Bandon, Ore. – The two top-seeded players, medalist Corbin Mills and Jonathan Randolph, were among the eight golfers to win two matches at Old Macdonald on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
Conditions remained damp and calm through Thursday morning, but by the afternoon, the clouds broke and winds stiffened giving the 7,016-yard, par-71 layout some teeth.
Joining Mills and Randolph in Friday’s quarterfinals are San Diego State golfers Todd Baek and J.J. Spaun, University of Oregon players Daniel Miernicki and Andrew Vijarro, Harris English and Derek Ernst.
Mills, 21, of Easley, S.C., felt the shifting weather conditions favored his game.
“I was glad the winds finally picked up,” said the Clemson University junior, who carded a championship-best 67 at Old Macdonald in Tuesday’s final stroke-play qualifying round. “I prepared myself the whole week for this. My ball striking has been really good and as the conditions get a little tougher, I feel like it plays to my advantage.”
After edging John Peterson of Fort Worth, Texas, the reigning NCAA Division I champion from Louisiana State University, 1 up, on Thursday morning, Mills defeated Talor Gooch, of Midwest City, Okla., 4 and 2.
Mills dropped the opening hole to Gooch, but made key par saves to halve holes six through nine. On the inward nine, Mills won four of seven holes to close the match.
In the morning against Peterson, Mills needed a birdie on the 18th hole to advance. After Peterson drained a 20-foot eagle putt on the 17th to square the match, Mills stuck a pitching wedge from 145 yards to within 3 feet.
Mills, who had never played links golf before this week, received some tips and words of encouragement from Jordan Byrd, his assistant golf coach at Clemson and a quarterfinalist at the 2007 U.S. Mid-Amateur conducted at Bandon Dunes.
Second-seeded Jonathan Randolph, 22, of Brandon, Miss., continued his dominance, winning both his Thursday matches by 5-and-4 margins.
He defeated Alex Williams, the assistant golf coach at West Point, in the morning and Kevin Miller, a junior at Kent State University, in the afternoon. Randolph has not been taken past the 15th hole in any of his three matches thus far, playing only 43 holes – the fewest of any remaining competitor.
Randolph said that maintaining concentration has been the biggest factor for his success this week.
“You need to hit the correct portion of these greens,” said Randolph. “If you miss, you can end up with 100-foot putts, easily. It requires that you don’t lose focus for one shot.”
Last summer, Randolph was selected to represent the United States in the Palmer Cup that was played at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, another traditional links course.
“I learned a lot about course management and gained some important experience on a course that was really similar to this one,” said Randolph, who completed his eligibility at the University of Mississippi this spring. “It was very windy over there and there were a lot of bunkers you wanted to avoid. I think it gives me a little bit of an edge knowing the mentality you need to have in match play.”
Miernicki, Randolph’s Palmer Cup teammate, also posted a pair of wins on Thursday. The Santee, Calif., resident used second-nine surges in both his matches. He rallied from a 1-down deficit on the ninth tee to beat Jack Schultz, 4 and 3, in the third round. Earlier, he took control of an all-square encounter after six holes with Jesse Droemer to post a 6-and-5 win.
“I was 130 yards out on No. 7 and dunked a wedge,” said Miernicki, who won six of the final seven holes against Droemer. “That shot really gave me a big boost the rest of the day.”
Vijarro, the only Oregonian remaining in the field, never trailed in any of his two victories. The 21-year-old from Bend beat Chinese-born Minghao Wang, of Alpharetta, Ga., 3 and 2, in the morning and Robert Hoadley, of Southern Pines, N.C., 2 and 1, in the afternoon.
Vijarro, who won the 2009 Oregon Amateur at Bandon Dunes, played dominant golf against Hoadley, missing just one fairway. He assumed control of the match on the 13th when he drained a 40-foot putt with over 10 feet of break to stretch his lead to 3 up.
“Anytime you win anything it gives you confidence,” said Vijarro. “During the Amateur it was blowing 30 to 40 miles per hour the whole time. Now it’s starting to pick up so hopefully that will play into my favor tomorrow.”
Despite Hoadley’s third-round loss, the fact he made it to match play at all was no small accomplishment.
Hoadley opened his Monday qualifying round at Bandon Trails with two double bogeys and a triple bogey over his first four holes. He turned in 10-over 45, but played his final 27 holes in two under to qualify for match play.
“That front nine was kind of a ‘Welcome to Bandon Dunes [moment].’ I come from Pinehurst and I still feel like I’m on foreign land,” said Hoadley, who defeated 18-year-old Kevin Lee, of Cerritos, Calif., 5 and 4, before falling to Vijarro.
Similar to Hoadley, it did not appear that J.J. Spaun, of Los Angeles was going to be playing on Thursday either.
Spaun, 20, stood 3 down to Sean Maekawa, of Paauilo, Hawaii, with four holes to play in Wednesday’s first round, but won each of the last four holes to advance.
“I almost gave up all hope on No. 14 yesterday, but I was able to rally at the end and make it,” said Spaun.
In his Thursday morning round, Spaun got off to a much better start. He was the equivalent of six under par on the outward nine with normal match-play concessions and cruised to a 5-and-3 victory. In the afternoon, Spaun gave up over 40 yards off the tee to long-hitting Herbie Aikens, 29, of Pembroke, Mass., but turned a seeming disadvantage in his favor.
