PARAMUS, N.J. – All of it got here right down to a tree.
The 100-plus-foot tall oak serves as an aiming level from the tee field at The Ridgewood Nation Membership’s 584-yard, par-5 seventeenth gap, and on Tuesday it performed a task in deciding the fates of two gamers who met within the semifinals a 12 months in the past on the USGA’s oldest championship.
Travis Vick and Austin Greaser, grouped collectively for stroke play, arrived on the penultimate gap, each gamers preventing to make the match-play minimize on the 122nd U.S. Newbie. Greaser, at 7 over, wanted some heroics, particularly a birdie-birdie end to get into what was shaping as much as be a playoff at 5 over. Vick, nonetheless, was 4 over and solely wanted a pair of pars to keep away from that playoff – which ended up being a 15-for-11 slugfest that can start on the quick, par-3 fifteenth at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday – by a shot.
Off the tee, Greaser discovered the golf green, however his second required a minimize across the large tree.
Vick’s drive sailed by the golf green, previous the thick tough and into the fescue, that very same tree about 100 yards forward and between Vick and the outlet. His subsequent shot was actually do or die – if he didn’t pull it off, he may very well be taking a look at bogey or worse, and sure an early journey again to Texas.
“I had an OK lie, however there was positively doubt after I was addressing the ball,” Vick stated. “I used to be like, ‘Make or break, simply swing out of my footwear, hope for the perfect.’”
Vick ended up launching his ball with a wedge, sky excessive, over the large tree and into the golf green, a shot that triggered one veteran gear rep’s jaw to drop – and he wasn’t alone. Vick parred the outlet and the following to shoot 5-over 76, which was simply ok to make sure a pair additional hours of sleep on Tuesday evening.
Greaser, although, wasn’t as lucky. Just a few holes earlier, on the par-5 thirteenth, he had pulled off probably the most spectacular up-and-down birdies this amateur-golf scribe has seen in over a decade, hooding a wedge from a extreme downhill lie, in thick fescue and above the placing floor, killing it in some sticky tough and getting the ball to someway trickle down 8 ft in need of the outlet. It arrange Greaser’s second straight birdie, and it received the current Western Newbie champ again to six over.
A sloppy bogey on No. 14 didn’t assist, however as soon as his second shot on No. 17 clanked off the trunk of that oak tree, Greaser’s possibilities at a miraculous rally have been over. He managed to par the outlet, however he closed in double bogey, additionally hitting a tree on No. 18, to shoot 77 and by 4 photographs ended any hope of bettering his runner-up end from final 12 months.
“In fact, I’m dissatisfied, however simply didn’t hit the motive force very nicely both day, and out right here and at Arcola [the co-host for stroke play], it’s not good to be within the tough,” Greaser stated. “It stinks. It’s going to sting for just a few hours. This match means rather a lot to me. It was enjoyable to do what I did final 12 months, and I gave it my finest this 12 months, simply didn’t have it.”
Greaser, who now heads again to the College of North Carolina for his senior 12 months, wasn’t the one massive title exiting Ridgewood early. Vanderbilt teammates Cole Sherwood and William Moll (+6), Pepperdine’s William Mouw (+6), Alabama’s Nick Dunlap (+7), North Carolina’s David For (+7), Oklahoma State’s Bo Jin (+8), Wake Forest’s Michael Brennan (+9), Arizona State’s Preston Summerhays (+9), Tennessee’s Caleb Surratt (+10) and 15-year-old Thai standout T.Ok. Chantananuwat (+10) additionally missed the minimize.
Moll’s MC was arguably probably the most heartbreaking, as he double-bogeyed his ultimate gap, No. 18 at Arcola, to narrowly miss the playoff, which incorporates notables comparable to Stanford’s Karl Vilips, Pepperdine’s Derek Hitchner and up to date Florida Gulf Coast grad Frankie Capan.
And talking of closing doubles, Stanford’s Michael Thorbjornsen, an All-American and final 12 months’s Western Newbie winner, capped his day with a fatted fairway bunker shot and three-putt from 8 ft on Arcola’s ninth gap. Fortunately for Thorbjornsen, the 2018 U.S. Junior champion, the double didn’t price him a spot in match play.
However what it did give up was solo medalist honors. Thorbjornsen was cruising at 5 beneath, 2 beneath on his spherical, earlier than the bumpy end knocked him again to three beneath. He as an alternative ended up tied for first with Florida’s Fred Biondi, Ole Miss’ Hugo Townsend and Iowa State’s Luke Gutschewski, the son of present PGA Tour professional Scott Gutschewski. Biondi would be the No. 1 seed, adopted by Gutschewski, Townsend after which Thorbjornsen.
“I’m simply pissed concerning the double itself,” Thorbjornsen stated afterward at Ridgewood, the place he returned to observe Greaser end up. “I don’t care whether or not I’m solo medalist or co-medalist. I’m not pleased with the way in which I performed driving-wise; I’m pleased with the way in which I scored, but it surely’s unacceptable the way in which I am hitting my driver proper now.”
To supply the younger standout some perspective, he wasn’t the one one feeling pissed off Tuesday night. Simply eight gamers broke par for 36 holes. That small group additionally included Vanderbilt’s Gordon Sargent, the reigning NCAA particular person champion, who fired a 5-under 65 at Arcola on Tuesday to earn the fifth seed at 2 beneath.
Greater than half the 312-player area completed at double-digits over par.
The sphere scoring averages have been practically six photographs over par at Ridgewood and simply over 5 strokes over par at Arcola.
And the co-medalist rating of three beneath? The best in championship historical past.
“Dude, it was so nerve-wracking,” Vick stated. “This course is a beast, and attempting to handle this course while you’re not on is a tall activity, and that was me right now. While you’re off, you possibly can’t play this course.”
Protected to say, whoever is the final one standing Sunday with the Havemeyer Trophy, having efficiently navigated this week’s match-play tree, can have earned it.