UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Scott Langley’s fist pump after dropping a 15-foot putt on the first extra hole was as much relief as exhilaration.
Langley, the reigning NCAA champion and low amateur at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, outlasted 51-year-old Tim Jackson on Wednesday in the first round of match play at the U.S. Amateur.
Forced to play the daunting par-5 first hole yet again, Langley knocked his pitching wedge from 115 yards onto the putting surface after Jackson missed the green from nearly the same spot. Langley, who won the NCAA individual title as a junior, then ended a long trip around dry and hot Chambers Bay by sinking his birdie putt.
“I would rather have won it in less holes and saved energy,” Langley said. “… As soon as I saw Tim’s name I knew I was going to have to play well to beat him. We had quite the match.”
Langley was one of the bigger names to get through the first day of match play. Defending champion Byeong-Hun An rolled to a 3 and 2 victory over David Dannelly in his first match, while Pac-10 co-player of the year Eugene Wong needed 19 holes to beat Joe Saladino. Wong rallied to win the final four holes of the match after being 3 down with just three to play.
Others weren’t as fortunate. Local favorite and Hogan Award winner Nick Taylor – who played nearby at Washington – lost to Chian Kim 4 and 2. Kevin Tway, the son of Champions Tour player Bob Tway and the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur champ, was defeated 1-up by Blayne Barber.
Medalist Jeff Wilson, a 47-year-old car dealer from Fairfield, Calif., had his start time pushed back by the handful of matches going extra holes and didn’t start his match against Amory Davis until nearly 3 p.m. local time. Davis was leading 1-up through seven holes.
Davis was the final survivor of a 16-for-6 playoff early Wednesday morning that determined the final spots in match play.
Jackson was the low amateur at the U.S. Senior Open last month just up the road at Sahalee Country Club and finished ninth during stroke play here. He jumped out to a 2-up lead before Langley got up-and-down out of the greenside bunker on the ninth hole to trim the deficit. They were all square after the 16th, but Langley went ahead on No. 17 when his pitching wedge on the par 3 settled to 4 feet.
Jackson was able to force an extra hole by making a downhill 8-foot putt on the 18th after Langley’s long par putt missed.
“I played well early and he played well in the middle holes and we both had chances. It came down to a putt (and) that’s fun,” Jackson said. “I’d like to be on the top side of that, but looking back I hit a lot of good shots and I competed well.”