Bandon, Ore. – Qualifying medalist Corbin Mills won his second-round match on Thursday at the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links.
The Easley, S.C., resident survived a battle with John Peterson, of Fort Worth, Tex., edging the reigning NCAA Division I champion from Louisiana State University, 1 up, at 7,016-yard, par-71 Old Macdonald at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
Mills, 21, won the first two holes, but the match stayed tight throughout. Peterson drained a 20-foot-putt for eagle on the par-5 17th to square the match, but Mills stuck a pitching wedge from 145 yards to within 3 feet on the closing hole for a conceded birdie to seal the victory.
“I knew playing [John] would be tough, but I was looking at it as he was just another guy,” said Mills, a Clemson University junior. “I stuck to the same game plan and it worked out.”
Mills, who had never played links golf before this week, got some tips and words of encouragement from Jordan Byrd, his assistant golf coach at Clemson, a quarterfinalist at the 2007 U.S. Mid-Amateur that was conducted at Bandon Dunes.
Mills faces Talor Gooch, a sophomore at Oklahoma State, in the third round Thursday afternoon.
Second-seeded Jonathan Randolph, 22, of Brandon, Miss., continued his dominance, winning his match, 5 and 4, over Alex Williams, of Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y.
Randolph said that maintaining concentration has 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.
“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 past spring. “It was very windy over there and there were a lot of bunkers you wanted to avoid. I think gives me a little bit of an edge knowing the mentality you need to have in match play.”
Randolph’s Palmer Cup teammate, Daniel Miernicki, also posted a second-round win Thursday morning.
Miernicki, a senior at the University of Oregon, was all-square with Jesse Droemer, from Sealy, Texas, through six holes when Miernicki holed a wedge from 130 yards at the seventh. He won six of the final seven holes for a 6-and-5 victory.
Fellow Duck and the only player from the state of Oregon remaining in the field, Andrew Vijarro, of Bend, also advanced. The 21-year-old Vijarro had a 4-up lead at the turn and held on to beat Chinese-born Minghao Wang, of Alpharetta, Ga., 3 and 2.
This spring, Vijarro was selected to the All Pacific-10 Conference team and won his local qualifier for this championship by five strokes. He also won the 2009 Oregon Amateur at Bandon Dunes. Despite taking a week off for his sister’s wedding in early June, Vijarro has maintained his exceptional play at Bandon Dunes.
Robert Hoadley, 20, of Southern Pines, N.C., barely advanced to match play at all.
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.’ 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
“I really couldn’t get any further down, so I just tried to stay positive. I came off the 18th hole that day and looked at everybody and said ‘I just shot the best 79 of my life’ because at one point, I didn’t know if I was going to break 100.”
Derek Ernst, 21, of Clovis, Calif., continued his impressive play at Bandon Dunes. A day after making a hole-in-one on the par-4 eighth hole at Bandon Trails, 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.
The oldest player remaining in the field, Scott Kammann, 38, of Baneberry, Tenn., fell to 2010 APL quarterfinalist Harris English, of Athens, Ga., in 19 holes.
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 their second round of match play at Bandon Trails on Thursday morning. Medalist Cheyenne Woods advanced to the third round with a 2 up victory over Bethany Wu.
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.