BROOKLINE, Mass. – Two weeks ago at the Western Amateur, Seth Reeves was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Jordan Niebrugge, one of the hottest amateurs in the country. Niebrugge, this year’s U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, went on to win the Western Amateur, part of a six-week stretch that also saw the Mequon, Wis., resident win his state amateur and state match-play titles.
But on Wednesday, Reeves, 22, of Duluth, Ga., avenged that Western Amateur defeat with a 1-up win over Niebrugge at The Country Club.
“When I looked at the pairings… I just said maybe it’s a fate thing and I can get back at him,” said Reeves, a Georgia Tech senior. “His confidence is way up because he’s, honestly, the hottest player in the world right now. How many matches he’s won in a row (16 going into the U.S. Amateur) is pretty absurd. So for me to beat him the way I did, I take a lot of confidence from that.”
Georgia Tech started the championship with six golfers, but only Reeves remains after Richy Werenski, a local favorite from South Hadley, Mass., and Bo Andrews were eliminated on Wednesday. Ollie Schniederjans, Michael Hines and Anders Albertson failed to qualify for match play.
Reeves faces co-medalist and No. 2 seed Brady Watt, of Australia, in the second round on Thursday morning at 8:50 a.m.
Ball Making Most Of Second Chance
Ten days ago, Adam Ball thought he would be watching Golf Channel’s coverage of the U.S. Amateur.
But on Aug. 5, the Richmond, Va., resident received a call from the USGA. A first alternate from the Salisbury Country Club sectional qualifier in Midlothian, Va., Ball was informed he would be in the starting field of 312 players.
“They had just enough people drop out for me to get in,” said Ball with a laugh. “I was ecstatic … really excited.”
Following his 6-and-4 first-round victory over Joey Petronio, of Orlando, Fla., Ball is among the final 32 players remaining at The Country Club.
“The surroundings of the golf course, having TV here and everything is just awesome,” said Ball, a semifinalist at the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur, where he lost to eventual champion and recent PGA Tour winner Jordan Spieth. “Being in such a historical place and around the best amateur players in the world, it’s great to be a part of it.”
A 19-year-old sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University, Ball watched the Rams men’s basketball team improbably reach the Final Four in 2011, becoming the third 11th-seeded team to accomplish the feat. Ball and his caddie, Brandon Hastings, a fellow member at Meadowbrook Country Club in Richmond, would like a similar Cinderella run to Sunday’s 36-hole championship match.
Said Ball: “Our philosophy has been, ‘Someone has to win. Why not us?’”
Anthony Gives Raymond a Run
Just about every player who made match play at the U.S. Amateur will tell you that the seedings don’t really matter; in fact, a No. 64 seed has beaten a No. 1 seed in two of the last three U.S. Amateurs (2010 and 2011).
Jason Anthony nearly made it three out of four. The 30-year-old from Fairfield, Calif., who was the last man into match play following the 17-for-15 playoff this morning, took co-medalist Neil Raymond the distance before losing, 1 up, on the 18th hole.
“I’ve never had so much fun losing,” he said afterward. “Obviously I would have loved to be playing tomorrow, but it’s been such a great experience.”
Anthony wasn’t always having so much fun on the golf course. He tried playing professionally for four years and struggled on various mini-tours.
“It got to the point where I hated golf,” he said. He walked away from the game for most of 2011, and he and his father started a car-wash business in northern California.
In 2012, he was reinstated as an amateur and is focusing his competitive energy on USGA championships, including an upcoming qualifier for the U.S. Mid-Amateur at San Jose Country Club.
“I love to compete, and I still feel like I have the game to play with anybody,” he said. Indeed, he proved it this week, giving a scare to Raymond and a thrill to the fans he made at The Country Club.
Down To One
Three USGA champions qualified for match play, but only one advanced to the second round. Besides Niebrugge, 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Jim Liu fell to Chelso Barrett, the 2011 Junior Amateur runner-up, while Scottie Scheffler, who won the Junior Amateur last month at Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif., rallied for a 20-hole victory over Stewart Jolly.
Scheffler was 2 down with two to play. He birdied 17 and parred 18 to force extra holes.
Scheffler gave a lot of the credit to his older sister, Callie, a sophomore at Texas A&M who caddied for him and read his putts. Callie was returning from a team trip to Scotland when Scottie defeated Davis Riley in the Junior Am final.
Barrett, meanwhile, defeated Liu for the second time in a USGA championship. He defeated the incoming Stanford University freshman during his run to the 2011 Junior Amateur final at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash.
USGA staff members Ron Driscoll, Greg Midland and David Shefter contributed to this report, as did Andrew Blair of the Virginia State Golf Association.