Alex Edfort took out the qualifying medalist, James Erkenbeck, and Zac Blair kept Utah’s hopes for a local champion alive after the first round of match play Wednesday at the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links being conducted at the 7,670-yard, par-71 Soldier Hollow Golf Course.
Edfort eagled the third playoff hole to dispatch Erkenbeck in 21 holes. One of 10 players to finish on the match-play cutline of 4-over 146 became the first No. 64 seed to win an opening-round match at the APL since Brady Johnson beat Aaron Goldberg in 2008. The match featured 12 birdies, an eagle and plenty of drama.
One down on the 18th tee, Edfort hit a 3-wood on the 310-yard par 4 in an attempt to drive the green. He blocked it, short-siding himself to a difficult hole location. His 30-yard pitch stayed on the green, but ran 50 feet past. With Erkenbeck in comfortable two-putt distance, Edfort needed to roll in the long putt to stay alive.
"I just had a great feeling about it and buried it," said Edfort, 20, of Somerset, N.J. "That up-and-down on 18 – I don’t think I could do that again with 100 balls."
After both players missed potentially winning putts in the playoff, first Erkenbeck from 5 feet on the 19th then Edfort from 10 feet on the 20th, Erkenbeck’s drive on the 583-yard third hole, the 21st of the match, found high rough to the right of the fairway.
"I saw him in trouble and figured he was going to be laying up," said Edfort. "But I knew with his game he was going to have a chance at birdie to at least keep the match alive."
Facing a 220-yard shot up the hill, Edfort pulled a 4-iron – the same club he used to reach the par-5 16th earlier in the match. He stuck the approach to 10 feet and sank the eagle putt to win the match. For the third consecutive year, Edfort will move on to the second round of match play at the APL.
Edfort’s teammate at the University of the Pacific, Byron Meth, 19, of San Diego, Calif., didn’t fare as well, losing 4 and 3 to Blair, of Ogden, Utah. Blair wasted little time getting ahead, making a 15-foot putt for birdie on the first hole to gain a lead he would not relinquish. Playing in his home state has been an added source of inspiration for the rising senior at BYU.
"It’s definitely exciting that there’s a huge tournament right up the road," said Blair, 20. "The course has been great and everything about this championship has been awesome so far."
Blair will attempt to become the first USGA champion from Utah since Clay Ogden won the 2005 APL. Other Utahns to win USGA championships are George Von Elm (1926 U.S. Amateur), Billy Casper (three-time USGA champion), D. Scott Hailes (1995 U.S. Junior Amateur) and Annie Thurman Young (2002 WAPL).
Dan Horner, of Sandy, the other Utah resident to make match play, was eliminated by Jake Knapp, of Costa Mesa, Calif., 3 and 2.
Like Blair, Michael Kim, of Del Mar, Calif., pulled ahead early in his match against Wes Hillen, 21, of Columbia, Ill., winning the first five holes en route to a 5-and-4 victory. Taking an early lead was paramount to Kim, who birdied three of his first four holes.
"I just wanted to get off to a hot start," said Kim, who made a 15-foot birdie putt on the first hole. "It’s big in match play. You want to get the momentum early and keep pressing it and I was able to do that today."
The highest remaining seed, T.J. Vogel, 21, of Miami, Fla., turned back a strong effort from Paul Misko, 23, of Thousand Oaks, Calif. After a bogey on the opening hole, Vogel birdied five of the next seven, but could not seem to shake his opponent. Vogel needed to curl in a 15-foot birdie putt to halve the final hole to close out Misko, 1 up.
"I haven’t made any putts outside 10 feet the whole tournament," said Vogel, whose father, Joe, is his caddie this week. "That was the longest putt by far. It was a great match and was a lot of fun to come down to the last hole."
Derek Ernst, 22, of Clovis, Calif., also survived a scare. The 2011 APL runner-up won the 18th to square his match and defeated Kirby Pettitt, of Carroll, Iowa, in 19 holes.
The remaining 32 players will play their second-round matches at Soldier Hollow on Thursday morning, beginning at 7:30 a.m. MDT. The winners will advance to the third round of match play, which are scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. MDT. The 36-hole final is set for Saturday.
The APL is one of 13 individual national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Michael Trostel is the curator/historian at the USGA Museum. Email him at email@example.com.
Midway, Utah – Results from Wednesday’s first round of match play at the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship being held at 7,670-yard, par-71 Soldier Hollow Golf Course.
