Davis Riley (Alabama Athletics photo)
NORTHFIELD, Ill. (Aug. 3, 2018) – Davis Riley is getting a second chance at the Western Amateur title. Riley, a senior at Alabama, made it to the semifinals in 2016, when the tournament was hosted at Knollwood Club in Lake Forest, Ill.. but the Hattiesburg, Miss., bowed out on the final day. He’s hoping for a different ending on Saturday.
On Friday, Riley had to get past Min Woo Lee, of Perth, Australia, and Hayden Springer of Trophy Club, Texas, to get another shot at semifinal glory. Riley made it look easy – he didn’t have to play past No. 15 in either match.
“I had to kick myself in gear because a player as good as Min Woo will take advantage of silly mistakes,” he said. “In the afternoon, I made another stupid bogey. But I got it together.”
Riley will meet Tyler Strafaci in the second semifinal match on Saturday morning. Two years ago in the semifinals, Riley lost to Sam Horsfield despite being 2 up with six holes to play.
“Maybe tomorrow I take a deep breath and slow it down when things aren’t going my way, or even if they are going my way,” Riley said.
Strafaci, meanwhile, beat Kaiwen Liu, 2 up, in the quarterfinals after earning a 1-up victory over Isaac Merry in the Round of 16. Merry recently graduated from New Mexico State.
Strafaci’s grandfather, Frank Strafaci, made match play at the Western Amateur in 1937, 1952 and 1953. He was the medalist in 1953. Strafaci is a Georgia Tech junior who qualified for the U.S. Open earlier this summer.
Brandon Wu completed a remarkable comeback in his 1-up win over Vanderbilt’s John Augenstein in 19 holes on Friday afternoon. A senior at Stanford, Wu was 2 down as he stood on the 17th tee. He won that hole with a par, and he sunk a 12-foot putt for birdie on No. 18 to extend the match.
Wu won the match by making a birdie from four feet on the first extra hole. It was the first time he led during the match.
“No. 17 was a big momentum shift, but I was still 1 down, and I could lose on 18,” he said. “After I won 18, I definitely felt like I had all of the momentum.”
Wu beat Kyle Michel, of Shepparton, Australia, 6 and 5, in the Round of 16 on Friday morning.
The fourth and final player to reach the semis was Cole Hammer, the stroke-play co-medalist. Hammer continued his good player from Thursday – when he fired a course-record 10-under 61 in the third round of stroke play – by defeating Davis Shore in 20 holes and then topping Georgia’s Spencer Ralston, 1 up to reach the quarterfinals.
Hammer and Wu will meet in Saturday's opening semifinal match at 8 a.m.
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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