“Even though I was giving up all that distance, I just stuck to my game plan,” said Spaun. “I feel more comfortable hitting first and was able to put pressure on Herbie.”
Ernst, 21, of Clovis, Calif., continued his impressive play a day after making what is believed to be the first hole-in-one on a par 4 (eighth hole at Bandon Trails) in APL history. Ernst nearly aced the par-3 eighth at Old Macdonald, hitting an 8-iron within 2 feet for a kick-in birdie, during his 5-and-4 victory over Chris Mory, of Haslett, Mich., on Thursday morning.
Ernst followed with a 4-and-3 victory over the third-seeded Alex Edfort, of Somerset, N.J., in the afternoon session.
English, 21, of Athens, Ga., booked a trip to the quarterfinals of the APL for the second consecutive year.
English survived 37 holes on Thursday, outlasting 38-year-old Scott Kammann in 19 holes in the morning and 21-year-old James Erkenbeck, 1-up, in the afternoon.
Going forward, English said it is important for the players to pay attention to hole locations.
“If you’re not careful, you can have 50-yard-putts out here,” said English, who just completed his eligibility at the University of Georgia, where he helped the team to a runner-up finish at the 2011 NCAA Division I Championship. “You need to break the greens down in sections and make sure you trust your yardage, especially if the wind is up. I’ve definitely learned how to lag putt this week.”
After going 19 holes in each of his first two matches, T.J. Howe, 23, of Osceola, Pa., succumbed to Korean-born Todd Baek, of San Diego, Calif., 3 and 1.
Baek is one of four California residents to advance to the quarterfinals.
This year’s APL is being played concurrently at Bandon Dunes with the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. The WAPL field played its second- and third-round matches at Bandon Trails on Thursday. Medalist Cheyenne Woods advanced to quarterfinals with an 8-and-7 victory over Alex Stewart.
The APL and WAPL are two of the 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association.
Michael Trostel is the curator/historian at the USGA Museum. E-mail him at email@example.com.
Bandon, Ore. – Results for Thursday’s second and third rounds of match play at the 86th U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship being held at 7,016-yard, par-71 Old Macdonald at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
Round of 32
Corbin Mills, Easley, S.C. (138) def. John Peterson, Fort Worth, Texas (148), 1 upTalor Gooch, Midwest City, Okla. (145) def. T.J. Shuart, Coral Springs, Fla. (150), 2 and 1Andrew Vijarro, Bend, Ore. (149) def. Minghao Wang, Alpharetta, Ga. (151), 3 and 2Robert Hoadley, Southern Pines, N.C. (149) def. Kevin Lee, Cerritos, Calif. (151), 6 and 4 Harris English, Thomasville, Ga. (143) def. Scott Kammann, Baneberry, Tenn. (148), 19 holes James Erkenbeck, San Diego, Calif. (146) def. John Thompson, Coconut Creek, Fla., 1 up Herbie Aikens, Pembroke, Mass. (149) def. Paul McConnell, Garland, Texas (143), 2 and 1 J.J. Spaun, Los Angeles, Calif. (146) def. Eric Steger, Noblesville, Ind. (151), 5 and 3
Jonathan Randolph, Brandon, Miss. (141) def. Alex Williams, Cornwall On Hudson, N.Y. (148), 5 and 4Kevin Miller, Dover, Ohio (150) def. Nick MacDonald, Lebanon, N.H. (150), 4 and 3T.J. Howe, Osceola, Pa. (147) def. Maxwell Marsico, Las Vegas, Nev. (144), 19 holes Todd Baek, San Diego, Calif. (146) def. Kevin Rei, Chico, Calif. (149), 19 holesAlex Edfort, Somerset, N.J. (143) def. Harold Varner III, Gastonia, N.C. (149), 4 and 3Derek Ernst, Clovis, Calif. (145) def. Chris Mory, Haslett, Mich. (150), 5 and 3Jack Schultz, Whitefish Bay, Wis. (148) def. Chris Williams, Moscow, Idaho (144), 3 and 2 Daniel Miernicki, Santee, Calif. (146) def. Jesse Droemer, Sealy, Texas (151), 6 and 5
Round Of 16
Mills def. Gooch, 4 and 2
Vijarro def. Hoadley, 2 and 1
English def. Erkenbeck, 1 up
Spaun def. Aikens, 3 and 2
Randolph def. Miller, 5 and 4
Baek def. Howe, 3 and 1
Ernst def. Edfort, 4 and 3
Miernicki def. Schultz, 4 and 3
Bandon, Ore. – Pairings and starting times for Friday’s quarterfinal round of the 86th U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship being conducted at 7,016-yard, par-70 Old Macdonald at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. All times PDT. (Note: semifinal round at Old Macdonald to be played Friday afternoon)
8:10 a.m.: Corbin Mills, Easley, S.C. (138) vs. Andrew Vijarro, Bend, Ore. (149)
8:20 a.m.: Harris English, Thomasville, Ga. (143) vs. J.J. Spaun, Los Angeles, Calif. (146)
8:30 a.m.: Jonathan Randolph, Brandon, Miss. (141) vs. Todd Baek, San Diego, Calif. (146)8:40 a.m.: Derek Ernst, Clovis, Calif. (145) vs. Daniel Miernicki, Santee, Calif. (146)