2017 Western Amateur Champion Norman Xiong (WGA photo)
GLENCOE, Illinois (August 5, 2017) -- Norman Xiong threw the curse of the medalist out the window today at the Western Amateur, becoming the first medalist to win the title in the grueling multi-format event since Chris Williams, of Moscow, Idaho, did it in 2012 at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Illinois.
But with three lost holes in a row at the end of regulation, Xiong felt the title match, which he had dominated all day, slip away. After getting as big as a 4-up advantage at the turn, Redman won No. 10 to get back to 3-down and tried his best to rally with birdies on Nos 13 and 14. When Xiong matched those, he was three up with four to play, then Redman birdied No. 15 to get back to having an outside chance. And Xiong gave him some help, losing Nos. 16 and 17 to par. That's three straight losses, and a huge swing in momentum.
The match was all square with one hole to play.
“After 16, I started to feel it,” Xiong told the WGA. “I got a little more nervous, a little more tense. Before that, I was loose. Doc and I had fun out there … before 16, it was a relaxing round. We tried to keep it light, even though it’s such a big stage.”
Redman had a 20 foot putt to win the match on No. 18, and he nearly holed it, lipping out.
Redman conceded Xiong’s four-foot putt for par on 18 because he said he didn’t want to win on a possible Xiong miss. Prior to that, Xiong gave Redman par putts on Nos. 16-17 that measured longer than two feet.
In extra holes, (starting at No. 1) Xiong had a 15-foot birdie putt to win, and like Redman on No. 18, he lipped out. The duo halved the second with pars and the third with birdies. Redman two-putted for his birdie on No. 3, while Xiong needed to
make a 15-footer to keep his title hopes alive.
On the par-4 fourth, Xiong hit his approach to 12 feet, and Redman was more than 100 feet away, a very difficult two putt under the pressure of the 22nd hole. Xiong easily two-putted for par, and when Redman missed his par putt, Xiong, the 2016 Junior PGA winner, had clinched the biggest title of his young career.
Redman, who we will be keeping a close eye on at the U.S. Amateur as he eyes a potential spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team, said that despite digging himself so big of a hole he never gave up.
“I wanted to stick to what I’d been doing, see if I could get some birdies,” he said. “There was nothing crazy going on in my head.”
Norman Xiong def. Derek Bard, 2&1
This was a tight one between Bard, the start golfer from Upstate New York, who played for Virginia and won the Monroe Invitational and Palmetto Intercollegiate in the spring. He displayed the kind of play that gives him a current Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Ranking of 26 with three-straight birdies on Nos. 5-7 (the last one matched by Xiong) to go 2-up.
Bard's semifinal opponent is Californian Norman Xiong, the Western Amateur medalist, member of the Oregon Ducks golf team. (His world ranking is No. 76 but will take a big jump based on his play at the Western.) Xiong fought back with a birdie on No. 10 but Bard gained the 2-up advantage at No. 11 with a birdie of his own, before two bogeys brought the match to all square. So much for the curse of the medalist, as Xiong gained the advantage with a birdie on No. 14 and never let it go.
Doc Redman def. Cameron Champ, 3&2
Cameron Champ (also from California) of Texas A&M picked up his biggest career amateur title with a victory at the Trans-Miss last month at Prairie Dunes and wowed spectators by driving it past Rory McIlroy in a U.S. Open practice round. But today perhaps the hottest player in the field had his hands full with opponent, Doc Redman of Clemson.
Redman birdied three of the first six holes but never got more than one up, and Champ tied the front nine with a birdie on No. 9. Both players shot 32 and neither one had an advantage. The exchanged birdies on Nos 10 and 11, but still, nobody was gaining any ground. Redman, the ACC Freshman of the Year, birdied the par-5 13th go 1-up, then stepped took control of the match on Nos. 14-15 with winning pars as Champ, (Sacramento, California) couldn’t take advantage of his distance. For example he reached the par-5 13th in two, he three-putted for par, and suffered another costly three-putt on No. 14.
Perhaps most frustrating for Champ? He drove it to the fringe on the 348-yard, par-4 the 15th, chipped it to four feet, then three-putted for bogey. You know the phrase we're thinking, so we won't say it. But if he squares that putter away we look for Champ to be a strong contender at the upcoming U.S. Amateur.
ABOUT THE Western Amateur
Invitational event, and the most important
tournament in American amateur golf outside of the
U.S. Amateur. With a grueling schedule, it's quite
hardest amateur tournament to win.
156 invited players come from across the
globe to play one of the toughest formats in
amateur golf. The tournament starts with 18
holes of stroke play on Tuesday and
Wednesday after which the field is cut to the
low 44 scores and ties. Thursday it's a long
day of 36 holes of stroke play to determine
the “Sweet Sixteen” who compete at Match
Play on Friday and Saturday (two matches
each day if you're going to the finals) to
decide the champion.
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