What's up, Doc? Redman advances to U.S. Amateur semifinals

USGA

What's up, Doc? Redman advances to U.S. Amateur semifinals

Amateur

What's up, Doc? Redman advances to U.S. Amateur semifinals

LOS ANGELES – Doc Redman’s first taste of USGA match play came at the 2014 U.S. Junior Amateur in The Woodlands, Texas. The bucket hat-wearing 16-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., beat future college All-Americans Justin Suh and Braden Thornberry before facing Andy Zhang in the Round of 16.

Redman had just committed to Clemson, but he was unknown and unproven compared to Zhang, who was just two years removed from becoming the youngest to qualify for a U.S. Open.

“Andy, he’s a great player now, and back then he was amazing,” Redman said. “I think he was kind of an otherworldly figure in junior golf. I remember he had all these college coaches out there watching him, the best ones you can imagine. I’m out there and I just committed to Clemson. I wasn’t a big name. I went out there and hung tough with him for 18 holes, and he got me on the last one.”

Redman lost to Zhang, 1 up, that day. But from that point, he knew he belonged.

Three years later Redman, now 19, finds himself back in match play at a USGA Championship. This time, though, it’s the U.S. Amateur at historic Riviera Country Club, and Redman has gone much deeper, beating Australian Travis Smyth, 1 up, in the quarterfinals.

He’s shed the bucket hat, too, but the self-belief he gained from that 2014 championship at The Club at Carlton Woods remains – and for good reason.

Redman set a Clemson freshman record with eight top 10s last season. This summer, he tied for sixth at the Northeast Amateur, shared 10th at the Southern Amateur and was runner-up to Norman Xiong at the Western Amateur.

His stellar play has made his pre-summer goal of making the Walker Cup team more of a reality.

“It’s one of the things I always think about,” Redman said. “I’m just trying to play the best I can, and hopefully Spider (Miller) and the committee, whoever that is, thinks I deserve it. At the end of the day I’ve done the best I can. It’s out of my control now.”

It also has kept him away from Old Chatham Golf Club in Durham, N.C., where Redman has caddied during the past three summers. (Redman said he’d likely be caddying Friday if he wasn’t at Riviera.)

That’s where he met Dean Emerson, a member at the course. Redman wasn’t the first talented amateur golfer to have caddied for Emerson. Grayson Murray, now a PGA Tour winner, looped for Emerson back in the day.

“I saw Grayson’s talent; he’s won on the Tour now,” Emerson said, “and when I started playing with Doc then it hit me that this kid’s pretty good, too.”

Now, it’s Emerson carrying Redman’s bag. Emerson’s first time caddying for Redman in a tournament was at the Northeast Amateur in June; Redman tied for sixth there. And when Clemson assistant Jordan Byrd couldn’t make the trip to Riviera, Emerson was next on the list.

“What an awesome experience,” Emerson said.

And one that will continue into the weekend in beautiful Los Angeles.

Redman will face Mark Lawrence Jr. in Saturday’s semifinal match, which begins at 8:20 a.m. local time. The winner will face either Doug Ghim or Theo Humphrey, who tee off at 8 a.m.

On the line for Saturday’s winners: a three-year exemption into the U.S. Amateur, a spot in the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and a likely invitation to the 2018 Masters.

“I’m going to try not to look at it that way; it’s just another match, don’t make it anything more than it is,” Redman said.

Redman is confident in his ability to block out distractions and rely on his golf game. He’s not scared of the big moments; he hasn’t been for a long time.

“You know what impresses me the most? He has ice water in his veins,” Emerson said. “He’s just calm, cool and collected.”

Like when Redman was 2 down with six holes to play. He has just lost two straight holes, including the par-4 10th hole where he made bogey.

“We lost him for a minute there,” Emerson said. “He was in his own little world just trying to bring himself back to the moment.”

It didn’t take long. Redman won three straight holes, Nos. 13-15, and after Smyth birdied the 17th to square the match, Redman made a clutch par at the par-4 closing hole to book his place in the semifinals.

“I think we were both just trying to reassure myself that I was playing well and that good shots were going to come,” Redman said.

Redman hopes they continue to come this weekend at Riviera.

 

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