Martin reaches semifinals, and lets dad breathe easier
TULSA, OKLA.--Jim Martin has got a good story to tell about the time he caddied for his son, Ben, at the 109th U.S. Amateur. At least it's good now in hindsight. Had Ben not defeated__David Lingmerth__, 2 and 1, in their quarterfinal match Friday at Southern Hills ... well lets just say Papa Martin would rather not think about that.
"I knew the moment I did it that I was in trouble," said Jim, who created some panic when he mistakenly raked his son's ball mark in a bunker on the fifth hole while the ball was still in the hazard. The rules breach cost Ben a loss-of-hole penalty, causing him to go 2 down.
"I just happened to turn around right when he was doing it and said, 'No,' but I couldn't catch him," Ben said. "I know he felt terrible about it. I just told him, 'Forget about it and let's keep going.' "
Indeed, the fifth-year senior at Clemson, whose previous claim to fame had been having his name appear on the leader board early in the first round of the U.S. Open last June, used the moment to compose himself after a shaky start.
"I walked to the back of the [next] tee and said, 'All right. Let's forget about that and hit a good shot here.' "
Three holes later, Martin had squared the match and never trailed again en route to victory and a spot in Saturday's semifinals.
Martin admitted his game wasn't as sharp as he would have liked it to be--he made seven bogeys to three birdies--but a win is a win.
The same goes for Bhavik Patel, who also made seven bogeys during his quarterfinal match with__Phillip Mollica__, but somehow managed to beat former North & South Amateur champion, 1 up.
Key to Patel's victory was his conceded birdie to win the par-3 14th hole and square his match after his tee shot stopped just on the lip of the hole. "I actually hit [the ball] on the toe, and I thought it was going to be way short," Patel said. "Luckily it ended up just bouncing shot and running up to the hole."
Set to begin his sophomore year at Fresno State, Patel has almost no experience playing in national amateur events. He tried to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Public Links, but was an alternate. Aside from some local tournaments near his home in Bakersfield, Calif., the 18-year-old has had a quiet summer up to now. If he could win two more matches, however, he'll have invitations to the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open, as well as a spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team.
"It's an awesome feeling," said Patel of just reaching the semifinals. "It still hasn't sunk in yet."
Patel's near ace might not have even been the best shot of the day. Charlie Holland's 7-iron approach shot from 172 yards on the par-4 first, after he and__Peter Uihlein__ remained all square in their quarterfinal match through 18 holes, landed six feet from the cup before trundling to two inches. Uihlein conceded the birdie, and when his 30-foot try raced by the hole, Holland lived to play another day.
Truth be told, Holland thought he had lost the match one hole earlier. On the difficult par-4 18th, Holland and Uihlein both hit their approach shots short of the green, Holland's landing in the front right bunker. Uihlein chipped his third shot to eight feet while Holland's stopped 12 feet short but on the same line. Holland missed his par try, but figured he had given Uihlein a perfect read and that he would no doubt hole his par attempt.
"I took my hat off, and I was ready to shake his hand," said Holland, who was lost in the quarterfinal round last year at the Amateur. "I was hot, and I thought it was done, no question. He putted good all day."
Uihlein, however, didn't hit the putt hard enough, the ball coming up short and left. "My caddied just told me, 'you're still in it,'" Holland said. "'Be patient and stay positive.'"
The last of the four semifinalists is Byeong-Hun An, a 17-year-old South Korean native who has spent the past 3 1/2 years in Florida playing at the David Leadbetter Academy. Han needed 21 holes to defeat__Steve Ziegler__, but only because he made bogeys on the 17th and 18th holes to squander a 2-up lead.
If An should go on to win the championship, he would become the youngest golfer to claim the title.
9 a.m.--__Charlie Holland vs. Ben Martin
__9:15 a.m.--__Bhavik Patel vs. Byeong-Hun An