Upper BracketAlex Edfort, Somerset, N.J. (146) def. James Erkenbeck, San Diego, Calif. (135), 21 holes
Benjamin Griffin, Chapel Hill, N.C. (144) def. Justin Fraley, Allen, Texas (143), 1 up
Zachary Blair, Ogden, Utah (140) def. Byron Meth, San Diego, Calif. (145), 4 and 3
Paul McConnell, Garland, Texas (145) def. Tyler Ekenberg, Apple Valley, Minn. (141), 2 up
Brett Patterson, McMinnville, Tenn. (138) def. Joseph Prince, San Diego, Calif. (146), 3 and 2
Steven Fox, Hendersonville, Tenn. (142) def. Mitchell Rutledge, Creve Coeur, Mo. (144), 2 and 1
Kevin Aylwin, New Smyrna Beach, Fla. (139) def. Jack Teal, Excelsior, Minn. (146), 19 holes
Scott McNeil, Philadelphia, Pa. (144) def. Seth Reeves, Duluth, Ga. (142), 20 holes
Jace Long, Dixon, Mo. (137) def. Aaron West, Woodland Hills, Calif. (146), 2 and 1
Kyle Beversdorf, Plymouth, Minn. (143) def. Chad Johnson, Plymouth, Mich. (144), 2 up
Tyler Klava, Pace, Fla. (145) def. Casey Fernandez, McAlester, Okla. (140), 2 and 1
Cody McManus, Phoenix, Ariz. (142) def. Ben Geyer, Arbuckle, Calif. (145), 1 up
Michael Kim, Del Mar, Calif. (138) def. Wes Hillen, Columbia, Ill. (146), 5 and 4
Payne Gniewek, Austin, Texas (143) def. Ryan Kuroiwa, Aiea, Hawaii (144), 3 and 2
Garrett Rank, Canada (140) def. Zach Fullerton, Albuquerque, N.M. (145), 2 and 1
Carlos Rodriguez, Colombia (142) def. Joel Dahlenburg, Saint Augustine, Fla. (145), 3 and 2
Lower BracketT. J. Vogel, Miami, Fla. (136) def. Paul Misko, Thousand Oaks, Calif. (146), 1 up
Greg Condon, Monte Vista, Colo. (143) def. Chelso Barrett, Keene, N.H. (144), 6 and 5
Alex Williams, Seattle, Wash. (145) def. Chris Williams, Moscow, Idaho (140), 2 and 1
Anton Arboleda, La Canada, Calif. (141) def. Thomas O'Bryan, Aurora, Ill. (145), 6 and 4
Jordan Wetsch, St. Charles, Ill. (138) def. Victor Kyatt, Hoover, Ala. (146), 20 holes
Alberto Sanchez, Nogales, Ariz. (144) def. Michael Blair, Canada (142), 4 and 3
Jacob Knapp, Costa Mesa, Calif. (146) def. Dan Horner, Sandy, Utah (140), 3 and 2
Bryson Dechambeau, Clovis, Calif. (142) def. Cody Robinson, Discovery Bay, Calif. (144), 2 and 1
Sam Saunders, Albuquerque, N.M. (146) def. Talor Gooch, Midwest City, Okla. (136), 2 and 1
Korky Kemp, Greensboro, N.C. (143) def. Tommy Ponce, Edwardsville, Ill. (144), 3 and 1
Justin Keiley, Haiku, Hawaii (140) def. Ryan Werre, Canada (145), 19 holes
Brad Schneider, Orlando, Fla. (141) def. Sam Horsfield, Davenport, Fla. (145), 4 and 2
Cheng-Tsung Pan, Chinese Taipei (138) def. Shane Smith, Godfrey, Ill. (146), 3 and 2
Xander Schauffele, San Diego, Calif. (143) def. Grant Weaver, Wooster, Ohio (144), 1 up
Derek Ernst, Clovis, Calif. (140) def. Kirby Pettitt, Carroll, Iowa (145), 19 holes
Richard Hattori, Honolulu, Hawaii (144) def. Manav Shah, Bakersfield, Calif. (142), 6 and 5
Midway, Utah – Pairings and starting times for Thursday’s second round of match play at the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship being held at 7,670-yard, par-71 Soldier Hollow Golf Course. All times MDT. (Note: Third round of match play to be played Thursday afternoon at Soldier Hollow
7:00 a.m. Alex Edfort, Somerset, N.J. (146) vs. Benjamin Griffin, Chapel Hill, N.C. (144)
7:10 a.m. Zachary Blair, Ogden, Utah (140) vs. Paul McConnell, Garland, Texas (145)
7:20 a.m. Brett Patterson, McMinnville, Tenn. (138) vs. Steven Fox, Hendersonville, Tenn. (142)
7:30 a.m. Kevin Aylwin, New Smyrna Beach, Fla. (139) vs. Scott McNeil, Philadelphia, Pa. (144)
7:40 a.m. Jace Long, Dixon, Mo. (137) vs. Kyle Beversdorf, Plymouth, Minn. (143)
7:50 a.m. Tyler Klava, Pace, Fla. (145) vs. Cody McManus, Phoenix, Ariz. (142)
8:00 a.m. Michael Kim, Del Mar, Calif. (138) vs. Payne Gniewek, Austin, Texas (143)
8:10 a.m. Garrett Rank, Canada (140) vs. Carlos Rodriguez, Colombia (142)
8:20 a.m. T. J. Vogel, Miami, Fla. (136) vs. Greg Condon, Monte Vista, Colo. (143)
8:30 a.m. Alex Williams, Seattle, Wash. (145) vs. Anton Arboleda, La Canada, Calif. (141)
8:40 a.m. Jordan Wetsch, St. Charles, Ill. (138) vs. Alberto Sanchez, Nogales, Ariz. (144)
8:50 a.m. Jacob Knapp, Costa Mesa, Calif. (146) vs. Bryson Dechambeau, Clovis, Calif. (142)
9:00 a.m. Sam Saunders, Albuquerque, N.M. (146) vs. Korky Kemp, Greensboro, N.C. (143)
9:10 a.m. Justin Keiley, Haiku, Hawaii (140) vs. Brad Schneider, Orlando, Fla. (141)
9:20 a.m. Cheng-Tsung Pan, Chinese Taipei (138) vs. Xander Schauffele, San Diego, Calif. (143)
9:30 a.m. Derek Ernst, Clovis, Calif. (140) vs. Richard Hattori, Honolulu, Hawaii (144)