Erin, Wis. – Reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion Jordan Spieth is in the quarterfinals of the 111th U.S. Amateur thanks to a suddenly alive putting stroke that he hopes can carry him farther.
The 18-year-old from Dallas used his flat stick to maximum efficiency and eliminated Ben Geyer of Arbuckle, Calif., 7 and 5, to set up an afternoon showdown with England’s Jack Senior. The 2011 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup player advanced thanks to a 3-and-2 decision over John Hahn of Las Vegas.
Spieth, strengthening his bid to qualify for the USA Walker Cup Team, needed only 15 putts on the tricky greens at Erin Hills and never made a bogey against the 19-year-old St. Mary’s College sophomore.
Honestly, early in the round I got a couple of really good breaks, and then he couldn’t get a putt to fall, and I really started making putts, which was good to see, said Spieth, who had missed the cut in his three previous U.S. Amateur appearances. That was really the difference is finally I got the putter working for me. I had been struggling with it.
The best break for Spieth, who starts classes at the University of Texas next week, came on the fourth hole. Already 2 up, Spieth drove into the lip of a fairway bunker in high grass and could only hack it out. His third shot found the green and he converted for par while Geyer made par from the middle of the fairway.
Bogeys by Geyer at Nos. 6 and 8 and a birdie by Spieth at the ninth from 15 feet inflated the lead to 5 up at the turn. I got far enough ahead to where all I was trying to do was hit greens, said Spieth.
The match ended without Spieth having to putt. Both players reached the par-4 13th in two, but when Geyer missed from 12 feet for birdie, he conceded Spieth’s 8-foot birdie and the match.
Three more wins by Spieth and he would become the first player to win the Junior Amateur and Amateur in the same year.
Geyer, meanwhile, heads back to northern California with some added confidence for the upcoming collegiate season.
It was fun. I hit it well all week, but today I put the ball in a couple of bad spots, and you can’t do that here, Geyer said. I gave away a couple of holes, which you can’t do in match play, but Jordan played really well. He made a lot of putts and that was the key. But, still, it was a great time. It was a great experience.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose material has previously appeared on USGA websites