– Derek Ernst has waited a year for another chance
at the APL title. Now he’s only
one win away from getting that opportunity. Ernst headlines a group of four
golfers to win Friday morning matches at the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links at
7,670-yard, par-71 Soldier Hollow Golf Course.
In much the same fashion as his second and third
round victories, Ernst jumped ahead
early, winning four of the first five holes against his opponent, Brad Schneider,
23, of Orlando, Fla. Ernst
made three consecutive birdies starting on the third hole to gain control of
“I felt really good,” said Ernst,
who capped his hot start with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fifth. “Even
though I got up early, I didn’t let down and kept applying the pressure. You
never know what your opponent is going to do.”
The parallels between Ernst’s
path to the semifinals at Soldier Hollow and his performance at Bandon Dunes in
2011 are striking. In both years, he needed 19 holes to get past his
first-round opponents, but was not extended past the 15th hole in any of his
next three matches.
“It’s really ironic,” said Ernst,
22, of Clovis, Calif. “I don’t know if it takes me a while
to get in that first match, but at some point I find a zone. Plus when you’re
playing two matches in one day, I don’t want to play that many holes.”
Kevin Aylwin, 23, of New Smyrna
Beach, Fla., also
advanced to the semifinals with a 3-and-2 victory over Paul McConnell,
21, of Garland, Texas. Aylwin never trailed in his
quarterfinal match, although the outcome may have been different if the
competition was stroke play.
“I would have made a seven or eight on [the par-4
sixth] but that’s the beauty of match play,” said Aylwin, who is four classes
away from receiving his degree from the University of North Florida.
“You can make a big number and just move on.”
Aylwin won holes seven and eight to go 2 up at the
turn. After a good par save at No. 11, he hit an 8-iron on the 174-yard par-3
12th to within a few feet for a conceded birdie to extend his lead.
Aylwin is no stranger to the national stage. At
age 23, he is competing in his fourth APL
and seventh USGA championship. He qualified for last year’s APL at Bandon Dunes, but skipped it to play in the
Florida State Amateur at Doral, where he bogeyed the last hole to finish
second. This year there were no scheduling conflicts and at Soldier Hollow,
Aylwin found a course that suits his left-to-right shot shape.
“It just fits my eye,” said Aylwin. “A lot of the
tee shots are set up for cuts, so I can just walk up and can see a line and
don’t have to worry about picking targets.”
two quarterfinal matches came down to the 18th hole, where Kyle Beversdorf and T.J. Vogel
made birdies to hold off their opponents and advance to Friday afternoon’s
Beversdorf, 20, of Plymouth, Minn., won three of
the first four holes and held a 3-up lead through 12, but his opponent, Carlos
Rodriguez, 22, of Colombia, birdied 13 and 14 and Beversdorf hit his drive out
of bounds on 15 to quickly square the match. Beversdorf regained the lead with
a 10-foot par save on the 17th and came to the drivable 18th facing a decision
of whether to safely lay back with an iron or go for the green.
“I had the same situation earlier,” said
Beversdorf, who went for the green in his first-round match against Chad
Johnson. “I wanted to try to make birdie and force them to make eagle to win
Beversdorf again played aggressively, hitting his drive
just over the green into a collection area. His difficult chip ran 40 feet past the hole, but
with Rodriguez facing a 20-foot birdie putt,
Beversdorf left no doubt, calmly rolling the putt in for a 1-up victory.
“He had been putting great all day, so I expected
him to make it.” said Beversdorf. “Since it was up hill, I could stay
aggressive and fortunately found my line.”
Unlike Beversdorf, Vogel, 21, of Miami,
played behind for most of his match against Alberto Sanchez,
18, of Nogales, Ariz. Though Vogel is three years older than
Sanchez, the two have played in several junior
tournaments together and are close friends. They ate breakfast together this
morning and chatted throughout the match.
The players made only one bogey in the match – a
missed up-and-down by Sanchez at the par-3 17th
–that gave Vogel his first lead since the third hole. On the 18th, Vogel laid
back to 88 yards
and stuck his wedge within two feet for a conceded birdie to win the match, 1
“My wedge game has been great all week,” said
Vogel, who has been pushed to the 18th hole in three of his four matches thus
far. “I had another bogey-free day today, which is what you have to do in match
play. I think it’s good to be tested – matches like this make you stronger.”
The semifinal matches began at noon MDT.
The winners will advance to the 36-hole final, which is scheduled for Saturday
is one of 13 individual national championships conducted annually by the United
States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Michael Trostel is the
curator/historian at the USGA
Museum. Email him
Midway, Utah – Results from Friday morning’s quarterfinal
matches at the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship being held at
7,670-yard, par-71 Soldier Hollow Golf Course.
Aylwin, New Smyrna Beach, Fla. (139) def. Paul McConnell,
Garland, Texas (145), 3 and 2
Beversdorf, Plymouth, Minn. (143) def. Carlos Rodriguez,
Colombia (142), 1 up
Vogel, Miami, Fla. (136) def. Alberto Sanchez,
Nogales, Ariz. (144), 1 up
Ernst, Clovis, Calif. (140) def. Brad Schneider,
Orlando, Fla. (141), 4 and 3
Midway, Utah – Pairings and starting times for
Friday afternoon’s semifinal matches at the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links
Championship being held at 7,670-yard, par-71 Soldier Hollow Golf Course. All
12:00 p.m. Kevin Aylwin,
New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
(139) vs. Kyle
Beversdorf, Plymouth, Minn. (143)
12:15 p.m. T. J.
Vogel, Miami, Fla. (136) vs. Derek Ernst,
Clovis, Calif. (140)