HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. – It will be the Pac-12 against the Big 12 – a matchup between a pair of all-conference and All-American players.
It will be Chris Williams, a senior at Washington, against Jordan Russell, a recent Texas A&M graduate, in the 18-hole championship final Saturday afternoon in the 110th Western Amateur at Exmoor Country Club.
The two made their way to the title showdown Saturday morning, both in thrilling, extra hole, fashion.
Williams, a first team All-America last season and member to the 2011 U.S. Walker Cup team, defeated Oklahoma senior Abraham Ancer in 19 holes.
Russell, a 2011 second-team All-America, battled his way past three-time Ivy League player of the year and champion Peter Williamson, who just graduated from Dartmouth, in 20 holes.
Williams, the 72-hole stroke-play qualifying medalist for the second consecutive year — both times in tournament record-setting fashion, clinched the match when he was conceded an eagle 3 on the par 5, first hole, after Ancer made a bogey.
Both players battled back and forth from start to finish. Ancer went 1-up with a birdie at the opening hole, but Williams answered with a birdie at No. 7. Ancer birdied 8 and Williams 9 leaving it all-square at the turn.
A birdie by Ancer at 10 and one by Williams at 11 kept it that way, before Williams took his first lead with a par at 12. Ancer came back with a birdie at 16 and the two made par on the next two holes.
The Russell-Williamson match was much the same.
Russell went on top with a par at the sixth hole, but Williamson won the ninth with a par. Williamson went 1-up with a par at 12, only to have Russell come right back and win 13 with a birdie.
Williamson moved in front with a birdie at 14, but once again Russell quickly squared things with a birdie at 15.
The two halved the next three holes with pars — Williamson doing so from the left greenside bunker at 18 — before Russell closed things out.
At the 20th hole, Russell, from the left rough, hit his approach shot to four feet. Williamson, from the fairway, came up just short of the green. After Williamson lipped out his birdie chip, Russell sank his putt to end it.
“It was a tough match and it was just a matter of time before someone made a birdie (to win),” Williamson said.
For Williamson, it was a tough day physically. A long-standing right knee injury kicked in when he woke up in the morning and as the match went on and on he limped slower and slower.
“I don’t know if I just slept on it (knee) the wrong way or what,” he said. “It’s just something that has bothered me off and on for a while. Unfortunately it got weak today.
“But I played solid and give Jordan a ton of credit, he really played some great golf out there,” Williamson said. “He earned the victory.”
Williamson said he plans to give his knee a good rest and “get ready for Cherry Hills,” referring to his next start Aug. 13 at the U.S. Amateur Championship in Denver.