U.S. AMATEUR
DeChambeau and Bard Will Face Off in U.S. Amateur Final August 22, 2015 | OLYMPIA FIELDS, ILL. By Pete Kowalski, USGA

Derek Bard, a University of Virgina junior, defeated Kenta Konishi in the semifinals to extend his memorable week at the U.S. Amateur. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Southern Methodist University rising senior Bryson DeChambeau, the 2015 NCAA champion, will meet Derek Bard, a University of Virginia junior who won the Sunnehanna Amateur, in the 36-hole final match of the U.S. Amateur Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club.

DeChambeau, 21, of Clovis, Calif., a 2015 United States Walker Cup Team member, defeated Sean Crocker, a University of Southern California sophomore, 4 and 3, in Saturday’s semifinals.

“To be here with the best players in the world that have played here and won here, is pretty incredible: Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and a couple others, it's incredible,” said DeChambeau.

Bard, 20, of New Hartford, N.Y., beat Kenta Konishi, a Japanese national team member, 3 and 2, in the other semifinal.

Holding a 1-up lead through 11 holes, DeChambeau, a first-team All-American, won holes 12, 13 and 14, with birdies on 12 and 14, to take a 4-up lead. He closed out the match with a halving par on the par-3 15th.

“On 12, that was a huge second shot to stuff it in there to 6 feet,” said DeChambeau, who plays in a Ben Hogan-style cap. “I knew that he was most likely going to get up and down, even though it was a ridiculously hard shot, and he did hit a great shot to a foot and I gave it to him. I had a 6-footer, and I threw it right in the heart.”

Bryson DeChambeau, the 2015 NCAA individual champion, has trailed in just two holes throughout his march to the final. (USGA/John Mummert)

Bard, who won the 2014 U.S. Collegiate, took the first hole with a birdie and never trailed. Konishi, 21, a junior at Tohoku Fukushi University who played for Japan in the 2014 World Amateur Team Championship, squared the match on the 11th hole but Bard won the 12th with a par.

Bard then won No. 14 with birdie and No. 15 with a par, but hit a poor drive on the 16th.

“The hole is 450 yards, so I figured if I could just hit a solid 3-iron, I should have 6-iron or 5-iron coming in,” said Bard of his tee shot. “I kind of chunk-sliced one down there and found the fairway, which was fine. So I knew if I could get it on the green virtually near the hole, I would have a good shot at closing out right there. I just got a good number with a 3-iron and had a nice uphill lie to get the ball in the air a little bit. I flagged it; I went right at it, and it was one of the best shots of my life.”

His iron shot stopped 20 feet past the hole. Konishi chipped to within 4 feet before Bard’s birdie attempt stopped 2 feet short for a conceded par to end the match.

“I was talking to some of my friends and my dad earlier,” said Bard, of playing DeChambeau. “I'm going to have to play my best golf to have a chance tomorrow, because he's been playing very solid leading up to this point, and I'm just going to have to have one of those days where everything falls the right way from here.”

 

Among the players Bard defeated en route to the final are Vanderbilt All-American and United States Walker Cup Team member Hunter Stewart (Round of 16) and World Amateur Golf Ranking No. 1 Jon Rahm, of Spain, who was the winner of the 2015 Ben Hogan Award, given the top college player.

DeChambeau’s path to the final included a win over college player of the year and 2015 Walker Cup teammate Maverick McNealy of Stanford University in the Round of 16, and a 3-and-2 decision in the Round of 32 over University of South Carolina All-American Matt NeSmith.

DeChambeau is vying to become the fifth player to win the NCAA title and U.S. Amateur Championship in the same year and the first since Ryan Moore in 2004. The others are Jack Nicklaus (1961), Phil Mickelson (1990) and Tiger Woods (1996).

Konishi, who once defeated Hideki Matsuyama in a Japanese amateur tournament, was attempting to become the first Japanese winner of the U.S. Amateur and the second Japanese USGA champion, joining Michiko Hattori, who won the 1985 U.S. Women’s Amateur.

The finalists receive exemptions into the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, three years of exemptions into the U.S. Amateur and a likely invitation to the 2016 Masters Tournament. The champion also receives an exemption into the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon.

All quarterfinalists are exempt from qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Aug. 15-21. 

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