The Local Knowlege

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Comebacks abound in Round 2 at Cherry Hills

By Ryan Herrington

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo.—The second round of the 112th U.S. Amateur will be remembered as the morning Yogi Berra would have loved. Nothing was over until it was over at Cherry Hills CC.

Bobby Wyatt found himself 3 down to Matthew Stieger after five holes, but the Alabama junior rallied to square the match after 11 holes. Birdies on the 17 and 18 helped him secure a 2-up victory against his Australian opponent.

Justin Thomas, Wyatt's teammate at Alabama, lost the first two holes in his match against California's Max Homa, a quarterfinalist at the 2010 Amateur, and remained 2 down through seven holes. But then the 2012 NCAA player of the year won the next two holes to square the match at the turn, before winning the 15th, 16th and 17th to claim a 3-and-1 victory and setting up a third-round afternoon tilt against Wyatt.

Australia's Oliver Goss was 3 down after 10 against Michael Miller and 2 down after 15, but won 16 and 17 with birdies and then closed out his turn-around with a birdie on the 20th hole.

LSU's Andrew Presley made four birdies over his last eight holes to overcome a 3-down deficit to Oklahoma State's Talor Gooch and win 1 up.

Patrick Newcomb, a 22-year-old senior at Murray State, was also 3 down after 11 holes against Michael Herbert but extended the match to extra holes and then won with a bogey on the 19th hole.

None of them, though, was the most impressive comeback of the morning. That belonged to California redshirt junior Michael Weaver, who won four of his last six holes to defeat Stanford All-American Patrick Rodgers, 2 up.

Weaver's rally came only after he actually blew a lead of his own. The 21-year-old from Fresno, Calif., started solid, winning the first two holes, but saw Rodgers win four straight holes to take a 3-up lead after 11. While the momentum had changed, Weaver said he felt like he was playing well himself, and that he just needed to hang on and stay confident.

With that, Weaver rolled in a birdie putts on the 13th and 14th to get the deficit to 1 down. He then got up-and-down for par on the par-3 15th to square the match when Rodgers hit his tee shot into a greenside bunker.

The two halved the 16th after Weaver missed a seven-footer for birdie. Weaver's drive on the par-5 17th hit a tree, but bounced into the fairway, giving him a chance at reaching the green in two. That was more than Rodgers could say as his tee shot found a fairway bunker and sat close enough to a lip that he couldn't do anything other than hit a wedge back to the fairway with his second.

Weaver pull out a 4-iron and hit his second shot from 240 yards, the ball stopped 18 feet from the hole. "That was the best shot I've hit all day," Weaver said. "My day and I talked about going for it, even if I hit the ball in the water I could get up and down for par. His shot was no bargain."

Rodgers hit his third to eight feet, but couldn't hole the must make birdie try, letting Weaver's two-putt birdie give him a 1-up lead.

Come the 18th hole, Weaver successfully found the fairway but Rodgers draw off the tree moved too much right to left, rolling into the water and essentially sealing the win for Weaver.

"That was probably the best six holes I've played ever," said an appreciative Weaver afterward, who survived a 17-player-for-14-spot playoff Wednesday morning just to get into match play. "To pull it off, feels great. to be able to do it under the gun like that.

While the additional bragging rights of having a Cal golfer knock out a Stanford foe was nice, Weaver says the real pride came from beating such an accomplished foe.

"He's a very good player, a Walker Cupper and all that," Weaver said. "To win was really good. Hopefully I can keep up my good play in the afternoon."

*****

Weaver's third-round opponent Thursday afternoon is Albin Choi, an N.C. State junior and former Canadian Amateur champion who knocked off reigning NCAA champion Thomas Pieters in their second-round showdown, winning 4 and 3.
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