MIDWAY, Utah – T.J. Vogel took things down to the wire in match play three times this week to advance to the next stage at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
If his play in the final Saturday is any indication, the University of Florida senior must have grown tired of seeing victories hinge on the final hole.
Vogel made six birdies over a seven-hole stretch and coasted to a 12-and-10 win over Kevin Aylwin, earning him a spot in the 2013 Masters field.
''It's too surreal now to think I'll be playing in the Masters,'' Vogel said. ''Once I get that invitation, it will hit me.''
Vogel seized control during the first 18 holes in the morning, with birdies on the second and fourth to go 3 up. Aylwin bogeyed the first, sixth and eighth to drop back even further and never quite settled into a groove after those three holes.
After going 5 up on the front nine, Vogel unleashed a flurry after the turn with birdies on the 12th, 13th and 14th holes. He closed with another three in a row to move 10 up at the conclusion of the morning session of match play.
A rainstorm at the start of the afternoon session did nothing to halt Vogel's momentum. Fittingly, he clinched the win with another birdie on the eighth hole. Vogel either made par or sank a birdie on all 26 holes he played. He finished with a total of 10 birdies.
Aylwin hoped to turn the tide in the afternoon, but he also realized it was an uphill climb to get back into contention.
''I was just trying to stay out there as long as I could,'' Aylwin said.
Vogel credited his driving ability with being the difference maker on those holes. He drove the ball well off the tee and his wedge play was nearly perfect. It left Vogel with plenty of opportunities to chip in for birdie from short distances.
Even while battling his own perfectionist tendencies, Vogel said he played strong golf all week at Soldier Hollow. He felt he had good numbers all week and his confidence grew with each shot he hit.
''I felt like I could carry the weight of the world on my shoulders this week,'' Vogel said. ''That's how confident I felt with my game.''