After three rounds of match play, defending U.S. Amateur champ Byeong-Hun An has yet to play either the 17th or 18th holes at Chambers Bay. And no one seems to be paying attention.
An rolled into the Friday quarterfinals with a pair of impressive victories on Thursday when Chambers Bay became progressively more difficult as the breezes off Puget Sound became howling gales.
An’s day started with a 4 and 3 victory over Alex Shi Yup Kim in the morning. After a brief break and with the winds picking up, An beat Alabama’s Scott Strohmeyer 3 and 2.
“This afternoon, I have no idea what happened there. It was so windy. I just kept playing golf,” An said.
An now gets someone he’ll soon become quite familiar with: California teammate Max Homa. An is an incoming freshman at Cal, while Homa bounced in and out of the Golden Bears lineup last year as a freshman. But he’s been rolling since arriving at Chambers Bay. Homa routed Carter Newman 7 and 6 on Thursday morning, then reached the quarterfinals with a 4 and 3 win over Harris English.
Homa, who took out local favorite T.J. Bordeaux in the first round of match play, also has yet to see No. 18 in any of his matches.
With winds blowing between 20 and 30 mph and the waters of Puget Sound turning into choppy whitecaps, the round of 16 became a struggle to avoid major mistakes.
An did just that. While far from perfect in making six bogeys during his match with Strohmeyer, An simply didn’t let holes get away. He won three straight holes -- Nos. 8, 9 and 10 -- then matched Strohmeyer from there.
“I was not playing well before I came here so it was the same thing as last year, I was just trying to make match play,” An said. “… Now I’m kind of feeling as I did last year, starting to get that feeling of confidence.”
Friday’s other quarterfinals are filled with intrigue. David Chung, the winner of the Western Amateur, rallied from 2 down early to beat Brad Benjamin 2 and 1. He’ll get reigning NCAA champ Scott Langley, who finally didn’t need extra holes to advance.
“I didn’t win the match. I just survived a little better than he did,” Chung said.
Langley held off Augusta State’s Patrick Reed in the morning matches, winning in 19 holes, a day after needing an extra hole to beat Tim Jackson. Every hole from the 11th onward was won outright and some in dramatic fashion, including Reed’s chip in from a greenside bunker to win the 16th and pull even. Langley won No. 17 and Reed forced extra holes winning the 18th before Reed’s tee shot on the first extra hole found the long fescue on a large dune along the first fairway.
In the afternoon, Langley rolled past Australian Kyle McCarthy, winning 6 and 4.
“I’m happy with the way I’ve been competitive,” Langley said. “The first two matches I was down early and didn’t give up and kept fighting. I’m happy with the way I performed down the stretch in those matches.”
The bottom half of the bracket features a matchup of Oklahoma State teammates with Morgan Hoffmann and Peter Uihlein meeting. Hoffman had an easy time on Thursday, needing just 30 holes to dispatch of Richard Werenski (6 and 4) and Alex Ching (4 and 2).
Uihlein’s day was more difficult. Ranked by some publications as the top American amateur, Uihlein edged Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo 2 up in the morning, then rallied from 2 down after nine holes to beat John Hahn in 19 holes, finishing up just as the sun started down on the horizon.
“The wind was brutal and I was fortunate to come out on top. John played a good match,” Uihlein said. “… It was grueling. It was not easy.”
Patrick Cantlay, an 18-year-old from Southern California who finished tied for second in stroke play, was 4 up with five holes left against Connor Arendell. Cantlay tried to squander his lead and was forced to the 18th before holding on for a 1 up win.
Cantlay will face Jed Dirksen, who has gone without a caddie and twice walked Chambers Bay Thursday carrying his own bag. Dirksen beat Joseph Bramlett in 19 holes.