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Best U.S. Am champ since ’98? Our picks . . .

Who was the best U.S. Amateur champion from the past 16 years?

Taking every winner since 1998 and putting them in a 16-player match-play bracket, Golfweek staffers Cassie Stein and Brentley Romine will attempt to settle the argument by telling us who they think would be the last champion standing.

• • •

First, let’s look at the players and how they’ll be seeded:

  1. Peter Uihlein (2010)
  2. Ryan Moore (2004)
  3. Hank Kuehne (1998)
  4. Colt Knost (2007)
  5. Ricky Barnes (2002)
  6. Edoardo Molinari (2005)
  7. Kelly Kraft (2011)
  8. Richie Ramsay (2006)
  9. Bubba Dickerson (2001)
  10. Nick Flanagan (2003)
  11. David Gossett (1999)
  12. Jeff Quinney (2000)
  13. Danny Lee (2008)
  14. Byeong-Hun An (2009)
  15. Matthew Fitzpatrick (2013)
  16. Steven Fox (2012)

• • •

CASSIE’S BRACKET

ROUND OF 16

  • Uihlein def. Fox
  • Moore def. Fitzpatrick
  • An def. Kuehne
  • Knost def. Lee
  • Barnes def. Quinney
  • Molinari def. Gossett
  • Flanagan def. Kraft
  • Ramsay def. Dickerson

I picked An in an upset over Kuehne because he is the youngest champion in Amateur history and he won by going through some big-name players to do it. He also came back the following year and advanced to the semifinals. I also went with Flanagan over Kraft, although Kraft went through some of the then top-ranked amateurs of the world to win his title. Flanagan became the first Aussie to win the title in 100 years and in extra holes no less against Casey Wittenberg, who had a terrific summer by winning the Terra Cotta, Southern Am and the Porter Cup.

• • •

QUARTERFINALS

  • Uihlein def. Ramsay
  • Moore def. Flanagan
  • An def. Molinari
  • Knost def. Barnes

Ramsey’s run in 2006 was impressive beating Rickie Fowler in the semifinals and Webb Simpson in the finals to win his championship, but Uihlein’s play during his championship run was extremely impressive. Moore defeats Flanagan because he was on an improbable run during 2004. An over Molinari because Molinari never ran away with his matches during his 2005 title run until the semifinals. An would have the edge. In the battle former No. 1’s, I think I go with Knost because just like Moore, his summer was spectacular.

• • •

SEMIFINALS

  • Uihlein def. Knost
  • An def. Moore

Well known in the amateur golf world, this could have been a match up people would have liked to see. A good match of long hitters, but Uihlein would win as he showed at Chambers Bay, he can defeat anyone on any given day. Like I said, Moore’s ’04 summer was great – probably one of the best in recent memory – but something about An and his ability to get it done when needed would suit him well here.

• • •

FINAL

  • Uihlein def. An, 1 up

This matchup never happened as An was on the other side of the bracket during Uihlein’s championship run. As the defending champion, An couldn’t get through David Chung, who was also have an impressive summer. But Uihlein’s ability to take down Cheng-Tsung Pan, Morgan Hoffmann, Patrick Cantlay and Chung – to name a few – is top-notch amateur golf right there making him the last champion standing over the last 16 years.

• • •

BRENTLEY’S BRACKET

ROUND OF 16

  • Uihlein def. Fox
  • Moore def. Fitzpatrick
  • Kuehne def. An
  • Knost def. Lee
  • Barnes def. Quinney
  • Gossett def. Molinari
  • Kraft def. Flanagan
  • Dickerson def. Ramsay

I have Peter Uihlein and Ryan Moore, both well-decorated players as amateurs, moving on. Kuehne, a five-time PGA Tour winner, was a tough choice over An, who advanced to the semifinals a year after winning in 2009. Knost gets the slight edge over Lee in a battle of former top-ranked amateurs. I went with an upset by taking Gossett, a former star at Texas, over Molinari. Dickerson, who had quite the run in 2001 winning an NCAA title with Florida, the Western Amateur and U.S. Amateur, gets the nod over Ramsay.

• • •

QUARTERFINALS

  • Uihlein def. Dickerson
  • Moore def. Kraft
  • Gossett def. Kuehne
  • Knost def. Barnes

Dickerson’s 2001 was impressive, but I still think Uihlein wins. Moore, winner of two USGA titles, gets my vote over Kraft. Gossett, who posted a 9-and-8 win in the 1999 U.S. Am final, wins a close one over Kuehne, the low amateur at the 1999 U.S. Open. Knost rounds out my semifinals because he has two USGA titles, was a former top-ranked amateur in the world and had a nice collegiate career at SMU.

• • •

SEMIFINALS

  • Uihlein def. Knost
  • Moore def. Gossett

Uihlein gets the slight edge over Knost thanks to his 4-0 performance at the 2009 Walker Cup. Sure, Gossett won his title in a rout, but Moore is the only one of these 16 players to also be the stroke-play medalist in the same year that he won.

• • •

FINAL

  • Uihlein def. Moore, 2 and 1

Tough decision here, but I’ll go with Uihlein. Cheng-Tsung Pan, Emiliano Grillo, John Hahn, Morgan Hoffmann, Patrick Cantlay and David Chung – that’s an impressive list of players, all of which Uihlein defeated on his way to winning in 2010.

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