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Niebrugge wins Western Amateur, likely locks up Walker Cup spot

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Jordan Niebrugge’s incredible summer run continued Monday at the Western Amateur.

All square in his final match against Sean Dale, the Oklahoma State sophomore ran off three consecutive wins when play resumed at the Alotian Club and dropped only one hole the rest of the way en route to a 3-and-2 victory.

This latest victory should lock up an improbable Walker Cup berth for Niebrugge, who wasn’t even on captain Jim Holtgrieve’s radar before this summer. But in the past three weeks, the 20-year-old has bolstered his resume by capturing the U.S. Amateur Public Links, Wisconsin Amateur and Western Amateur – all match-play events.

His latest feat is undoubtedly his most impressive. The Western Amateur is the most grueling test in amateur golf, with 72 holes of stroke-play qualifying, followed by two matches on both Saturday and Sunday. It also boasts the strongest field of the summer.

In the match-play bracket, Niebrugge knocked off Cowboys teammate Talor Gooch and Georgia Tech’s Seth Reeves, then staged an unlikely rally against Arkansas’ Sebastian Cappelen, winning the last two holes for a 1-up victory.

The scheduled 18-hole hole final against Dale, a former All-American at North Florida, was suspended after eight holes Sunday because of weather.

When play resumed at 7 a.m. local time in Arkansas, Niebrugge won Nos. 9, 10 and 11 to build a 3-up lead he wouldn’t relinquish. He dropped the 15th hole after a Dale birdie, but closed out the match with a par on No. 16.

Dale will now fight for what seems like two other available berths. Five players – Michael Kim, Max Homa, Justin Thomas, Cory Whitsett and Patrick Rodgers – have already been named to the squad that will take on Great Britain and Ireland on Sept. 7-8, and a new USGA rule stipulates that at least two mid-am players must be selected.

That virtually ensures at least one elite amateur will be left off the team that tees it up at National Golf Links of America. Dale, who won the prestigious Jones Cup at the beginning of the year and reached the finals here, will now be considered along with the upcoming U.S. Amateur champion, Alabama’s Bobby Wyatt, the seventh-ranked American amateur, and Cal’s Michael Weaver, the 2012 U.S. Amateur runner-up who made the cut at this year’s U.S. Open.

It should be a decidedly less anxious time for Niebrugge, after his third victory in as many weeks.