SAN FRANCISCO--Four days complete, three rounds left and for the final eight quarterfinalists at the 107th U.S. Amateur Championship the hardest thing right now is guarding against looking too far ahead. The spoils of winning the oldest amateur tournament in the country--invitations to the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open--are getting closer and closer into view, but there is still much work to do at Olympic Club.
"It's hard to stay focused and keep from thinking about all the stuff you're playing for," said Derek Fathauer, who knocked off medalist Jason Kokrak in the third round, 6 and 4, after beating U.S. Walker Cupper Chris Kirk, 7 and 6, in the morning's second-round match.
The 21-year-old Louisville senior knows from which he speaks. In July, he got to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links at Cantigny GC outside Chicago, and had a 2-up lead with five holes to play versus Cody Paladino, only lose the match on the 18th hole, making two bogeys on the final three holes. That experience, he said, has helped him stay more in the present this week.
Making it harder for the rest of the field too is the fact that this is as far as any of them have advanced in the tournament previously. Combined the final eight have played in 16 U.S. Amateurs but advanced to match play only four times previously.
The one with the most USGA experience remaining is Colt Knost, the reigning APL champion. The 22-year-old from Dallas beat Brendan Gielow, 3 and 2, in the second round, then took out the oldest remaining player in the field, 54-year-old George Zahringer, 2 and 1, in the afternoon's third round.
"Going through that week [at the APL] showed me a lot about myself," Knost said. "It gave me certain situations where I was down in matches and others way ahead and I learned kind of how to finish them off. I'm definitely going to rely on that experience."
With Canadian Nick Taylor taking out__Jamie Lovemark in their third-round match__, Knost is the only one of the eight U.S. Walker Cup players who remains in the field. (So much for building momentum into the matches.)
The only player left from the 17-player playoff for the final six match-play spots is Lamar senior Casey Clendenon, who defeated Jonathan Hodge, 2 and 1, and Andrew Putnam, 4 and 3, to join the Elite Eight. "I have nothing to lose, really," Clendenon said. "I just want to go out there and have some fun."
Arguably the marquee match-up of tomorrow's quarterfinals is Fathauer versus Michael Thompson, a former golfer at Tulane who transferred to Alabama when the New Orleans school suspended the program in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The two golfers are good friends and roomed together during this summer's Southern Amateur
10 a.m. PDT--Derek Fathauer vs. Michael Thompson
10:15 a.m. PDT--Eddie Olson vs. Casey Clendenon
10:30 a.m. PDT--Jhonattan Vegas vs. Cheng Tsung Pan
10:45 a.m. PDT--Colt Knost vs. Nick Taylor
Nick Taylor's run to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur comes less than a week after he claimed the Canadian Amateur title. The sophomore-to-be at Washington defeated Michael Knight in 38th holes at Riverside CC in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Sihwan Kim's consecutive win streak at Olympic Club came to an end at eight straight Thursday afternoon when he fell to Eddie Olson on the 19th hole of their third-round match. It was a little revenge for Olson, who lost to Kim in the California State Amateur earlier this summer.
Derek Fathauer's twin brother, Daryl, has stuck around after playing in stroke play qualifying here at Olympic Club. Despite the two be identical twins, it's easy to tell them apart, Daryl's hair tightly shaved while Derek's is long and shaggy. Derek hasn't gotten his hair cut since spring break in March.