated Nick Voke, of Auckland, New Zealand, 2 and 1. Bard will play Xiong in the other semifinal Saturday morning.
Champ, the highest ranked player left in the field, said his experience at this summer’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills, where he tied for 32nd and showcased his power off the tee, raised his game to another level.
“That gave me a ton of confidence,” he said. “Something clicked there. I don’t know what it was exactly, but my game has improved since then. It showed me I am capable of a lot.”
Min Woo Lee, of Perth, Australia, needed to survive a playoff Friday to get into the Western Amateur Sweet 16, and he announced his arrival into match play with a 7 and 5 win over Nick Hardy at Skokie Country Club in Glencoe, Illinois, to move on to today’s quarterfinals. It was the largest margin of victory since Nathan Smith won his opening match 7 and 6 in 2004.
Lee wasn’t the only one who won big in the Round of 16.
In the first match, Nick Voke, of Auckland, New Zealand, beat Dylan Perry, of Aberdeen, Australia, 4 and 3. In the next group, Derek Ward, of New Hartford, New York, followed with a 4 and 3 victory over Ruben Sondjaja, of Sydney, Australia.
Medalist Norman Xiong, of Canyon Lake, California, defeated 2015 Western Amateur champion 3 and 2. Xiong won the second hole and led 3 up after seven. He never trailed in the match.
Doc Redman, of Raleigh, North Carolina, rallied from 2 down with seven to play to beat Will Gordon, of Davidson, North Carolina, 1 up. He secured the win by making a 30-footer from off the green at No. 18.
Birdies at Nos. 15-16 sent Cameron Champ, of Sacramento, California, to a 3 and 2 win over Lee Hodges, of Elmont, Alabama. Joaquin Niemann, of Santiago, Chile, built a 5-up advantage through 12 and hung on for a 2 and 1 victory over Brad Dalke, of Norman, Oklahoma.
Brendon Jelly, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, beat John Pak, of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, 2 up. Pak set the competitive course record at Skokie Country Club with his 63 in Wednesday’s second round.
- courtesy WGA