U.S. Amateur Round of 64: Five Things to Know
August 15, 2018 | Pebble Beach, Calif.
By Dave Shedloski
Welcome to one of the most exciting days on the golf calendar. Now that stroke play is complete, the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship moves into the gut-wrenching, gut-checking match-play phase at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Nothing much is happening. Only 32 matches featuring some of the finest amateurs in the world competing on one of the game’s most famous and scenic venues. It’s sporting drama packaged from sunrise up to sunset. Ho hum.
This is a day when not only the players will be challenged. Fans will have their hands full just trying to keep up with the action. Good thing you’re reading this, because here’s a handy guide to some of the key things to watch for on Day 3 of the U.S. Amateur.
Twenty-four competitors tied for 64th in stroke play, which is the final spot in the match-play draw. They return to compete for that highly coveted spot starting at 7:30 a.m. PDT Wednesday, and it could all be over quickly or take a while. The difficult par-3 17th hole, measuring 219 yards, is the first extra hole, and a birdie would likely knock out a lot of competitors. In the two rounds of medal play there were only 18 birdies converted by the 312 players. Survivors move on to the par-five 18th and they will alternate between the two holes until there is one man standing.
This could be one dangerous man in match play. In his ninth appearance in the championship, the Newport Beach, Calif., native qualified for match play for the first time, and he did it in style, with his back against the wall. Hagestad, 27, who won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur, rebounded from an opening 76 at Spyglass Hill with a 5-under 66, the low round of the championship, at Pebble Beach. “I'm really proud of the way that I scored,” Hagestad said of his bogey-free round. “I feel like a huge monkey has been lifted off my back.”
Pebble Beach offers some intriguing possibilities in match play. Is it wise to try to drive the green at the 320-yard, par-4 fourth hole? Which players might opt to hit driver on No. 18 and attempt to reach the green on the iconic par-5 hole in two shots? How aggressively will some play the short opening hole to get a quick lead? Possibilities abound.
Tough Around the Middle
Look for a lot of matches to turn at the turn. Holes 8, 9 and 10, all par 4s along the coast, were three of the four toughest holes at Pebble Beach during stroke play. The par-4 10th hole, measuring 492 yards, was particularly stingy, allowing just 11 birdies, tied for the lowest of the week with the second hole, which was converted from a par 5 to a par 4 for the championship.
Jackson Van Paris
A native of Pinehurst, N.C., Van Paris is the second-youngest player ever to reach match play in the U.S. Amateur, at 14 years and 11 months. Ryota Ito, 14 years and 1 month, advanced to match play in 2004, but lost in the Round of 64. Van Paris, who shot 3-over 146, including 72 at Pebble Beach on Monday, thus has a chance to make history as the youngest player to advance to the Round of 32.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA digital channels.