U.S. AMATEUR
Last Four at Oakland Hills: Carlson, Luck, Texeira, Dalke August 19, 2016 | Bloomfield Township, Mich. By Pete Kowalksi, USGA

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The semifinals of the 116th U.S. Amateur Championship are set as Nick Carlson, a University of Michigan sophomore, will face Curtis Luck, of Australia; and University of Southern California sophomore Jonah Texeira will oppose Brad Dalke, a University of Oklahoma sophomore, Saturday at Oakland Hills Country Club.

In a Big Ten Conference matchup, Carlson, 19, of Hamilton, Mich., won a 3-and-1 decision over 2016 Western Amateur champion and University of Illinois junior Dylan Meyer, 21, of Evansville, Ind., in the opening match of the quarterfinals on Friday. All matches were played on the South Course, which has hosted six U.S. Opens and was dubbed “The Monster” by Ben Hogan in his 1951 U.S. Open victory

“I'm the calmest I've ever been this week,” said Carlson, who is playing in his first USGA championship. “I'm not really sure what's going on. I'm not sure who is playing golf for me, but it's happening, and it's pretty cool.”

Meyer owned a 2-up lead through nine holes before dangerous weather forced the suspension of play from 3:16 to 4 p.m. EDT.

Following the resumption of play, Carlson, fueled by a large partisan crowd including University of Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, won holes 10, 11 and 12 to take a 1-up lead.

Meyer, a first-team all-Big Ten and honorable-mention All-America selection, rebounded with a birdie on the par-3 13th to square the match.

On the 14th, the admittedly emotional Carlson chipped in for birdie to grab a lead he would not relinquish. He birdied the par-4 15th to take a 2-up lead and closed the match with a winning par on the 17th hole.

“I drew an amazing lie,” said Carlson of his chip on 14. “It was perfect. Probably the best one I've had all week. And then I bumped a 9-iron into the hill. I hit the leaf I was trying to hit and it took another hop and just kind of trickled right on down.”

Luck, the 2016 Western Australia Open winner on the Australasian Tour, defeated Sahith Theegala, 18, of Chino Hills, Calif., 2 up.

Luck, a 2014 U.S. Junior Amateur semifinalist, and Theegala, an 18-year-old Pepperdine University sophomore engaged in a see-saw match that stood at all square through the first 11 holes. Luck, No.7 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, took holes 12 and 13, but Theegala, the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year, won 15 and 16 to again square the match.

A tricky, downhill 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th boosted Luck to a 1-up lead and he completed the match with a winning par on the 18th. Now, Luck will have to face Carlson and his supporters.

“It's always good to have a crowd,” said Luck, 20, about the home-state support for Carlson. “I'm looking forward to it. We'll just see. Hopefully, maybe I'll have to give them something to clap about even if they don't want to. That's how it is. I understand, being from Michigan, he's going to have a big following. And it's great to see he's got such a massive crowd supporting him this week.”

Texeira, an alternate from Porter Ranch, Calif., and a first-team all-freshman choice in the Pacific-12 Conference, beat Luis Gagne, 18, of Orlando, Fla., 3 and 2.

Texeira, 20, raced to a 5-up lead through seven holes and won holes 4, 6 and 7 with a birdie, eagle and birdie, respectively. Gagne, a Louisiana State University sophomore who holds dual U.S. and Costa Rican citizenship, pared the lead to just two holes by winning 9, 11 and 12, but Texeira won the 15th and halved the 16th for his win.

Dalke, the 2015 Junior PGA winner from Norman, Okla., closed out David Boote, 22, of Wales, 3 and 2. On his 19th birthday, Dalke bolted to a 3-up lead with birdies on the second, third and fourth holes. He never trailed in the match and had five winning birdies and just one bogey.

All quarterfinalists are exempt from qualifying for the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., Aug. 14-20. Semifinalists are exempt from qualifying for the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links.

The 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play, followed by six rounds of match play, concluding with Sunday’s 36-hole championship.

The U.S. Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

Pete Kowalski is the director of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at pkowalski@usga.org.

 

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