English dashes Yun's Walker Cup hopes at Am

Harris English

Harris English

ERIN, Wis. – Coming into this week’s U.S. Amateur Championship at Erin Hills, Harris English already had his ticket stamped for a trip to Scotland next month as a member of the U.S. Walker Cup team. He was one of the first four players named to this year’s squad.

Andrew Yun, on the other hand, came into the event as one of many players hoping for one of the final three selections that would complete America’s 10-man team.

He knew it would take a good showing this week to keep those hopes alive. And when Yun drew English for his first-round match, he knew a victory would probably have made a big impression with USGA selectors.

But those hopes were dashed as English, a recent Georgia graduate, defeated Yun, a junior at Stanford, 3 and 1, to advance to the second round.

“He beat me fair and square,” said Yun, who was 4 under in the match. “That was one of the best matches I’ve ever played.”

Still, he knew his chances for a Walker Cup spot were fading.

“I’m probably on the outside looking in,” Yun said. “There are so many good American guys, and I think I probably had to at least reach the quarterfinals to go one up on them.”

Yun, a first-team All-American last season, appeared to be in control early, standing 2 up after five holes. English won No. 7 with a birdie, but Yun responded with a winning birdie at the eighth.

Then it was English – winner of this summer's Southern Amateur and the Nationwide Tour’s Children’s Hospital Classic – who took over. English won holes 9, 10 and 11 with birdie to go 1 up, then No. 15 with a birdie. He closed out the match with a winning par at the 17th.

Only a handful of the 32 scheduled first-round matches were completed Wednesday after stroke-play qualifying was turned upside down by a 3-hour, 40-minute weather delay on Tuesday and a 2-hour, 25-minute fog delay Wednesday morning at Erin Hills.

Stroke play wasn’t completed until early afternoon.

If things had gone according to plan, the first match would have begun at 8 a.m. Wednesday and the last at 1:10 p.m. Instead, the first match went out at 3 p.m. and the last was scheduled for 7:51 p.m. Play officially was stopped at 7:30 p.m., but players were allowed to finish the hole they had started if both agreed to do so.

Players not finishing - or starting, for that matter - their opening-round match will return to the course and pick up where they left off beginning at 7:15 a.m. Thursday. This will be followed by the Round of 32 and the Sweet 16, which will carry over into Friday, when the quarterfinals also are scheduled.

Among the other five matches that were completed, defending champion Peter Uihlein turned back Eugene Wong, 3 and 1; 2010 NCAA winner Scott Langley downed Donad Constable, 3 and 2; Bryson Dechambeau defeated Will McCurdy, 3 and 2; Jordan Russell won the 18th hole with a bogey to beat Zahkai Brown, 1 up, and Dylan Frittelli rolled past Jim Markovitz, 5 and 4.

Uihlein never trailed in his match. After being 1 up at the turn, he won Nos. 10, 11 and 13 for a 4-up lead. Wong, who was the Nicklaus Award winner as college golf’s player of the year in 2010 at Oregon, came back and won 15 with a birdie and 16 with a par. Uihlein ended the match with a par on the 17th.

“I was able to get on top early and then played solid the rest of the way,” said Uihlein, who will play in his second Walker Cup this year. “It’s nice to get the first match out of the way, especially finishing today so I don’t have to get up early and come back out at the crack of dawn. I get to sleep in a little, which will be nice.”

Langley has been in something of a slump all summer, but seems to be coming out of it. He closed stroke play with a 7-under 63 at Blue Mound in addition to advancing to the Round of 32.

After Constable won the opening hole with a birdie, Langley won the second with a par, the fifth with a birdie and the sixth with a par to go 2 up. Another birdie at the 12th provided the winning cushion.

“Golf is such a big game of confidence, and this summer I wasn’t playing with any,” Langley said. “I feel I’m getting that confidence back. I have a good mindset now. I feel like I’m almost there.”

Langley had to play eight holes in the morning to complete his 63.

“I didn’t sleep very well last night, so right now I’m really tired,” he said. “But I’m definitely glad to get this first match under my belt, and I’m ready to move on.”

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