After 36 holes of stroke play and five rounds of match play over three days, we're finally down to our two finalists at the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links: medalist Corbin Mills of Easley, S.C., and Derek Ernst of Clovis, Calif. It is an east vs. west matchup. Mills had the week's best round, a 67 at Old Macdonald on the second day of qualifying, while Ernst had arguably the week's best shot, a hole-in-one on the 299-yard, par-4 eighth hole on the first day of match play. It was the 11th ace since the USGA began recording such feats in 1982, but the first on a par 4.
Ernst, who plays for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Runnin' Rebels, has dispatched two Rebels -- from the University of Mississippi -- in Joseph David (19 holes first round) and No. 2 seed Jonathan Randolph (3 and 2 in semifinals).
Mills is vying to be the first medalist to win the APL since fellow Clemson Tiger D.J. Trahan accomplished the feat in 2000. Ironically, that event was also held in Oregon, about 5 hours from Bandon Dunes Golf Resort at Portland's Heron Lakes. In fact, the APL has been held in Oregon five tmes since its inception and four times, the medalist has won. That is good karma for Mills. When Trahan won in 2000, he actually was an alternate into the field. He got in when his college teammate, Kyle Thompson, withdrew. Trahan beat Bubba Dickersson over 37 holes in the final. Dickerson would win the U.S. Amateur at East Lake in Atlanta the following year.
Clemson also produced 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, and recent Walker Cup players Jonathan Byrd, Matt Hendrix, Kyle Stanley, Trahan and Glover.
UNLV is no slouch when producing players with USGA success. Ryan Moore won a pair of APL titles in 2002 and 2004 as well as the 2004 U.S. Amateur. And Chris Riley was a runner-up in the 1994 APL.
It should be a great 36-hole final today. We will live blog the match with hole-by-hole updates. You can also follow along on the Golf Channel beginning at 4 p.m. EDT. -- David Shefter