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U.S. Amateur Semifinals Feature Four Non-U.S. Players

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For the first time in U.S. Amateur history, the 2013 tournament semifinals feature four players with foreign nationalities.

Oliver Goss and Brady Watt, two Australian golfers, will meet in one semifinal. In the other, Corey Conners of Canada will battle Matt Fitzpatrick of England. On the line are berths into two of golf’s most important championships, the Masters and U.S. Open.

It is ironic that this year’s championship was awarded to The Country Club in Brookline (near Boston), Mass., to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the golfing triumph that shocked the world of 1913. Francis Ouimet, caddie and local amateur, stunned Ted Ray and Harry Vardon in a playoff to win the U.S. Open that year. History reversed itself in 2013, as four players from outside the U.S. traversed the minefield of match play to reach the penultimate matches.

Brady Watt should be no surprise to any amateur golf aficionado. The antipodean is currently ranked No. 1 in the Scratch Players world list and No. 9 in the Royal and Ancient valuation. Watt defeated three Americans (Sean Walsh, Seth Reeves and U.S. Junior champion Scottie Scheffler) and one Canadian (Charlie Hughes) to reach the semifinal. Watt was co-medalist of on-site qualifying and saw the 18th hole for the first time in match play in his quarterfinal contest with Scheffler.

Countryman Oliver Goss is ranked 15th on the Scratch Players list and 13th on the R&A ranking. He tied for third in the stroke-play portion of the Amateur and won both the Western Australia Amateur and Open championships in 2013. Unlike Watt, Goss competes for an American university (University of Tennessee) in the NCAA.

Representing Europe in the semifinal bracket is Matt Fitzpatrick. The Englishman is ranked 31st in the SP and second in the R&A lists (don’t ask us to explain the discrepancy!). Fitzpatrick tied with Goss for third in qualifying, made the cut last month in the British Open at Muirfield (where he finished as low amateur) and likely clinched a spot on the Great Britain & Ireland side for this year’s Walker Cup at National Golf Links of America in September.

Corey Conners, of Ontario, Canada, is the lone North American representative in the tournament. He will match up with Fitzpatrick for a spot in Sunday’s 36-hole final. Conners holds a ranking of 19th in the SP hierarchy and 39 on the R&A array. Conners tied for second at the 2013 Canadian amateur, tied for third at the 2013 Monroe Invitational and competed for Kent State University in the NCAAs for the third consecutive year.

The Country Club has proven itself a wonderful host to the premier amateur event. In 2013, the event was made all the more prestigious by the presence of three open spots on the U.S. side for the Walker Cup matches. Two spots will go to mid amateurs (none of whom made match play), leaving a trio of places to anyone able to prove himself in match play. American favorites dropped in fistfuls during the first two rounds. Exiting match play in the opening round were Sean Dale, Michael Weaver, Jim Liu, Bo Andrews and Jordan Niebrugge, the 2013 Public Links and Western champion. Round Two brought the departure of Bobby Wyatt, Brandon Hagy, Chase Koepka, Zac Blair and Seth Reeves. The list thinned further after the third round, when Patrick Rodgers, Chelso Barrett and Gavin Hall cleaned out their lockers.

The trio of U.S. players that reached the quarterfinals ran into a pair of buzz saws in Fitzpatrick (a 4 & 3 winner over Adam Ball of Richmond, Va.) and Goss (a 5 & 3 victor over Brandon Matthews of Dupont, Pa.) U.S. Junior champion Scheffler (of Dallas) held his own against the tournament’s top seed (Watt), taking a two-up lead as late as the No. 12 before succumbing. To his credit, Watt played the closing sextet of holes in even-par to steal the match from the young Texan.

In the Valhalla of golfing gods, Francis Ouimet occupies a special place. The lifelong amateur, twice winner of this national championship (1914 and 1931), doubtless looks down on the events of this week and smiles at the thought of four upstart players from this vast globe, at odds in the semifinals of a national championship, on a course across the street from his boyhood home.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Ronald Montesano

    Aug 17, 2013 at 7:22 am

    That was my doing. I couldn’t come up with a suitable adjective (didn’t want to say “international”). Thanks for the catch, Stephen and thanks for reading.

  2. Stephen Boyd

    Aug 16, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Good article, to bad about the Headline that they attached. Canada is not overseas.

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