2 down with 2 to play, Redman rallies for U.S. Am title

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2017, 2:25 am

LOS ANGELES – No town does drama like LA, but even by Hollywood standards this was a finish that no one saw coming.

OK, except John Redman.

Conspicuous in a Clemson orange fishing shirt, he had spent the past eight hours pacing Riviera Country Club and puffing on an e-cigarette. But with his son Doc’s U.S. Amateur title hopes fading, the elder Redman felt compelled to emerge from the trees. On the 17th hole, he sidled up to Clemson assistant coach Jordan Byrd and dismissed any notion of impending doom.

“This is not over,” Redman said. “This is not over yet.”

And sure enough, the next 45 minutes produced some of the most thrilling and gut-wrenching action in the 117-year history of this championship.

With a red-hot putter and stone-cold demeanor, Doc Redman walked in a 60-footer for eagle on 17, stiffed his approach into the final hole and then made a conceded birdie on the first playoff hole to steal the U.S. Amateur title and stun Doug Ghim in 37 holes.

“I don’t want to overdo it,” John Redman said later, clutching the gold Havemeyer Trophy, “but Doc could have missed 15 putts in a row and if there’s one person I need to make a 10-footer to win a tournament, I’d substitute Doc every time.

“Dude is super clutch.”

There’s no doubt about that now.

Little was known about the 19-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., until the recent Western Amateur, where he steamrolled the best field in amateur golf en route to the finals. In the championship match against Norman Xiong, Redman fell 4 down at the turn, but he chipped away at his deficit, lipped out a putt to win on the 18th hole and ended up taking Xiong to 22 holes before eventually falling.

“A lot less dramatic,” he said with a wry smile.


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But watching from outside the ropes that week was U.S. Walker Cup captain Spider Miller, who was enthralled with Redman’s “bulldog” mentality.

“This is the toughest match-play guy I’ve ever seen,” Miller said.

During his first year at Clemson, Redman worked with two sports psychologists and devoured a handful of mental-game books. Recently accepted into the school’s Honors College with an emphasis in mathematics, Redman takes a methodical approach to his game, but a message this spring from the coach of the New Zealand rugby team – “Pressure is a privilege” – seemed to resonate.

“He just thrives in that situation,” Byrd said. “It narrows his focus. The moment isn’t too big for him.”

It seemed unlikely that Redman would even be in position to win the U.S. Amateur after qualifying. He was fortunate just to land in a 13-for-8 playoff, and his par was enough to secure his spot in match play.

All week, Clemson head coach Larry Penley and Redman have had a running joke: S&A. Survive and advance.

After the playoff, Redman texted his coach: “I guess I survived. Now I need to advance.”

And then he did, taking four of his five opponents to the 18th hole before hanging on to win. On the eve of the championship match, Penley tapped out a final pep talk: “You have survived. You cannot advance any further. Now go out and let’s win this darn thing.”

All it took was one of the wildest performances ever.

After a shaky double-bogey start, Redman had 12 consecutive one-putts and shot a back-nine 30 to take a 1-up lead over Ghim into the lunch break.

Eight of the first 10 holes in the afternoon were halved with par, but Ghim began his comeback with a birdie on the 29th hole to square the match, then took a 2-up lead after pars on the 31st and 34th holes.

Two up with two to play, and with only a single bogey all day, the Texas senior seemed on the verge of a redemptive performance. Just three years ago, he stood on the final hole of the U.S. Amateur Public Links with a 1-up lead, then blasted his tee shot of bounds. He made double bogey, then lost in the playoff, and he vowed not to make the same mistake twice.

But this loss was even more agonizing.

With Ghim looking at about 5 feet for birdie on 17 to seal the match, Redman eyed a must-make 60-footer for eagle.

“I’d reminded him all week that he was the best putter I’d ever seen,” said his caddie, Dean Emerson.

Playing at least 3 feet of break, Redman stroked his putt and began walking down the line.

