Norman Xiong medals at Western Amateur; 4-for-3 playoff awaits for final match-play spots

WGA/Charles Cherney

Norman Xiong medals at Western Amateur; 4-for-3 playoff awaits for final match-play spots

Amateur

Norman Xiong medals at Western Amateur; 4-for-3 playoff awaits for final match-play spots

Scores

• • •

A stunning 36-hole surge put Norman Xiong in a prestigious club.

Xiong fired scores of 66 and 65 in the final rounds of stroke play Thursday at the Western Amateur to storm from a tie for 29th to medalist honors. A 14-under 270 total earned him the distinction by a single shot after starting the day nine back of Ruben Sondjaja.

Xiong, of Canyon Lake, Calif., now is among a distinguished list of Western Amateur medalists – a group that includes Bobby Jones, Phil Mickelson and Ben Crenshaw.

“I can’t believe it,” said Xiong, an incoming sophomore at Oregon. “I didn’t expect this being so far back to start the day. My main goal was to get into match play. If I put together two solid rounds, I knew I had a chance at the top five, but I didn’t expect to win.”

Now Xiong is onto the match-play portion, which will commence Friday – after stroke play fully concludes.

The final two rounds of stroke play faced more than 2 hours of suspension Thursday via two separate weather delays. Every player got in his 72 holes of stroke-play qualifying, but four finished tied for 14th at 8 under and only 16 can make it to match play.

That meant a 4-for-3 playoff for the final match-play spots. But with darkness already present, the playoff was postponed until 8 a.m. Eastern on Friday.

The four players fighting for those three spots early Friday morning will include 2015 Western Amateur winner Dawson Armstrong, World Amateur No. 1 Joaquin Niemann, 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Min Woo Lee and 2017 NCAA Championship runner-up Mason Overstreet.

Xiong of course has earned the No. 1 seed for match play and he does so with no shortage of pedigree. The California kid is coming off a freshman season at Oregon that saw him earn the Phil Michelson Award for top newcomer in men’s college golf despite the fact that he only joined the team in the spring (Xiong came to school a semester early).

Xiong had a win and six other top 10s in 10 spring starts for the Ducks.

He actually began the week with a 1-over 72 but righted the ship with two eagles on his way to a second-round 67. Hot starts catapulted him in the final two rounds of stroke play, as Xiong birdied four of his first five in Round 3 and his first four in the final stroke-play round.

Brad Dalke (second, 13 under), Nick Hardy (T-3, 11 under), Sondjaja (T-3, 11 under), John Pak (T-6, 10 under), Cameron Champ (T-9, 9 under) and Derek Bard (T-9, 9 under) were among those to advance to match play.

Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa both finished T-23 at 4 under to miss the match-play cut. Doug Ghim, a former Western Amateur medalist who recently won the Pacific Coast Amateur, also fell short in a tie for 35th at 1 under.

Here is the full match-play bracket to date, with those three spots from the playoff to be decided Friday morning:

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