Wyatt ties U.S. Am record to take medalist honor

Bobby Wyatt

Bobby Wyatt

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. - Bobby Wyatt tied the 36-hole U.S. Amateur medalist qualifying record after a second-round 2-under 68 at CommonGround Golf Course on Tuesday and will carry the No. 1 seed into Wednesday’s start of match play in the 112th U.S. Amateur Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club.

Wyatt, 20, an Alabama junior from Mobile, finished with a 9-under 132 total, equaling the score posted by Gregor Main in 2011 and Hank Kim in 1994.

That was two strokes better than Cheng-Tsung Pan, a sophomore at Washington, and Jeff Osberg, 28, of West Chester, Pa. Both followed opening 69s at Cherry Hills with 65s at CommonGround to stand at 7-under 134.

Another shot back at 135 is Mexico’s Sebastian Vazquez, while BYU senior Zac Blair is in at 136 and California junior Brandon Hagy shot 137.

The low 64 scorers advance to the match-play portion of the championship, which begins Wednesday and runs through to Sunday’s 36-hole championship final. All matches will be played at Cherry Hills and all, except for the final, are 18 holes.

Seventeen players tied for the 51st position at 2-over 143 and will return to the Cherry Hills course Wednesday to play for the final 14 match-play spots beginning at 7 a.m.

Following up on his opening 7-under 64 at Cherry Hills, Wyatt birdied holes 7, 9 and 18, with a lone bogey coming on the 12th.

“I was pretty confident I was going to make match play, so it was a good day for me,” said Wyatt, who earlier this summer won the Sunnehanna Amateur and finished second at the Players Amateur and the Southern Amateur, where he lost in a playoff. “I played patient golf out there today. I missed a few putts, but I hit it really well.”

On being medalist in record-setting fashion, Wyatt said, “It’s very humbling to have part of that record. They change courses every year, and there have been a lot of courses that par is higher than 70, 71. But it’s an honor.

“There have been some great names to play in this championship, and to do that (medalist) certainly means a lot to me,” Wyatt said. “But I still have a lot of work to do this week.”

Pan, originally from Taiwan, recorded eight birdies in his second round against three bogeys.

Starting on the back nine, Pan shot a 4-under 30 to start. He birdied Nos. 10 and 11, bogeyed 12, birdied 13, 15 and 16, bogeyed 17, then birdied 18. Over his final nine, he made bogey at No. 5, but birdied Nos. 7 and 9.

“I’m hitting the ball great, driving well,” said Pan, who was qualifying medalist at the Western Amateur in 2009 and 2010. “I’m hitting my irons well and executing my shots well. I had a lot of birdie chances that I could really feel the speed right. I was trying to focus on every shot, trying to make as many birdies as I can.”

Pan was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection and a second-team All-American as a freshman last season, while being a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award. This summer he tied for seventh at the Sahalee Players Championship and advanced to the Round of 16 at the Western Amateur, losing on the 20th hole in his first-round match against Abraham Ancer.

“I feel good about these two rounds," said Pan, 20, a quarterfinalist at the 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur at age 15. “It gives me confidence going into match play. My goal is to win the tournament. Highest seeds always seem to have an advantage.”

Doug Hanzel, a 55-year-old doctor from Savannah, Ga., shot a 3-under 68 at Cherry Hills and became what is believed to be the oldest player to qualify for match play since the U.S. Am went to its current format of 36-hole on-site qualifying in 1979. He is in with even-par 141, tied for 25th. Hanzel gained his spot in the starting field of this year’s U.S. Am when he was low amateur at the U.S. Senior Open.

“This is my 16th (career) USGA event that I’ve qualified for, and I’m going to play in the (U.S.) Mid-Am in September and then the (U.S.) Senior Am. So it’s been a good year,” Hanzel said.

On his success so far this year, Hanzel said, “I’ve played some good golf because there’s a lot of good players out here when you get into a USGA event, a U.S. Amateur. You’ve got the world's best, not just the United States’ best. The Senior Open, you’ve got the same thing: the world’s best seniors. So it shows I’ve played well.”

The Golden Bear - that being golfing great Jack Nicklaus - won’t be around in the gallery come Wednesday as his son Gary, 43, shot 4-over 145 and failed to qualify for match play.

However, there will be plenty of Golden Bears on the course Wednesday as four of the five players from the University of California are still standing. Junior Brandon Hagy, senior Max Homa and sophomore Michael Kim are in the match-play bracket while senior Michael Weaver is one of 17 players in a playoff to determine the final 14 spots in the 64-player field.

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