August 17, 2012
CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. - Brandon Hagy and Michael Weaver rolled to victories Friday in quarterfinal matches of the 112th U.S. Amateur being hosted by the Cherry Hills Country Club to advance to Saturday's semifinal action. Hagy and Weaver were both 4 & 3 winners over their opponents Cheng-Tsung Pan and Ricardo Gouveia.
"Both guys just played great golf," head coach Steve Desimone said. "I'm not just proud of the fact that they're in the semis, but I'm proud of the way they are representing not just our program but our university in exactly the way we would love to have both of them representing us. It just doesn't get any better than this in the highest levels not just of amateur golf but of amateur athletics."
"These are not just two great players but two great student-athletes," Desimone added about his two players that are also enrolled in Cal's prestigious Haas School of Business. "This is the way college athletics should be and that has been a theme here."
The match play portion of the event that began Wednesday is being televised by both Golf Channel and NBC. Golf Channel will air two hours of program from Friday's quarterfinals (5:30 - 7:30 p.m. PT), while NBC will televise two hours from Saturday's semifinals (1-3 p.m. PT) and two hours of Sunday's 36-hole finals (1-3 p.m. PT).
Weaver will tee off against Justin Thomas in Saturday's first semifinal at 8:00 a.m. CT. Thomas, who won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the top player in collegiate golf as a freshman at Alabama in 2011-12, was a 2 up winner over Oliver Goss on Friday.
Hagy will face Steven Fox of Tennessee at 8:15 a.m. CT. Fox was a 4 & 2 winner over Chris Williams in their quarterfinal.
Hagy and Weaver are the first pair of Cal players to ever advance to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur in the same year and only the third and fourth in school history. Robert Hamilton was a runner-up in 2001, while Ben An won the event in 2009 and was a semifinalist in 2010. An played as a freshman at Cal in 2010-11 before turning professional. Both Hagy and Weaver are in match play action at the event for the first time in their careers.
"What an incredible week so far," Hagy said. "It's pretty incredible that we have two Golden Bears in the semis of the U.S. Am. It just shows how much Michael and I have improved as players as well as how much better our program is getting."
"Having two Golden Bears in the semifinals is awesome, and being on the opposite side of the bracket is even better and allows for a potential all-Cal final," Weaver said. "I hope it plays out that way. Playing one of my best friends in the finals of the U.S. Amateur would be about as good as it gets."
Hagy was down to Cheng-Tsung Pan by two holes after the first four Friday following Pan's birdie on the par-four second and Hagy's double bogey on the par-four fourth. But Hagy came roaring back to take the lead, winning the next three holes with an eagle on the par-five fifth, Pan's bogey on the par-three sixth and a birdie on the par-four seventh. Hagy increased his advantage to three holes when Pan bogeyed the par-four 10th and Hagy eagled the par-five 11th. He closed out the match with a birdie on the par-three 15th.
"It was key for me to stay patient after Pan's quick start," Hagy said. "I capitalized on a few of his mistakes and made some really clutch putts again today."
After a dramatic day on Thursday that included qualifying for match play during a playoff and then two late comeback wins, Weaver never trailed Friday in his match against Ricardo Gouveia. Weaver took his first lead when Gouveia bogeyed the second hole and steadily increased it until reaching a four-hole advantage after Weaver birdied five, and Gouveia bogeyed the par-three eighth and par-four ninth. Gouveia won his first hole of the match with a birdie on 11 and picked up a second hole with another birdie on the par-four 13th, but Weaver prevented a substantial run with his birdie to win the par-three 12th in between Gouveia's victories. The match was decided when Gouveia bogeyed the 15th.
"I played pretty solid today on the front nine and that gave me a big cushion going into the back," Weaver said.
"Michael was in total control of the match," Desimone added.
Cal had five players in the event with Max Homa, Michael Kim and Walker Huddy also participating. Homa was eliminated by Thomas in the Round of 16, while Kim made it to the Round of 64 before being defeated by Bobby Leopold. Huddy was one stroke shy of getting into same playoff Weaver was in 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 have 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.