Cherry Hills Village, Colo. – Michael Weaver, 21, of Fresno, Calif., holds a 2-up lead over Steven Fox, 21, of Hendersonville, Tenn., following the opening 18 holes of Sunday’s championship match at the 2012 U.S. Amateur Championship at the par-71, 7,409-yard Cherry Hills Country Club.
The scheduled 36-hole final continues at 12:30 p.m. MDT.
The U.S. Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Fox took an early lead with a pair of pars on the opening two holes. Weaver came back with a birdie on par-4 third when his drive went over the green on the 328-yard hole. He bounced his chip into a bank and the ball rolled to within 8-feet.
Weaver, who defeated Justin Thomas, 3 and 2, in his semifinal match on Saturday, drew all square on the par-5 fifth when Fox’s drive found a a water hazard to the right of the fairway, leading to a bogey. The University of California-Berkeley redshirt junior went ahead by winning the seventh and eighth holes. Weaver nearly aced the par-3, 267-yard eighth, when his ball landed 10 yards short of the hole, rolled forward, and hit the back of the hole. His birdie putt was eventually conceded.
A senior at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Fox twice sliced the lead in half, with pars at the 12th and 14th. But Weaver answered by winning consecutive holes to go 3 up. He made a two-putt par at the par-3 15th hole when Fox bogeyed after hitting into a greenside bunker. Fox conceded the 16th hole after having to chip twice from left of the green.
“I got off to a slow start, I was kind of shaky out there,” Weaver said. “I really don’t know what the deal was. I was just trying to refocus on the third hole there, and then I won two holes at the end [of the round]/ To be 2 up going into the afternoon, I’m already starting ahead. But now I have some room. I just have to do the same thing in the afternoon. Although, I felt like I didn’t play my best this morning, for the most part I was allowed to win holes when he made mistakes.”
Weaver, who like Fox advanced to match play following a Wednesday 17-man playoff, bogeyed the 17th when his second shot from the right rough found the water in front of the island green. The players halved the final hole to end the morning session, with Weaver three-putting from 24 feet. His 4-foot par putt to win the hole lipped out. Fox missed the green right with his approach and played a delicate pitch to within 12 feet. His part putt came up short and right of the hole.
Brian DePasquale is a manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.