holes, Halvorsen, of Norway, was 1 down, having never led at any point in the
match. To continue his run in this championship’s 67th edition, Halvorsen was
going to need a comeback against Sedeno, but also against his own frustration.
language was down, and if I really wanted to win this match I am going to have
to change that,” Halvorsen said. “When it’s really hot and you’re trailing, you
try and stay calm, but it’s also easy to get really frustrated, especially in
match play. You need to try and not spend any more energy than you have to.”
squared his match on the 14th hole and won two of the final three for a 2-up
win on a day in which two rounds were played in stifling and sticky 90-plus-degree
temperatures at The Club at Carlton Woods’ Nicklaus Course.
afternoon, Halvorsen gave himself something of a breather, taking the lead on
the second hole and never relinquishing it en route to a 4-and-3 victory over
Davis Shore to reach the quarterfinals.
[afternoon] round was much easier,” Halvorsen joked.
That is part
of the beauty of match play. Pressure and frustration are not as great for
those holding leads, and three-foot putts to halve holes do not create the same
anxiety as they do for player who is trailing.
“A lot of the
time, I’m trying to make pars and my opponent then has to make the birdies,
which is difficult around [this course],” said Zach Murray, of Australia, who
lost, 1 down, to Sam Horsfield in Thursday’s round of 16. “If you’re making
pars, then it puts so much pressure on the player and it starts to get to them
and they start hitting wayward tee shots.”
eight quarterfinalists, Horsfield and Will Grimmer have led the highest
percentage of their match-play holes played (70.8), while Halvorsen and 2013
U.S. Junior runner-up Davis Riley have led the fewest (59.6) – essentially a
six-hole difference over the course of three rounds. Riley and Halvorsen have
also trailed the highest number of holes through three rounds – 13 and 12,
of Australia, has trailed on only two of the 48 holes he played to reach the
quarterfinals, partly because he takes a unique mental approach.
play like I am one hole behind,” Luck said. “I never play too safe. I don’t
start a round like that and I don’t think where the [match stands] should affect
how I play. Maybe if I was 3 down with three to play I’d be thinking, ‘Ok,
let’s get on it,’ but my game plan does not change throughout the day.”
Theegala reached the round of 16 thanks to his accuracy off the tee, which
brought an added advantage.
“I think that’s been putting a little pressure on the
other guys because they’re seeing me hit it 280 and in the middle of the
fairway. It’s a nice feeling,” said Theegala, who eventually lost to top-seeded
Sean Crocker in 20 holes.
hitter, though, has his own advantage, such as was the case in Tony Gil’s 2-up
victory over Easton Paxton in Wednesday’s round of 64.
On the par-5
18th, which has water that runs along the left and protects the green, Paxton
hit the longer of the two tee shots and was faced with a 264-yard second shot. Gil,
holding a 1-up lead, laid up along the right to force Easton’s hand.
“I guess he
had no other option really,” said Gil of Paxton, who hit a cut shot over the
water in an attempt to reach the green and increase the pressure on Gil, but
came up short. Paxton lost the hole and the match.
Serafini’s first 39 holes that stretched into his round-of-16 match against
Grimmer, he never trailed at any point. Part of the reason was an emphasis on
winning the first hole.
“On the first
hole, try and win it because then you have the momentum, then you just keep
trying to win holes, because match play is all about momentum,” said Serafini,
who ultimately lost to Grimmer, 2 down.
more stress-free knowing you’re in the lead,” he said. “When you’re down, you
start pressing more and then you start grinding over those 4- and 5-footers.
They seem longer.
such a long week and there’s so much golf that if you can get ahead in those
early matches it does help if you’re down later in the rounds, you have already
breezed through some of the early ones, so you have that confidence.”
shortening the week can be of benefit when the finalists could conceivably play
the equivalent of nine rounds in six days. Through Thursday’s three rounds of
match play, Crocker had played 54 holes, while Riley, Halvorsen and William
Zalatoris had played seven fewer.
want to stay as fresh as possible,” Luck said. “Maybe that is why I’m feeling
fresh, because I really have not had to deal with playing from behind.”
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based
freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.