Hammer tops Riley for Western Amateur title
Cole Hammer (WGA photo)
Cole Hammer (WGA photo)

NORTHFIELD, Ill. (Aug. 4, 2018) – Winning the Western Amateur requires a little endurance, and Cole Hammer, an incoming University of Texas freshman, has proved he has it. Hammer became the sixth 18-year-old to win the prestigious amateur event, joining last year’s winner Norman Xiong as well as Tiger Woods (1994).

Hammer defeated Davis Riley on the 18th hole of Saturday’s final match at Sunset Ridge Golf Club to take the honor. It comes just two weeks after Hammer advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Junior. Hammer, together with partner Garrett Barber, became a USGA champion at the start of the summer with a victory at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.

“Surreal,” said Hammer, whose mother, Allison, served as his caddie all week. “Biggest day in my golf career, no question.”

In the final, Hammer go an early 1-up lead with a birdie at No. 3. Riley, an Alabama senior, trailed for the rest of the round until ultimately running out of holes.

Hammer was as far as 4 up at the turn, but Riley chipped away at that lead on the back nine. Riley won the 11th when Hammer made bogey, then won the 12th with a birdie. Davis trimmed Hammer’s lead down to 1 up at the 16th but the two matched pars on Nos. 17 and 18, which resulted in a Hammer victory.

“I had faith in what I was doing,” Riley said. “I stayed patient, and I was good enough to make a charge. I knew I could do it. I hit some good shots and made some birdies.” Riley got as far as the Western Amateur semifinals in 2016, but this was his first trip to the final. Hammer, meanwhile, missed the 36-hole cut at this event a year ago.

In the morning's semifinals, Hammer beat Brandon Wu, of Scarsdale, N.Y., in 20 holes, while Riley defeated Tyler Strafaci, of Davie, Fla., 4 and 2. It was the second match Hammer needed 20 holes to win. Meanwhile, Riley, a senior at Alabama, hadn’t played past No. 16 in match play.

Hammer has been in Western headlines all week, starting with his opening round of 6-under 65. That round included no bogeys, and he described it as “stress free” at the end of the day. He dove to 10-under 61 in the third round of stroke play, setting a new course record at Sunset Ridge. He added a fourth and final stroke-play round in the 60s that afternoon and easily advanced as the top seed.

Hammer also becomes the sixth Longhorn to win the event, and the first since Beau Hossler won in 2014.

“It was a really special week from start to finish,” Hammer said.

Both Hammer and Riley will compete in the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, on Aug. 13-19.

Results: Western Amateur
WinTXCole HammerHouston, TX150065-68-61-67=261
Runner-upMSDavis RileyHattiesburg, MS120066-68-63-72=269
SemifinalsNYBrandon WuScarsdale, NY90066-69-67-64=266
SemifinalsFLTyler StrafaciDavie, FL90066-68-66-67=267
QuarterfinalsGASpencer RalstonGainesville, GA70063-66-69-70=268

View full results for Western 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 possibly the 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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