August 16, 2012
CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. - Brandon Hagy and Michael Weaver each won a pair of matches Thursday at the 112th U.S. Amateur being hosted by the Cherry Hills Country Club to advance to Friday's quarterfinal action. Cal has now had a pair of golfers in the quarterfinals of the event twice in the last three years, following the 2010 appearances of Ben An and Max Homa, who was defeated Thursday in his bid to return to the quarterfinals by 2011-12 Jack Nicklaus Award winner Justin Thomas of Alabama.
"Obviously it was an exciting day," head coach Steve Desimone said. "This was a quite a day for the guys and obviously it's very significant and positive for our golf program."
Weaver will face Ricardo Gouveia of Central Florida in the second quarterfinal match of the day on Friday (8:45 a.m. CT), while Hagy will take on Washington's Cheng-Tsung Pan in the fourth and final quarterfinal beginning at 9:15 a.m. CT.
The match play portion of the event is being televised by both Golf Channel and NBC. Golf Channel had two hours of programming from both Wednesday's first-round matches and Thursday's Rounds of 32 and 16. Golf Channel will also provide two hours of coverage of Friday's quarterfinals (5:30 - 7:30 p.m. PT), while NBC will televise two hours of Saturday's semifinals (1-3 p.m. PT) and Sunday's finals (1-3 p.m. PT).
Both Hagy and Weaver are in match play action at the event for the first time in their careers.
Weaver made a pair of dramatic comebacks in his both his 2 up victory over Stanford's Patrick Rodgers and a 19-hole triumph against Albin Choi of North Carolina State.
Weaver trailed by three holes with six to play against Rodgers before running off back-to-back birdies on the par-four 13th and 14th holes, and then taking advantage of a Rodgers bogey on the par-three 15th to tie the match. After both golfers made par on the par-four 16th, Weaver took the lead for good with a birdie on the par-five 17th and won the match when Rodgers bogeyed 18. Weaver also started well by winning the first two holes, both par-fours, eagling No. 1 and winning the second on a Rodgers bogey. But Rodgers evened the match with a birdie on the par-four third and another on the par-three eighth before taking his first lead on Weaver's bogey on the par-four ninth. Rodgers would extend his lead to three holes when Weaver made bogey on the par-four 10th and Rodgers eagled the par-five 11th before Weaver's comeback began two holes later.
Weaver's dramatics continued in his second win of the day over Choi in the Round of 16. Choi won the first two holes both with back-to-back birdies and would never trail until the 19th and final hole when Weaver made a birdie after the players had returned to the course's first hole to begin a playoff. Weaver had cut Choi's early two-hole lead to a single hole on three different occasions when Choi bogeyed the par-five fifth, par-four seventh and par-four ninth holes. But each of the first two times, Weaver immediately lost the hole with his double bogey on the par-three sixth and Choi's birdie on eight.
"I'm really happy with how I came back in both matches and stayed mentally tough through all the ups and downs today," Weaver said.
"Those have to be two of the best comebacks in the history of the U.S. Amateur," Desimone added. "Holy Toledo, you talk about clutch and you talk about digging deep to pull out a couple of holes."
Hagy's wins were certainly impressive albeit it much less dramatic.
Hagy would trail for only two holes all day, falling behind when his Round of 32 opponent Paul Misko birdied the first hole of their match. But Hagy would birdie the third hole and a Misko bogey on four put Hagy up to stay. Hagy would get to 6 up with birdies on the fifth, eighth and 11th holes, and Misko bogeys on seven and the par-four ninth. Misko would win his second and final hole when Hagy doubled 13 before running out of holes after both players made par at 14.
Hagy would win two of the first three holes of his Round of 16 match with Patrick Newcomb of Murray State with birdies on the first and third holes, and increased his lead another hole when he birdied five. Newcomb climbed back into the match a couple of times, with the first occasion coming when Hagy posted back-to-back bogeys on the eighth and ninth holes. Hagy birdied 11 to go back up two but his margin fell back to a single hole when he bogeyed 13. But Hagy clinched the match three holes later after a Newcomb bogey on 15 and his own birdie on 16 after his approach gave him a five-footer to close out the match.
"My putter got really hot and kept the pressure on the entire match in my first win," Hagy said. "In my second match, I stuck to the game plan and made some clutch shots when I needed them."
Homa won the first two holes of his 3 & 1 loss on a Thomas bogey and his own birdie, and led for the first eight holes. Thomas would birdie three to get back to a single hole deficit but Homa increased his lead to two holes one more time with a birdie on five. Thomas cut it back to one with a birdie on eight before tying the match for the first time when Homa bogeyed nine. Homa took one more lead with his birdie on the par-three 12th but gave it right back with a bogey on 13. Both players made par at 14 before Homa bogeyed 15 to give Thomas his first lead of the day. Thomas then closed out the match with back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17.
Cal had five players in the event with Michael Kim and Walker Huddy joining the trio that played Thursday. Kim made it to the round of 64 before being eliminated, while Huddy was one stroke shy of getting into a playoff to possibly earn a spot in match play after two rounds of stroke play ended Tuesday.
"I'm really proud of the way the guys have played, not just Brandon and Michael, but all five guys really competed and made this quite a U.S. Amateur," Desimone said. "I'm obviously very proud and very pleased that we have had such success at the U.S. Amateur."
Cal players have had a tremendous amount of success in recent years at the U.S. Amateur, with more golfers than any other collegiate program in the nation participating in the event for the second time in three years in 2012. The Bears also had the most players in the event of any collegiate program in the country in 2010 when they sent a school-record six, including semifinalist An, who defeated Homa in a quarterfinal match. In 2009 just over a year before he would arrive at Cal as a freshman in 2010, An won the event at 17 years of age to become the youngest ever U.S. Amateur champion.