Bandon, Ore. – Qualifying medalist Corbin Mills will face Derek Ernst
in the 36-hole final of the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
Mills, of Easley, S.C., outdueled fellow 21-year-old Harris English,
of Thomasville, Ga., 5 and 3, at Old Macdonald to book his
spot in Saturday’s championship match.
In Friday afternoon’s other semifinal, Ernst,
21, of Clovis, Calif.,
Randolph, 22, of Brandon, Miss.,
3 and 2.
Damp and calm conditions that dominated throughout much of
the week gave way to abundant sunshine and a brisk northerly wind on Friday
that at times gusted more than 30
miles per hour at the 7,016-yard, par-71 layout.
It has been 11 years since the qualifying medalist took home
the James D. Standish
trophy – former Clemson standout D.J. Trahan in 2000 – but the odds appear to
be in Mills’ favor this week. Of the four previous APL
championships conducted in Oregon,
the medalist has won three times.
Wearing his Clemson colors, Mills, did not lose a hole in
his 4-and-3 quarterfinal victory over Bend’s
Andrew Vijarro, the only Oregonian to advance to
“I made a lot of pars and with conditions like this, pars
will win a lot of holes,” said Mills. “The wind
dried the greens out and they were a lot faster today. I like them a lot.”
In his afternoon match, Mills won
jumped ahead early, winning holes four and five to go 3 up against English.
Then it was simply a matter of surviving the howling wind.
“It was brutal,” said Mills. “I thought
it would blow, but, man, it blew really hard. I’ve never played in wind like
this. I mean the wind affected your putts.”
Saturday’s championship will be Mills’ first 36-hole match.
What is he doing to prepare?
“Well, I’ve been going to the same pizza joint all week,”
said Mills. “It’s been working, so I better stick
with it, right?”
One might not know it from his exceptional play, but Mills has been battling several health issues over the past
First, he developed an ear infection two days before leaving
for Bandon Dunes. Then, he missed his scheduled flight from South Carolina on Wednesday. He was able to
catch a flight the following day, but developed pink eye, for which he is still
“I haven’t been able
to hear out of my left ear the whole week,” said Mills.
“I don’t know if all this has me in some sort of zone, but whatever it is, it’s
Ernst is no
stranger to USGA championships. The 2011 APL
is Ernst’s eighth championship, a
total which includes the last four U.S. Amateurs. He advanced to the round of
16 at the 2007 Amateur at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Ernst did not make
any dramatic hole-in-ones on Friday, as he did at the par-4 eighth at Bandon
Trails during the first round of match play on Wednesday. But the reigning
Mountain West Conference champion from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas led
from start-to-finish in both his matches at Old Macdonald on Friday.
In the morning, Ernst,
who will be a senior this fall, four-putted the par-5 sixth and three-putted
holes seven and eight, but his opponent, Daniel Miernicki,
of Santee, Calif., could never square the match. After
Miernicki conceded the ninth hole when he hit his drive into the gorse, Ernst
rolled in a 15-foot-putt for birdie on No. 10 and a 12-footer for par on No. 11
to stretch his lead to 4-up.
“Those putts were huge for my confidence,” said Ernst. “After that I was able to get in a focus zone
and close him out.”
In the afternoon, it appeared Ernst
was set to cruise to an easy victory after going 5 up through 11, but the wind
continued to be a factor on the inward nine, making every shot, including putts,
tricky to gauge.
“The wind really came into play, especially on No. 15. I
think we spent 20 minutes between the two of us putting on that hole. The dunes
had sand coming off them flying straight in your eyes. I had a 40-footer
straight into the wind and I couldn’t see a thing.”
After losing the first three holes in his opening round
match against Joseph
has started strongly in his last four matches. He won the first hole during his
second- and third-round matches on Thursday and was 2 up through three holes
against both Miernicki and Randolph.
“I got off to slow
starts in stroke play and in that first match,” said Ernst,
“so I’ve keyed in on getting the momentum going early and I’ve been able to do
that the last couple of matches. If you can get up early, it creates doubt in
your opponent’s mind.”
of Randolph came as
somewhat of a surprise given that Randolph had not been taken past
the 15th hole in any of his previous four matches. Randolph had not
trailed at any point during match play until the second hole of his semifinal
against Ernst – a stretch of 59 holes.
As finalists, both Mills and Ernst
earn exemptions into next months’ U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills.
They also receive an exemption from local qualifying for next year’s U.S. Open.
The champion receives a likely invitation to the 2012 Masters, plus a 10-year APL exemption, a gold medal and custody of James D.
Standish Trophy for the ensuing year. The runner-up receive a three-year APL exemption and a silver medal.
This year’s APL
is being played concurrently at Bandon Dunes with the U.S. Women’s Amateur
Public Links Championship. The WAPL field also played its quarterfinal and
semifinal matches at Old Macdonald on Friday. Brianna
Do will face Marissa Dodd
in Saturday’s 36-hole final.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bandon, Ore. – Results from Friday’s
quarterfinal and semifinal matches 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.
Corbin Mills, Easley, S.C. (138) def. Andrew Vijarro, Bend, Ore. (149), 4 and 3Harris English,
(143) def. J.J. Spaun,
Los Angeles, Calif.
(146), 2 and 1 Lower Bracket
(141) def. Todd Baek,
San Diego, Calif.
(146), 5 and 3Derek Ernst, Clovis, Calif. (145) def.
Daniel Miernicki, Santee, Calif.
(146), 6 and 4
Mills def. English, 5 and3
Ernst def. Randolph, 3 and
Ore. – Pairing and starting times for
Saturday’s 36-hole of the 86th U.S.
Amateur Public Links Championshp at 7,016-yard, par-71 Bandon Trails at the
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. (All times PDT)
and 12:15 p.m. -- Corbin Mills, Easley, S.C. (138) vs. Derek Ernst,