Match observer Gerry Macdonald had to flip a coin just to see who was away on Riviera’s 17th fairway.
“That was so weird,” Humphrey said. “The official is like, All right, Theo, you’re ahead. Well, okay. It was kind of weird that I ended up going first, which I was kind of happy about with the opportunity to put pressure on him.”
Both players were 261 yards away on the 590-yard 17th, Humphrey 1 up in the match and just feet apart after 330-yard tee shots. A Fox Sports spotter determined their distances were identical but USGA protocol does not allow the referee or observer to rely on a rangefinder. So Macdonald pulled out a Hogan’s Alley branded coin he’d purchased this week to determine who was away, the first time he’d ever had to do so in his career USGA career.
The coin toss and ensuing matching birdies served as a fitting tribute to the intensity of a match that saw three lead changes and the affair at All Square six times.
Humphrey is using incredible power to attack Riviera, including a 345-yard tee shot at the 479-yard 12th into the afternoon sea breeze. Yet an old school approach to Riviera’s 10th will make Saturday’s semi-final against Doug Ghim worth watching during Fox’s 12-3 pm ET coverage.
Instead of driving the green 311-yards away, the 21-year-old Vanderbilt Senior-to-be is adamant about laying up down the fairway left side and hitting wedge into the tiny green no matter the hole location or state of his match.
“There is nowhere around that green that’s really any good,” he said. “I’ve laid up every day just try to hit it as far left as I can close to that bunker and have between 60 and 80 yards depending on the pin.”
He added of his opponents: “People I have played against have all gone for that green. “[Chun An] today made par, but, I mean, everybody else, like I’ve seen perfect tee shots and guys are struggling to make bogey. I just don’t think it’s a very intelligent shot.”
In his duel with Yu, Humphrey placed his iron more to the right than planned, setting up a wedge shot that had to be hit a perfect distance or else end up in one of the surrounding green side bunkers. The perfect execution and 10 foot-putt made brought the match to All Square and reaffirmed that Humphrey’s old soul approach was just the way to attack one of golf’s great strategic holes.