Champion crowned tomorrow
Northfield, Ill. (August 3, 2018) – Davis Riley is getting used to being in the Western Amateur semifinals.
Riley, of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, won two matches in convincing fashion on Friday at Sunset Ridge Country Club to reach the semifinals for the second time in three years. The Alabama senior beat Min Woo Lee, of Perth, Australia, 4 and 3 in the round of 16 before taking down Hayden Springer, of Trophy Club, Texas, 5 and 3 in the quarterfinals.
Riley lost the par-4 first hole in each round Friday.
“I had to kick myself in gear because a player as good as Min Woo will take advantage of silly mistakes,” he said. “In the afternoon, I made another stupid bogey. But I got it together.”
A birdie at No. 7 gave Riley his first lead against Lee, the No. 4 player in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking. He later birdied four in a row on the second nine to go 4 up, closing out the match with a par on No. 15.
Against Springer in the afternoon, Riley grabbed the lead with a par at No. 3 and was 2 up at the turn. He birdied No. 10 and No. 13 before securing the win on the No. 15.
Riley will draw from his experience at the 2016 Western Amateur at Knollwood Club in Lake Forest, Illinois, when he tees it up in the semifinals at 8:12 a.m. Saturday against Tyler Strafaci, Davie, Florida.
"I was 2 up with six to play in the semis against Sam Horsfield at Knollwood, and I got a little shaky on the tee,” Riley said. “Maybe tomorrow I take a deep breath and slow it down when things aren’t going my way, or even if they are going my way.”
Strafaci beat Kaiwen Liu, of San Diego, California, 2 up in the quarterfinals after earning a 1-up victory over Isaac Merry, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, in the round of 16. Strafaci’s grandfather, Frank Strafaci, made match play at the Western Amateur in 1937, 1952 and 1953. He was the medalist in 1953.
Brandon Wu of Scarsdale, New York, completed a remarkable comeback in his 1-up win over John Augenstein, of Owensboro, Kentucky, in 19 holes on Friday afternoon. A senior at Stanford, Wu was 2 down as he stood on the 17th tee. He won that hole with a par, and he sunk a 12-foot putt for birdie on No. 18 to extend the match.
Wu won the match by making a birdie from four feet on the first extra hole. It was the first time he led during the match.
“No. 17 was a big momentum shift, but I was still 1 down, and I could lose on 18,” he said. “After I won 18, I definitely felt like I had all of the momentum.”
Wu beat Kyle Michel, of Shepparton, Australia, 6 and 5 in the round of 16 on Friday morning.
Co-medalist Cole Hammer, of Houston, needed 20 holes to defeat Davis Shore, of Knoxville, Tennessee, in the round of 16, before beating Spencer Ralston, of Gainesville, Georgia, 1 up in the quarterfinals.
Down two holes to Ralston through 13, Hammer won three in a row, capped by a birdie at No. 16 to go 1 up. He saved par from the back fringe on the 18th to win the match.
Hammer and Wu will meet in Saturday's opening semifinal match at 8 a.m.