Langley tops Reed in epic U.S. Am match
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – They peeked and poked and prodded, some 50 spectators searching for Patrick Reed’s ball in the knee-high fescue right of the first fairway at Chambers Bay. When finally the ball was located, Reed could only chop out and advance the ball a few yards. Still in the deep stuff.
As Reed struggled to navigate his way down the steep, sandy dune, Scott Langley launched a long iron into a strengthening wind, yelling, “Come on!” as he chased the ball down the fairway.
U.S. Amateur (Rds. of 32, 16)
As temperatures dropped and the wind picked up, the Rounds of 32 and 16 created a lot of excitement at Chambers Bay.
Just like that, two hours of captivating back-nine rallies fizzled with one errant drive. And in a matchup of 2010 NCAA champions, Langley defeated Reed in 19 holes Thursday to advance to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur.
“There’s a very fine line between me winning and him winning,” said Langley, the reigning NCAA individual champion from Illinois. “I just tried to keep plugging away and putting pressure on him."
After battling back to square the match, Reed was undone by his drive on the first extra hole. Reed pushed his tee shot right into the fescue, same as when he played the hole in the morning, and needed a pack of spectators to take nearly 4 minutes to find the ball. “I could barely see it,” said Reed, a junior at Augusta State who helped the Jaguars win the national team title in June. “The only reason I could find it was because I nearly stepped on it.”
He choked down on a lob wedge and took a mighty slash, but the ball trickled down the hill and came to rest in the tall, wispy grass. He tried again, sending the ball across the fairway, and his fourth shot collected well left of the green, some 60 feet below the level of the putting surface.
Reed needed two more shots just to reach the green, and with Langley facing a 40-foot putt for birdie, Reed conceded the hole.
“It’s disappointing because I felt like I played real well this week,” said Reed, 19, of Augusta, Ga.
Not to be forgotten, however, was the play of both players on the back nine.
Helped by a steady breeze off Puget Sound, and looking to pad his 1-up lead, Reed rifled a 3-wood into the reachable par-4 12th. Proper acknowledgment came not from a boisterous cheer in the gallery, but rather from Langley, who turned back, nodded and clapped twice. Eight feet on the 304-yard hole? Bravo, indeed.
Reed proceeded to lose the next three holes, however, to trail for the first time in the match. He won the par-4 16th and squared the match after driving just left of the green, sailing his flop shot into the bunker and splashing out for an unlikely birdie.
Langley regained the lead again at the par-3 17th, where Reed’s tee shot came up nearly 40 yards short, in the bunker, and Langley curled in a 7-footer for par.
Langley made an uncharacteristic mistake at the par-5 finishing hole, however, mis-hitting his driver so badly that he failed to clear the fairway bunker that bisects the fairway. Reed reached the green and two-putted for birdie, sending the match into extra holes.
It was a disappointing early exit for Reed. Before the U.S. Amateur, he had finished no worse than seventh in his past four amateur starts.
“I mean, I shouldn’t have even been in that situation in the first place,” Reed said. “I let him back in the match. ... Against Scott, that will hurt you. I didn’t close things out the way I should have.”
Langley advanced to play Ryan McCarthy in the afternoon. McCarthy defeated Brent Martin, 3 and 2, in the Round of 32.
“My putting was pretty miserable this morning, but I think my ballstriking held me up and gave me some easy pars,” Langley said. “So if you do that enough, it puts a lot of pressure on the other guy to keep up, and on a course like this, it’s tough.”