U.S. Amateur: 18th hole penalty shocker helps set Elite Eight
13 Aug 2020
by Brayden Conover of AmateurGolf.com

see also: View results for U.S. Amateur, Ridgewood Country Club, Tyler Strafaci Rankings

Tyler Strafaci was a stunned winner after a rules mishap (USGA)
Tyler Strafaci was a stunned winner after a rules mishap (USGA)

The Elite Eight is set following two rounds of play in more than breezy conditions at Bandon Dunes.

The course was the star on Thursday, especially in the afternoon as the usual stiff winds produced some unusual shots which made for very compelling match play scenarios.

Related: August Madness? A statistical look at the U.S. Amateur bracket

In the end, however, what most will be talking about was the end of the Tyler Strafaci - Segundo Oliva Pinto match, where a bizarre rules violation on the 18th hole made the difference.

The morning recap can be found at this link. Here are the highlights from a wild afternoon at Bandon Dunes:

A Walk-off penalty

Georgia Tech’s Tyler Strafaci faced a pair of Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday. In the Round of 32, Strafaci squared up against Julian Perico, defeating him 2&1, setting up a match with Perico’s soon-to-be roommate Segundo Oliva Pinto.

Holding no more than a 2 up lead for 11 holes throughout the day, Oliva Pinto fought back with wins on Nos. 13 and 16 to get the match back to all square. With the match tied on the 18th, Oliva Pinto hit his approach into a greenside bunker, while Strafaci was just off the front of the green. As sometimes happens at Bandon, the wind had blown much of the sand in the bunker, so that Oliva Pinto's ball was on an exposed spot where sand had been displaced.

It was then that Oliva Pinto's caddy stepped into the bunker and reached down to the sand, appearing to brush the surface multiple times with his hand. A rules official was called over, and though the caddy denied that he was testing the sand, television replays clearly showed him doing so.

The penalty for this is loss of hole, so just like that the match was over and Strafaci was declared the winner.

On the broadcast, a stunned Strafaci was clearly upset to see the match end in such a fashion.

“I just feel so bad for him,” Strafaci said while holding back emotions. “That was one of the best matches I’ve ever played, just back and forth. He’s a great kid and he played great, we both played great. And for that to happen I just feel really bad for him.”

When asked how he would move forward, Strafaci replied “I’m going to make it [the win] worth something. I’m going to go out tomorrow and try to win my match and keep moving.”

Olvia Pinto was preparing for the shot, unaware of his caddy’s actions.

“At this point, it doesn’t really matter,” Oliva Pinto said. “What happened happened. He can say anything, but it won’t change what happened.”

“I’ll definitely try to use the positives I learned this week.”

Strafaci will face the red-hot mid-am Stewart Hagestad as he tries to put Thursday’s finish behind him.

A Run at History

Stewart Hagestad, the 2016 U.S. Mid-Am champion, is playing for more than a win at Bandon Dunes. Playing in his 20th USGA championship and 10th U.S. Amateur, the two-time Walker Cup team member became the first to secure his spot into Friday’s quarterfinals.

Currently No. 15 in the WAGR rankings, Hagestad is looking to play his way into the U.S. Open. With qualifying non-existent this year due to COVID-19, the USGA created exemptions for the top seven amateurs in the WAGR rankings. So far, Hagestad’s efforts are looking good. Claiming a 4&3 victory over Harrison Ott who took out this year’s medalist Wilson Furr in Thursday’s morning session, Hagestad continues his quest to become just the second player to win both the U.S. Mid-Am and U.S. Amateur in his career.

Jay Sigel is the only player to do so, winning the Amateur in 1982 and 1983 and the Mid-Am in 1983, ‘85, and ‘87. Hagestad also has an opportunity to become the first mid-am to win the U.S. Amateur since John Harris did so at 43-years-old in 1993.

Ollie, not Ozzy

SMU’s Charles ‘Ollie’ Osborne is seeking to join the likes of Bryson DeChambeau as the fifth Mustang to win the U.S. Amateur.

