Uihlein wins Cowboy quarterfinal shootout
__UNIVERSITY PLACE, WASH.--There wasn't any triumphant fist pump from__Peter Uihlein on the 18th green at Chambers Bay GL, no outward display of elation for having won his quarterfinal match at the U.S. Amateur Championship and advancing one step closer to holding the Havemeyer Trophy.
Having defeated Morgan Hoffmann, his college roommate at Oklahoma State the last two years, all Uihlein could do is reach out his hand and give his opponent a hug.
"It's bittersweet. I just took out one of my best friends," said Uihlein, a 1-up winner who faces UCLA incoming freshman Patrick Cantlay in the semifinals. "It's hard because seeing him after, he wasn't happy."
If you think it was difficult for the players, consider how Alan Bratton felt. The OSU assistant coach has been caddieing for Uihlein all week and had to watch as two of his top players faced-off.
"I told both of them last night, they needed to try to thump each others same as they would anyone else," Bratton said. "I was really proud of them though. They played great."
Indeed, both Cowboys brought their All-American caliber games Friday morning, making a collective eight birdies and one eagle during a round in which neither golfer held more than a 1-up lead.
Throughout the match, the two were gracious with concessions on the greens, a conscious decision on both parts. "We both kind of wanted to control the match in our hands," Uilhein said. "So if I had a two-footer for par and he had a six-footer for birdie, he would give it to me because he wanted to be the one to make the putt. I was doing the same thing to him as well."
Case in point: on the 18th green Uihlein held a 1-up lead and faced a five-foot putt for par as Hoffmann rolled his 15-foot birdie try three feet past the hole. Before Hoffmann could get to the cup, Uihlein had already given him the par putt, setting up a must-make putt of his own to win the match. The 20-year-old calmed rolled the ball into the center of the hole for the victory.
While Hoffmann had cruised through his opening matches, a few stumbles on the greens against Uihlein proved costly. Three-putts on the ninth and 12th holes caused him to lose both.
"We each put pressure on each other," Hoffmann said. "But I didn't really give myself many opportunities."
Still, the match was all square as they played the 16th hole, with both players having birdie chances on the 397-yard par 4. Hoffmann missed his 15-foot attempt to the right while Uihlein rolled in a eight footer to take a 1-up advantage that would prove decisive.
"The fact is one of us had to lose." Hoffmann said. "Hopefully He goes on and wins it for our team."
For the first time since Tiger Woods in 1996, the defending U.S. Amateur champion has advanced to the semifinals.
That Byeong-Hun An is among the four players left at Chambers Bay probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise, except if you had talked to An himself only a few weeks ago. After playing in nine professional events, making just one cut, the 18-year-old who missed his first day of classes at Cal Berkeley yesterday admitted to being a bit burned out only a few weeks before arriving in the Pacific Northwest.
Yet An, who knocked off future Cal teammate Max Homa, 1 up, Friday afternoon, has regained some confidence this week.
"I've definitely passed my goal [for the week]," An said. "I just wanted to get into match play."
An takes a perfect 10-0 U.S. Amateur match-play record with him when faces David Chung, arguably the hottest player in the field entering the tournament, in their semifinal match Saturday. Chung defeated NCAA champion Scott Langley, 1 up, setting up a chance for him to claim the Porter Cup, Western Amateur and U.S. Amateur titles in the same summer.
While the Havemeyer Trophy isn't up for grabs until Sunday, there's a fair amount on the line in the semifinals. The winner of the matches will receive an exemption into the U.S. Open at Congressional CC next June and a likely invitation to the Masters as well.
__8:30 a.m. (PDT)--David Chung vs. Byeong-Hun An
8:45 a.m.--Patrick Cantlay vs. Peter Uihlein