NEWTON, Kan. – It has been 46 years since a player has won the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in his home state. Michael Gellerman is now two wins away from accomplishing that rare feat.
The 20-year-old Sterling, Kan., native defeated Robert Geibel, 1 up, in the quarterfinals of the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links and faces Doug Ghim on Friday afternoon.
They are joined by 43-year-old Jess Bonneau and Byron Meth in the semifinals of the APL at the 7,365-yard, par-71 Sand Creek Station Golf Course.
Gellerman lost the second hole of his first-round match to Trent Peterson to fall 1 down, but after winning the third hole has not trailed at any other point during the championship – a span of 61 holes.
Against Geibel, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., Gellerman won both par-5s (Nos. 2 and 4) on the outward nine with pars and extended his lead to 3 up with a birdie at the ninth. Gellerman has birdied and won the ninth hole in each of his four matches at Sand Creek Station.
Geibel won holes 13 and 16 with pars to close within 1 down, but Gellerman steadied his game and made pars at 17 and 18 to preserve the victory. The last in-state champion was Gene Towry, of Richardson, Texas, in 1968 at Tenison Park Golf Course, in Dallas.
I kept it in play and didn’t really make any big mistakes, which was huge for me, said Gellerman, a senior at the University of Oklahoma. I need to get to work here and play a little better this afternoon.
At 43, Bonneau, of Houston, is vying to become the second-oldest champion in APL history. He eliminated Rico Hoey, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., 5 and 3, to advance to the semis. Verne Callison, 48, won the 1967 APL.
Playing against the USC sophomore who is 25 years his junior, Bonneau birdied the ninth to pull ahead 1 up. After the players halved the par-5 10th with double bogeys, Bonneau won three consecutive holes starting on No. 11 to seize control of the match.
He hit it inside of me on 11, and I made birdie from about 18 feet and he missed from 12 feet, said Bonneau. It just started going from there.
Asked if he was exceeding his expectations, Bonneau laughed and said, By about two days. I thought if I played well, I could make match play and maybe win a match. Everything else has been a bonus. I’ve gotten past a couple of guys who are a heck of a lot better players than I am.
Bonneau earned the No. 55 seed by battling to a 76 in Tuesday’s second stroke-play round, avoiding the playoff for match play by one stroke. I’m proud of myself because I grinded it out pretty hard that day, although it seems like a long time ago. My feet will tell you that, too. I’ve got blisters, a toenail falling off… I’ve got all kinds of problems here, he added with a laugh.
Two of the four co-medalists have also advanced to the semifinals. Ghim, of Arlington Heights, Ill., defeated his good friend John Oda, of Honolulu, Hawaii, 3 and 2, and Meth, of San Diego, survived a late charge by Bryson Dechambeau, of Clovis, Calif., to win, 1 up. With Meth’s victory, at least one player from California has advanced to the semifinals of the APL in each of the past seven years.
The semifinal matches began at 12:45 p.m. CDT. The winners will advance to the 36-hole final, which is scheduled for Saturday morning.
Michael Trostel is the senior curator/historian at the USGA Museum. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newton, Kan. – Results from Friday morning’s quarterfinal matches at the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, being held at 7,365-yard, par-71 Sand Creek Station Golf Course.
Michael Gellerman, Sterling, Kan. (145) def. Robert Geibel, Pembroke Pines, Fla. (140), 1 up
Doug Ghim, Arlington Heights, Ill. (134) def. John Oda, Honolulu, Hawaii (140), 3 and 2
Jess Bonneau, Houston, Texas (146) def. Rico Hoey, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (134), 5 and 3
Byron Meth, San Diego, Calif. (134) def. Bryson Dechambeau, Clovis, Calif. (142), 1 up
Newton, Kan. – Pairings and starting times for Friday afternoon’s semifinal matches at the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship being held at 7,365-yard, par-71 Sand Creek Station Golf Course. All times CDT.
12:45 p.m. - Michael Gellerman, Sterling, Kan. (145) vs. Doug Ghim, Arlington Heights, Ill. (134)
1:00 p.m. - Jess Bonneau, Houston, Texas (146) vs. Byron Meth, San Diego, Calif. (134)