PACIFIC PALISADES, CA (August 16, 2017) - Thirteen players met at the 10th tee of Riviera Country Club early Wednesday morning to compete for the final eight available match play spots.
The players were split into three groups, and after each played the famed driveable par four, seven of the eight spots were won, while two players were eliminated. The four remaining players went to the par-three 14th to battle for the last spot, and it was there that a birdie two ended the proceedings.
Related: What You Need to Know About the U.S. Amateur Playoff
Here's how it unfolded Wednesday morning:
Group 1, 7:30am
(El Cajon, CA), Matt Oshrine
(Baltimore, MD), Brendon Jelley
(Tulsa, OK), Doc Redman
The hole location was in the back right of the shallow angled green, making an eagle two extremely unlikely, but also bringing in the possibility of higher numbers should someone get on the wring side of the tiny target. The distance was 280 yards to the front left edge of the green.
Hitting first off the tee, Vrzich took driver and found the front bunker. Oshrine also hit driver and got a hard left kick toward the trees and higher grass. Jelley took a different approach, laying up with an iron left and positioning himself for a wedge approach. Redman attempted to drive the green and missed long and left.
From 78 yards, Jelley hit a spinning wedge that hung on to the back edge of the green. Oshrine had to punch it under the trees left but ran the ball left in to the back bunker. Redman was long left of the green and attempted to pitch the ball over the bunker but left it short and watched it roll back into the fairway cut. Vrzich hit a beautiful shot from the front bunker to a green sloping away from him and the ball finished just eight feet behind the hole.
Redman's next pitch was a good one, stopping just a few feet away. Oshrine hit a nice bunker shot to seven feet above the hole. Jelley's fifteen foot birdie putt was just short and he tapped in for par. Vrzich quickly stepped up and rolled in his eight-footer for birdie. Oshrine's par putt slid by on the right side, giving him a bogey five. Redman rolled in his putt for par.
Scores: Vrzich 3, Jelley 4, Redman 4, Oshrine 5
Group 2, 7:42am
(England), Chris Crisologo
(Canada), David Kocher
(Charlotte, NC), Billy Walthouse
Ellis attempted to drive the green and pulled his shot far left. Crisologo also took on the green and found the front bunker. Kocher chose a hybrid and positioned himself well in the fairway. Walthouse also took hybrid and found the fairway.
From 86 yards, Kocher tried to spin a wedge to the back pin but is bounced hard and trickled into the back bunker. Walthouse was a little closer and hit a nice wedge to just a couple paces short right of the hole. From the high grass well left and behind a tree, Ellis' pitch caught the tree and fell under it. Crisologo's bunker shot didn't have the spin required to stay on the sloping green, and his ball found the back bunker, just inches from Kocher's ball.
Ellis attempted to play a running shot for his third and left it short. Crisologo blasted his shot to ten feet above the hole. Kocher also blasted long, about twelve feet above the hole. Ellis pitched his fourth shot to ten feet.
Kocher's putt slid by on the left side and he tapped in for bogey. Crisologo's putt from the same line also missed, and he too made bogey. Ellis' ten footer missed resulting in an unfortunate double bogey. From above the hole, Walthouse also missed, but tapped in for par.
Scores: Walthouse 4, Crisologo 5, Kocher 5, Ellis 6
Group 3, 7:54am
(New Hartford, NY), Jacob Solomon
(Auburn, AL), Braden Thornberry
(Olive Branch, MS), Chun An Yu
(Chinese Taipei), Scottie Scheffler
Bard hit a low long-iron shot to the left side of the fairway, leaving a good angle. Solomon followed suit with an iron and also found the fairway. Thornberry hit the best tee shot of the morning, cutting a driver to the front left edge of the green. Yu hit a three-wood left of the green near the trees. Scheffler hit a 2-iron but overcut it slightly leaving a tougher angle into the front-left to back-right angled green.
From 90 yards and a good angle, Bard hit a beautiful wedge shot to just a few feet away. From the same distance but a far worse angle, Scheffler went straight at the pin but left it short in the front bunker, buried. Solomon tried to spin a wedge from just over 80 yards but saw it trickle long into the sand. Yu had a clear pitch from left of the green and left it pin-high within a few paces of the hole. Thornberry hit a nice putt to about three feet.
Scheffler left his ball in the front bunker, while Solomon blasted out to eight feet under the hole. Scheffler's next bunker shot trickled long into the back bunker. Knowing he had to hole out to continue to the next playoff hole, Scheffler had the pin pulled but blasted long. His fifteen foot double bogey putt dropped but too late to do any good.
Solomon missed his par putt left and made bogey. Yu rolled in his birdie putt and gave a fist pump of relief. Thornberry rolled in his short birdie putt, as did Bard.
Scores: Thornberry 3, Yu 3, Bard 3, Solomon 5, Scheffler 6
Summary of the first hole
The Scoreboard Tells the Story
As it so often does in the PGA Tour's Genesis Open, the 10th hole at Riviera was the great separator, as those with playing their shots with precision made it through, and those who were just a little off paid the price.
It doesn't seem to matter what strategy you take off of the tee, you still have to be precise. We saw players lay up and make 3, and lay up and make 6. We saw players hit it in the front bunker and make 3 and others make 5. Players left of the green made anywhere from 3 to 6. In the end, par was good enough to advance on a 300-yard par four.
What a great starting hole for a playoff to narrow down the field. Indeed, after the 13 players finished, seven of the eight spots were earned, two players eliminated, and the remaining four off to the par-three 14th to play for the final match play spot.
Advanced to Match Play: Vrzich, Thornberry , Yu, Bard, Jelley, Redman, Walthouse
Advanced to the next playoff hole: Oshrine, Crisologo, Kocher, Solomon
Eliminated: Ellis, Scheffler
Second Playoff Hole
Chris Crisologo Sneaks it in the Left Side to Advance
The hole was cut to the far side of the 179-yard par three 14th. Oshrine hit his tee shot just off the green long left, on the fringe against the edge of the rough. He hit a nice putt just past the hole.
Kocher's tee shot was errant and he pitched the ball to the fringe about 18 feet from the hole. He managed to roll the putt in for par.
Solomon found the bunker short right and blasted out to a few paces from the hole.
Crisologo hit a brilliant iron shot to about six feet from the hole and had a six footer to advance to match play. He curled it into the left side of the cup and took the last spot, earning a tee time against the stroke play medalist Hayden Wood later in the day.
Scores: Crisologo 2, Kocher 3, Oshrine DNF, Solomon DNF
Advanced to Match Play: Crisologo
Eliminated: Kocher, Oshrine, Solomon
The playoff was tidy, wrapping up after only two holes; the USGA had to be happy about that as these playoffs have lasted many holes in the past.
The USGA did the eight playoff qualifiers the favor of putting them at the end of the day's slate of matches, but it also means having to kill time, cooling down and gearing up again before the start of their matches. It also means that each of these eight will be playing one of the eight top seeds, so it will be a long, difficult day of golf in a week full of long, difficult days.
Of course once match play starts, anything can and usually does happen.