Halving just once and dropping No. 7 to Carson Lundell, Osborne took a 6 up lead as the pair made the turn. Far from a road to nowhere, Osborne kept applying pressure. Halving the 10th and losing the 11th, Osborne sealed the deal with a birdie on the 138 par-3 12th and a par on the par-5 13th, punching his ticket to face Arizona State’s Cameron Sisk Friday afternoon.

Sisk-ty Six

Cameron Sisk is living right. Coming off a 79 in the opening round of stroke-play, Sisk carded a 66 to get into the 18-man playoff for the final three match play spots. The first one to emerge from the playoff, Sisk took the 62-seed, a seed that has good vibes in recent history. Doc Redman rode the 62-seed all the way to the championship in 2017.

Related: The U.S. Amateur stroke play playoff: survive and thrive

Sisk continued his streak of hot play with a 4 up win over over West Virginia’s Matthew Sharpstene with a 25-foot dagger that cut through the wind on the highly exposed greens that have wreaked havoc all week at Bandon.

Aman Corner

Oklahoma State’s Aman Gupta is keeping head coach Alan Bratton’s caddying resume in tip-top shape. In search of becoming the third Cowboy to win the U.S. Amateur with Bratton on the bag, Gupta took down Texas A&M’s Sam Bennett. Bennett could not buy a putt in the windy conditions on the back nine, burning edges on four putts inside 10-feet. Never looking comfortable over the ball while trying to calculate both break and wind, the most painful lip-out came on the 14th to keep the match at 3 up in favor of Gupta. Clinching the match on the par-3 15th, Gupta moves on to the quarterfinals and will face Michael Thorbjornsen.

Drop the Hammer

Michael Thorbjornsen continues to roll. After defeating Sweden’s Hugo Townsend in the morning, the incoming Stanford freshman took on one of two Argentinians to make the Sweet 16.

Maintaining a consistent lead over Mateo Fernandez de Oliviera, Thorbjornsen was 2 up at the halfway point. Getting back to his winning ways, Thorbjornsen built his lead to 4 up. Attempting a comeback, Fernandez de Oliviera grabbed wins on Nos. 12 and 15 thanks to clutch putts. However, it was Thorbjornsen who got the win on No. 16 after flirting with the coastline off the tee for a two-putt par and a Friday tee time with Gupta.

Slow & Steady

LSU's Philip Barbaree and Pepperdine's William Mouw rounded out the day as the last match to close out the eventful day at Bandon.

Putting lights out all week, Barbaree took momentum early from Mouw as he grabbed a 2 up lead through No. 9.

The Pepperdine Wave was not going to go down without a fight as Mouw rallied with par wins on Nos. 11 and 12 to bring the match back to all square. Just as it looked as though Mouw was going to complete the comeback to continue his solid summer, Barbaree shut the door winning three of the final five holes thanks to some creative shot-making but despite having to make a difficult bogey putt on 17 to close it out.

Barbaree faces Matthew Sharpstene in the quarterfinals Friday afternoon.

Sharp as a Knife

Matthew Sharpstene was a quiet assassin on Thursday. While the 'big names' and controversy took the headlines and much of the TV broadcast, Sharpstene was methodical in his 4&3 win over Davis Chatfield.

Losing only one hole in the match, Sharpstene was 1-over through 15 despite the brutally windy conditions. Playing smart and not forcing anything, Sharpstene can be one to keep your eye on Friday, and possibly even Saturday.

Live coverage of the quarterfinals begins at 6:00 pm EST on NBC's free live streaming app Peacock and will switch over to the Golf Channel at 7:00 pm EST.

Results: U.S. Amateur
WinFLTyler StrafaciDavie, FL2000
Runner-upNVCharles (Ollie) OsborneReno, NV1500
SemifinalsNCAman GuptaConcord, NC1000
SemifinalsNCMatt SharpsteneAsheville, NC1000
QuarterfinalsNYStewart HagestadNew York City, NY700

View full results for U.S. Amateur

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 event, which has no age restriction, is open to those with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent amateur competition in the world. Applications are typically placed online in the spring at www.usga.org.

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