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Goss defeats friend Watt, advances to U.S. Am finals

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BROOKLINE, Mass. – They’ve played together hundreds of times over the past few years, but on the biggest stages, Oliver Goss still has the upper hand against fellow Australian Brady Watt.

Facing off against his good mate in the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur, Goss took a 1-up lead with a conceded birdie on No. 11, then hung on for a 2-up victory Saturday after Watt made bogey on the final hole.

Both players are ranked inside the top 15 in the R&A’s World Amateur Rankings – Watt is ninth, Goss 13th – and it was their fourth high-profile showdown in the past 16 months.

Goss has prevailed each time.

First there was the narrow victory in the stroke-play portion at the Western Australian Amateur, and then again a few days later in match play. Then came the Western Australian Open last October, where both players finished birdie-birdie to force a playoff before running off four consecutive birdies in extra holes. Goss eventually won the professional event with a par on the fifth playoff hole.

“He’s always been a serious talent,” Watt said of Goss, 19, who is a sophomore at Tennessee. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders, and he’s really relaxed. I think the older he gets, the better he’ll be.”

The turning point in their match Saturday at The Country Club came on the 505-yard 14th. Watt stuffed his long-iron approach inside 3 feet (his ball even caught a piece of the cup), but Goss sank a 35-footer to halve the hole.

“I don’t know if I could do it again if I had 100 balls,” Goss said of his birdie putt.

Now that he’s out of the tournament, Watt will caddie for Goss in Sunday’s 36-hole final against Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick.

“I think we both bring the best out of ourselves,” Watt said. “I hope all the best for him tomorrow, and I hope he can dig deep enough and get the result he wants.”