The Loop

Pac-12 playing well at Cherry Hills

August 16, 2012

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo.—__When the match-play portion of the 112th U.S. Amateur began Wednesday, seven of the 64 golfers hailed for Pac-12 schools. With the championship now down to quarterfinals, the conference still boasts four of the remaining eight competitors.

Washington's__Chris Williams__ and Cheng-Tsung Pan and California's Brandon Hagy and Michael Weaver survived Thursday's double duty, winning their second-round matches in the morning and third-round tilts in the afternoon.

Williams won his morning match with __Adam Stephenson__, 5 and 3, and then beating__Edouard Espana__ in the afternoon, 3 and 2. The Moscow, Idaho, native showed the same solid form that helped him win the Western Amateur earlier in the month and took over the No. 1 spot in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

"Luckily, I got up early in both of my matches and just kind of held that the whole way," said Williams. "You can lose holes very easily out here, so you've got to stay in the moment, and fortunately I did that."

Williams has made news at Cherry Hills CC for carrying his own bag throughout the week, one of the few golfers to do so. He was supposed to have his brother on the bag but a last-minute conflict prevented him from coming to Colorado. Since he works as his own caddie during college tournaments, Williams decided he could handle looping for himself here too.

Meanwhile, Williams' teammate, Pan, has a familiar person carrying his bag—Washington coach Matt Thurmond. The duo talked about working together earlier in the year. Thurmond thought Williams was all set with his brother, so he said yes to Pan, helping the rising sophomore beat__ Gavin Green__, 3 and 1, in the morning and__Andrew Presley__, 2 up.

This is the second time that Pan has reached the quarterfinals, the first coming in 2007 when the native of Chinese Taipei was just 15. Pan said he's a far different player from that time.

"All areas of my game have improved a lot," Pan said. "I've changed my swing. My short game is improving. My putting is getting much better. I'm getting mature."

Cal-Berkeley's Hagy wound up having the easiest day of any competitor Thursday, dispatching Paul Misko, 5 and 4, in the morning and beating Patrick Newcomb, 3 and 2, in the afternoon. One of the longest hitters in college, Hagy has had to be smart when playing in the altitude at Cherry Hills, using irons to play strategically off several tees and bombing driver on the par-5 fifth and 17th to give himself easy chances at reaching the green in two and possibly setting up eagle opportunities.

"I think I've got a big advantage here with my length," Hagy said. "So far, so good."

Conversely, Weaver had to sweat out both his matches Thursday, overcoming a 3-down deficit in the morning to beat Patrick Rodgers and then winning the 17th and 18th holes extend his third-round match with __ Albin Choi__ to extra holes, before making a birdie on the 19th to claim the victory.