Cole Hammer (USGA photo)
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (Aug. 14, 2018) – There was considerable unfinished business left at the U.S. Amateur on Tuesday when the sun set on stroke play. Even though only one spot remains on the 64-man match-play bracket, 24 players are in the mix for it. They’ll all return Wednesday morning for a sudden-death playoff that could take a good portion of the morning.
Until then, co-medalist Daniel Hillier, who drew the No. 1 seed, awaits his opponent.
Hillier and Cole Hammer co-medaled at 6 under for 36 holes, but more eyes were likely on Hammer. With his stroke-play medal, the 18-year-old joined an elite group to top stroke play at both the Western Amateur (a tournament that Hammer went on to win two weeks ago) and the U.S. Amateur in the same year. Those players include H. Chandler Egan, Chick Evans, Bobby Jones, Scott Verplank and now Hammer.
It’s been quite a season for Cole Hammer, starting with an Azalea Amateur win, then a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball win and then the biggest of all, the coveted Western Amateur victory.
“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well. Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots has become really a strength in my game,” Hammer said. “I've really kind of turned the putter on this year and I'm seeing the lines and kind of matching the line with the speed really well.”
Hammer went bogey-free in his 4-under 68 at Pebble Beach.
Playing Spyglass Hill in one of the final groupings, Andrew Alligood of St. Johns, Fla., rallied late in the day with three birdies on the back. His 5-under 67 moved him to 5 under, good for solo third.
Alligood, who also played last year’s U.S. Amateur, barely leap-frogged reigning U.S. Junior champion Michael Thorbjornsen, who had four birdies in his final 10 holes at Spyglass for 3-under 69.
Thorbjornsen only gained entry into this tournament by winning the U.S. Junior at the end of last month. His family scrambled to get him here, with the help of friends, and book last-minute accommodations in Pebble Beach. The learning curve is never-ending this summer, considering that Thorbjornsen drew a pairing alongside Scott Harvey, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, and senior Sean Knapp, who won last year’s U.S. Senior Amateur. But Thorbjornsen had eyes only for the task at hand.
“I was actually pretty zoned out. Just focusing on my own game,” Thorbjornsen said. “I mean, you really need all the attention you can get on this -- I mean, these two golf courses being pretty hard really took all my attention.
The first two days of this championship are truly just about making match play. Stewart Hagestad, the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, shaved 10 shots from Spyglass to Pebble Beach. His bogey-free 5-under 66 at Pebble Beach was the round of the tournament so far, and it put him safely onto the bracket.
St. Louis-based mid-amateur Skip Berkmeyer pulled a similar magic act, closing with an eagle and two pars at Spyglass for a 3-under 69 that bumped him out of the playoff and into the next stage.
The next magic act will come Wednesday morning. It will take nothing short of that to emerge from the 24-player crowd and move on to match play.
ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur
The U.S. Amateur, the oldest USGA
championship, was first played in 1895 at
Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island. The
which has no age restriction, is open to
with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is
of 14 national championships conducted
annually by the USGA, 10 of which are
for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent
competition in the world.
Applications are typically placed online in the spring
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