'The Vagaries of Match Play' are winning so far at the U.S. Amateur
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — It hasn’t taken long for several of the more notable names competing at the 116th U.S. Amateur to crash into the business end of “the vagaries of match play.”
As the field at Oakland Hills Country Club was whittled from 64 match-play qualifiers to 32 after Wednesday’s first round, several college standouts found their week in Michigan come to an early end. Among the notables: Matthias Schwab (Vanderbilt) Scottie Scheffler (Texas), Gavin Hall (Texas) and Will Zalatoris (Wake Forest), along with 2015 quarterfinalist Austin James.
There wasn’t any less carnage on Thursday morning, either, as LSU’s Sam Burns, Alabama’s Davis Riley and Texas’ Doug Ghim were all taken out in the second round. Also going home were Alex Smalley (this year’s medalist), Dawson Armstrong (the No. 2 seed), Scott Gregory (the British Amateur champion) and Garrett Rank (an NHL referee and the last remaining Mid-Amateur in the field).
It’s not just the better-known players who are struggling to advance through the match-play bracket. It’s also—surprisingly—those who earned lower seeds in stroke play. After two match-play rounds, just one of the top eight players from the 36-hole qualifier (No.8 K.K. Limbhasut of Thailand) is still competing and only three of the top 16.
That’s not to say the rest of the field is devoid of talent. Sam Horsfield, the college freshman of the year at Florida who qualified for the U.S. Open this summer, easily won his second-round match, 5 and 4, over Doc Redman after shooting the equivalent of six-under 29 on the front nine.
Also still in the hunt: Cal-Berkeley’s Collin Morikawa, the Sunnehanna Amateur champ who finished runner-up at the Web.com Tour’s Air Capital Classic earlier in the summer; Brad Dalke, a standout junior golfer who starts his sophomore year at Oklahoma this fall; Curtis Luck of Australia, ranked No. 7 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking; and Joaquin Niemann of Chile, ranked No. 10.
However, if you’re tuning into Fox Sports’ coverage of the Amateur later this week, and you don’t recognize any of the names, don’t worry. You’re won’t be alone.