TRUCKEE, Calif. – Brad Dalke thought his friend was playing a joke.
Late Tuesday night, Alvaro Ortiz sent a text message to Dalke, saying the two were scheduled to square off in the first round of match play at the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur at Martis Camp Club.
“You’re kidding,” wrote Dalke.
“No, I am serious,” Ortiz wrote back, then provided a picture of the draw.
It was the last thing either golfer wanted to see. Ortiz, 17, of Mexico, and Dalke, 15, of Hobart, Okla., attended the Jim McLean Academy in Fort Worth, Texas, together in the first year of its existence four years ago. They became close friends, practicing and playing matches all the time.
After they completed their final qualifying rounds on Tuesday, they hung out in the locker room, watching television and eating ice cream before hitting the practice area for a couple of hours.
Little did they know at the time they would be back on the first tee together at 8:39 a.m. PDT on Wednesday.
“We told each other to play hard and don’t feel bad for each other,” said Dalke. “Both of us came here to win.”
It is Dalke who moves on after a 4-and-3 victory. He struggled on Tuesday, shooting a 5-over 77 for a 149 total to get inside the match-play cutline by two strokes. After having a difficult day on the greens, Dalke found something during his post-round practice session.
“I felt a lot better with it today,” said Dalke. “I made all my short ones. Everything inside of 12 feet I think I made.”
These Huskies Have Bite
The Edmond North High Huskies have won the Class 6A team golf title in Oklahoma the past nine years in a row, and it’s easy to see why with the likes of 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Kevin Tway (Oklahoma State), Will Kropp (Oklahoma), Jeff Shaw (Texas A&M) and PGA Tour player Robert Streb (Kansas State) teeing it up for the school through the years.
Two Edmond North golfers qualified for this year’s U.S. Junior Amateur, and both Tyson Reeder and Nick Heinen pulled out first-round wins on Wednesday. Reeder posted a 5-and-4 win over Jeremy Wall, while Heinen needed 19 holes to eliminate Joshua Seiple.
“We’re good,” said Reeder, 16, of his high school team, which also includes Hayden Wood, a 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur competitor and the son of 1977 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Willie Wood.
Reeder, a left-hander who will be a junior this fall, said he gained momentum from a second-place finish at an American Junior Golf Association tournament last week in Abilene, Texas.
Heinen made a bogey 5 on No. 18 to send the match to extra holes, where another bogey 5 was good enough to win the hole and the match.
“I thought I hit a good drive, but it was right behind some trees,” said Heinen, who is carrying his own bag. “Then I thought I hit a good [approach] shot, but it went over the green. I chipped it up to 5 feet and hit a horrible [par] putt. But it worked out. That’s all that matters.”
Heinen, who will attend Oklahoma State in the fall of 2014, and Reeder played practice rounds together this week and would meet in the semifinals on Friday afternoon if they continue to win.
The only time two high school teammates have ever played in a Junior Amateur final was in 1962 when Jim Wiechers defeated James Sullivan. Both attended Bellarmine Prep in San Jose.
Local Favorite Moves On
Corey Eddings, of Roseville, Calif., might have had the shortest trip to get to Martis Camp Club for this week’s Junior Amateur, traveling just 85 miles east on Interstate 80. And he made sure on Wednesday that his stay would last a little longer.
Eddings, 17, holed a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to force extra holes, then eliminated Will Bernstein, of New York, with a par on the 19th hole.
Trailing by two with four to play, Eddings rallied by winning the par-5 15th with a par, and matching Bernstein’s birdie 3 at the 289-yard 16th. At the par-3 17th, Eddings needed to get up and down for par to keep the match going, setting the stage for his dramatic putt.
“I felt like I had a lot of momentum going into the first playoff hole,” Eddings said. “And I hit a really good chip to like a foot and that gave me the win.”
Eddings was relieved to be moving on after losing his first-round match at the 2012 Junior Amateur to Zecheng Dou. In fact, that match had a similar ebb and flow.
“I was starting to have thoughts of last year,” said Eddings, a senior at Oakmont High. “I was a couple up after the first few holes and then gave it back, and then today I did the same thing. Today I was able to battle back and get the win.”
“I just felt comfortable out there.”
Eddings regularly snowboards at nearby Northstar Resort during the winter, and with Martis Camp being just 90 minutes from home, family and friends can come support him.
“Today, there were probably like 10 [in my gallery],” he said. “The farther I make it, the more that will come.”
Wilson Furr and Corey Shaun each produced major comebacks in the first round. Furr, 15, of Jackson, Miss., rallied from 4 down after eight holes to post a 1-up win over Keenan Huskey, while Shaun, 16, of Encinitas, Calif., lost four of his first five holes against Jack Comstack, before winning five consecutive holes from No. 7 in a 1-up victory.
Not So Great For Final Eight
All eight golfers who advanced from the 12-man playoff for the final match-play spots were eliminated in the first round. Cameron Self, Will Bernstein and Matthew Lowe all fell in 19 holes, the latter to medalist Jim Liu.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.