Erin, Wis. – Jordan Russell, 22, of College Station, Texas, eliminated defending champion Peter Uihlein, 21, of Orlando, Fla., 2 and 1, in Friday afternoon’s quarterfinals at the 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship at 7,760-yard, par-72 Erin Hills.
Also advancing were 2011 USA Walker Cup Team member Patrick Cantlay, 19, of Los Alamitos, Calif.; Kelly Kraft, 22, of Denton, Texas, the winner of the 2011 Trans-Mississippi Championship; and 2011 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup representative Jack Senior, 23, of England.
Russell, who is entering his senior year at Texas A&M University, took an early lead against Uihlein with a birdie on the par-4 fourth hole. His lead was extended to 2 up when Uihlein bogeyed the par-3 sixth. However, Russell allowed Uihlein to stay in the battle with two bogeys of his own to bring the match back to all square at the 12th.
I knew it was going to be tough going in, especially when I was 2 up, said Russell, who advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Bobby Leopold, of Cranston, R.I., in 19 holes. You know, you're just expecting Peter to hit great shots. And, so when he got it back to all square, I wasn't surprised at all.
Back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 gave Russell another 2-up lead, one that he held for the remainder of the match.
We are good friends and he plays great every time I play with him, said Uihlein of his opponent. He’s the most underrated player in college golf. He doesn’t get enough notoriety even though he deserves it.
That's pretty cool, I guess, that he thinks that, said Russell, who is competing in his second U.S. Amateur. I feel like I am maybe a little underrated, but I like it that way sometimes. You know, I haven't won a lot, but I've finished in the top five a whole lot the last two years, so I guess that probably puts me at a little underrated.
With the loss, Uihlein failed in his quest to become the first Amateur champion to retain the Havemeyer Trophy since Tiger Woods won three consecutive championships in 1994, 1995 and 1996.
If I could have made a couple more putts, maybe things would have been different, said Uihlein. It was a good defense after winning last year.
Cantlay, who will team with Uihlein at next month’s Walker Cup Match at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Scotland, needed 19 holes to defeat Max Buckley, 21, of Rye, N.Y. After trailing for much of the match’s first nine holes, Buckley battled back and held a dormie-2 lead going to the 17th hole.
I knew when I was on the tee box [on 17] that it wasn't over, for sure, said Cantlay, an incoming sophomore at UCLA who was the 2011 NCAA Division I Player and Freshman of the Year. I just tried to hit the best shots I could. Really, that's all you can do when you're down, or even when you're up.
Cantlay’s confidence was well-founded, as his clutch birdie on the par-5 18th sent the match to extra holes. When Buckley’s second shot on the 20th hole found a leftside fairway bunker, Cantlay, who was visibly drained after the match, was able to take the victory with a par putt.
My opponents have played really well and I've played well, too, so it's just been a grind out there, said Cantlay, who advanced to the semifinals for the second consecutive year.
Kraft went into the quarterfinals having barely survived the morning’s round of 16, winning a marathon 23-hole match over Blake Biddle, of St. Charles, Ill., the longest match at the U.S. Amateur in 11 years.
I didn't have to warm up again. That's for sure, said Kraft, who paired his summer win at the Trans-Miss with a victory at the 2011 Texas Amateur Championship. I was already quite loose. I basically just kept playing. I didn't have to worry about going through a practice routine or anything before I played.
Kraft then cruised through his quarterfinal match with 2011 USA Walker Cup Team member Patrick Rodgers, 19, of Avon, Ind., converting four birdies in 14 holes (with the usual match-play concessions), and never trailing en route to a decisive 6-and-4 victory.
This is great, said Kraft. I've only played in one other U.S. Am (2007 at The Olympic Club). I've been playing well all summer, and I was coming here to win. So I feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be.
Senior’s trip to the U.S. Amateur marked his first time visiting the United States. However, the links-style layout of Erin Hills made the Englishman feel right at home.
Where the Walker Cup is in two weeks' time (Royal Aberdeen in Scotland), this is exactly like it. A lot, said Senior, who won the 2011 Lytham Trophy in England and the New South Wales Amateur Championship in Australia. This is the exact style of course I play week in, week out, so this is a real home track for me.
However, his comfort with Erin Hills did not translate to an easy match with Spieth, the 2009 and 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur champion. Spieth held a 2-up lead going to the 14th hole, but his back-to-back bogeys at 15 and 16 squared the match. Another Spieth bogey at the 18th hole gave Senior the 1-up victory.
I came in here this week with not a lot of expectation because I've been playing pretty poor back home and not been playing great, said Senior, who defeated John Hahn, of Las Vegas, Nev., by a 4-and-3 margin in the morning’s third round. But this week's just swung up on me and I've found a bit of form.
That's the way it goes sometimes. This game is all about confidence and if you're confident out on the golf course, then you reap the rewards.
The 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Sunday.
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.
Erin, Wis. – Results of Friday’s third and quarterfinal rounds of match play at the 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship, played at 7,760-yard, par-72 Erin Hills.
Jordan Russell, College Station, Texas (140) d. Bobby Leopold, Cranston, R.I. (142), 19 holes
Peter Uihlein, Orlando, Fla. (137) d. Scott Langley, St. Louis, Mo. (137), 2 and 1
Max Buckley, Rye, N.Y. (141) d. John Peterson, Fort Worth, Texas (139), 19 holes
Patrick Cantlay, Los Alamitos, Calif. (140) d. Tom Lewis, England (139), 3 and 1
Kelly Kraft, Denton, Texas (141) d. Blake Biddle, St. Charles, Ill. (134), 23 holes
Patrick Rodgers, Avon, Ind. (136) d. Sunil Jung, Korea (137), 4 and 3
Jack Senior, England (140) d. John Hahn, Las Vegas, Nev. (139), 3 and 2
Jordan Spieth, Dallas, Texas (137) d. Ben Geyer, Arbuckle, Calif. (135), 7 and 5
Jordan Russell, College Station, Texas (140) d. Peter Uihlein, Orlando, Fla. (137), 2 and 1
Patrick Cantlay, Los Alamitos, Calif. (140) d. Max Buckley, Rye, N.Y. (141), 19 holes
Kelly Kraft, Denton, Texas (141) d. Patrick Rodgers, Avon, Ind. (136), 6 and 4
Jack Senior, England (140) d. Jordan Spieth, Dallas, Texas (137), 1 up
Erin, Wis. – Pairings for Saturday’s semifinal round of match play at the 2011 U.S. Amateur Championship, played at 7,760-yard, par-72 Erin Hills.
8 a.m.: Jordan Russell, College Station, Texas (140) v. Patrick Cantlay, Los Alamitos, Calif. (140)
8:15 a.m.: Kelly Kraft, Denton, Texas (141) v. Jack Senior, England (140)