His ball slammed into the back of the cup.

One down.

“His putting was insane,” Emerson said, and indeed it was – Redman sank four putts of at least 30 feet, and he holed countless testers inside 10 feet.

“He is a great putter,” Byrd said, “but today was epic.”

Then it was Ghim’s turn to gather himself.

Ghim’s father and caddie, Jeff, reminded him that he still was in control with a 1-up lead, but he opened the door with an approach shot into 18 that expired short of the green. Wasting little time, Redman carved a 9-iron up and around a tree that finished 9 feet away.

Of course that one found the bottom of the cup, too.

“Those were two really heavy blows,” Ghim said.

What came next seemed inevitable, with one player sprinting toward the finish line, the other stumbling.

Redman smashed his 3-wood into the perfect spot, just short of the diabolical 10th green, while Ghim rope-hooked his tee shot into the hay left of the green. With no shot to go at the tucked flag, Ghim caught too much ball and sent his pitch shot screaming over the green, into a bunker. He had no shot from there, either, and he couldn’t hold the green with his bunker shot. After another mediocre bunker shot and missed 10-footer, he conceded Redman’s birdie. Redman played the last three holes in 4 under par.

“What can I do?” Ghim said.

The finish was awkward, with all of the contrasting emotions.

Redman barely cracked a smile all day, but he finally allowed himself to soak in the adulation. On the other side of the green was Ghim, who waited nearly three minutes to be interviewed on TV and then stared vacantly as the trophy presentation was hastily assembled.

This was no Hollywood ending, at least not for Ghim.

“I gave everything I had,” he said, shaking his head, “and it just wasn’t enough.”

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1, 2, 3 out: Thornberry, Suh, Morikawa lose at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 1:14 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The top three players in the world had a tough afternoon Wednesday at Pebble Beach.

Braden Thornberry, Justin Suh and Collin Morikawa – Nos. 1-3, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – all lost their Round of 64 matches at the U.S. Amateur.

Thornberry lost, 2 and 1, to Jesus Montenegro of Argentina. As the No. 1 amateur in the world, the Ole Miss senior was in line to receive the McCormack Medal, which would exempt him into both summer Opens in 2019, provided he remains amateur. But now he’ll need to wait and see how the rankings shake out.

Suh and Morikawa could have played each other in the Round of 32, but instead they were both heading home early.


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Suh, a junior at USC, never led in his 1-up loss to Harrison Ott, while Cal's Morikawa lost to another Vanderbilt player, John Augenstein, in 19 holes.

Englishman Matthew Jordan is the fourth-ranked player in the world, but he didn’t make the 36-hole stroke-play cut.

The highest-ranked player remaining is Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, who is ranked fifth. With his college coach, Alan Bratton, on the bag, Hovland beat his Cowboys teammate, Hayden Wood, 3 and 2, to reach the Round of 32.

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Fiery Augenstein outduels Morikawa at U.S. Amateur

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 12:55 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Around the Vanderbilt golf team John Augenstein’s nickname is “Flash,” and it’s easy to see why.

The swing loaded with speed.

The on-course charisma.

The big shot in the big moment.

The Commodores junior added another highlight to his growing collection Wednesday, when he defeated world No. 3 Collin Morikawa in 19 holes during a Round of 64 match at the U.S. Amateur.

Out of sorts early at Pebble Beach, Augenstein was 2 down to Morikawa after butchering the short seventh and then misplaying a shot around the green on 8.

Standing on the ninth tee, he turned to Vanderbilt assistant coach/caddie Gator Todd: "I need to play the best 10 holes of my life to beat Collin."

And did he?

“I don’t know,” he said later, smirking, “but I did enough.”

Augenstein won the ninth hole after Morikawa dumped his approach shot into the hazard, drained a 30-footer on 10 to square the match and then took his first lead when he rolled in a 10-footer on 14.

One down with three holes to go, Morikawa stuffed his approach into 16 while Augenstein, trying to play a perfect shot, misjudged the wind and left himself in a difficult position, short and right of the green. Augenstein appeared visibly frustrated once he found his ball, buried in the thick ryegrass short of the green. He told Todd that he didn’t think he’d be able to get inside of Morikawa’s shot about 6 feet away, but he dumped his pitch shot onto the front edge, rode the slope and trickled it into the cup for an unlikely birdie.

“Come on!” he yelled, high-fiving Todd and tossing his wedge at his bag.

“It was beautiful,” Todd said. “I’m not sure how he did that, but pretty cool that it went in.”  


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Morikawa answered by making birdie, then won the 17th with a par before both players halved the home hole with birdies.

On the first extra hole, Augenstein hit his approach to 15 feet while Morikawa left it short. Morikawa raced his first putt by 6 feet and then missed the comebacker to lose the match.

It may not have been the best 10-hole stretch of Augenstein’s career, but after that pep talk on 9 tee, he went 4 under to the house.

“He’s a fiery little dude,” Morikawa said of his 5-foot-8-inch opponent. “You don’t want to get him on the wrong side because you never know what’s going to happen. He’s not going to give shots away.”

The first-round match was a rematch of the Western Amateur quarterfinals two weeks ago, where Augenstein also won, that time by a 4-and-2 margin.

“It’s the most fun format and where I can be my true self – emotional and aggressive and beat people,” Augenstein said.

That’s what he did at the 2017 SECs, where he won the deciding points in both the semifinals and the finals. He starred again a few weeks later at the NCAA Championship, last season went 3-0 in SEC match play, and now has earned a reputation among his teammates as a primetime player.

“I’ve hit a lot of big shots and putts in my career,” said Augenstein, ranked 26th in the world after recently winning the Players Amateur. “I get locked in and focused, and there’s not a shot that I don’t think I can pull off. I’m not scared to fail.”

The comeback victory against Morikawa – a three-time winner last season at Cal and one of the best amateurs in the world – didn’t surprise Todd. He’s seen firsthand how explosive Augenstein can be on the course.

“He’s just fiery,” Todd said. “He does things under pressure that you’re not supposed to do. He’s just a special kid.”

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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.

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Playoff streaks in jeopardy for Garcia, Haas

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:12 pm

Since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007, only 13 players have managed to make the playoffs each and every year. But two of the PGA Tour's stalwarts head into the regular-season finale with work to do in order to remain a part of that select fraternity.

Sergio Garcia has rarely had to sweat the top-125 bubble, but the Spaniard enters this week's Wyndham Championship 131st in the current standings. Left with even more work to do is former FedExCup winner Bill Haas, who starts the week in Greensboro 150th.

Garcia got off to a strong start in the spring, sandwiching a pair of top-10 finishes in WGC events around a fourth-place showing at the Valspar Championship. But quality results largely dried up after Garcia missed the cut at the Masters; he has made only two cuts in 10 Tour starts since April, including early exits in all four majors.


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Garcia has some history at Sedgefield Country Club, having won this event in 2012 to break a lengthy U.S. victory drought. He also finished fourth in 2009 but hasn't played the Donald Ross layout since a T-29 finish as the defending champ in 2013.

It's been a difficult year for Haas both on and off the course, as the veteran was involved as a passenger in a car accident on the eve of the Genesis Open that killed the driver. He returned to action three weeks later in Tampa, and he tied for seventh at the RBC Heritage in April. But that remains his lone top-10 finish of the season. Haas has missed 11 cuts including three in a row.

While the bubble will be a fluid target this week at Sedgefield, Garcia likely needs at least a top-20 finish to move into the top 125 while Haas will likely need to finish inside the top 5.

One of the 13 playoff streaks is assured of ending next week, as Luke Donald has missed most of the year with a back injury. Other players to qualify for every Tour postseason include Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore.