Cal teammates Weaver, Hagy into U.S. Am semis
CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – Michael Weaver has long had an interest in the stock market. His father, Bill, remembers a 10-year-old Michael watching CNBC and inquiring about the symbols and numbers running across the bottom of the TV screen.
Michael Weaver sat out this past college season to pursue that passion, redshirting to prepare for admission to Cal’s Haas School of Business, one of the nation’s best. He’ll start his Haas studies this quarter, but he has some important business to take care of first.
He’s in the U.S. Amateur semifinals, joined by teammate Brandon Hagy, who also is starting his Haas studies soon. He redshirted the 2010-11 season to prepare for the school’s academic demands. The odds of two teammates among the final four players at the U.S. Amateur? Even an analytically-minded person such as Weaver would have trouble calculating that. The two Golden Bears could meet in Sunday’s final if they win their semifinal matches.
Their book smarts extend to the course, which may explain why they’ve made it this far on a 7,409-yard Cherry Hills layout that plays much shorter because of Colorado’s altitude. The course demands strategy, not strength, though both players are plenty strong. Hagy is among college golf’s longest hitters. “We all seem to be pretty tactical,” said Cal teammate Max Homa, who lost in the second round. “We’re a bunch of thinkers.”
Hagy beat Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan, 4 and 3, in the quarterfinals. Michael Weaver won by that same score over Central Florida’s Ricardo Gouveia.
Hagy and Weaver will face tough opponents in the semifinals. Weaver will play Alabama’s Justin Thomas, the 2012 Haskins Award winner as college golf’s player of the year. Hagy plays Chattanooga’s Steven Fox, who beat Washington’s Chris Williams, the world’s No. 1 amateur, Friday.
Two high-school teammates, Phil Mickelson and Manny Zerman, met in the final the last time the U.S. Amateur was held at Cherry Hills. Mickelson won, 5 and 4, in a meeting of University of San Diego High School alums.
Cal head coach Steve Desimone arrived in Colorado on Thursday evening and hobbled around Cherry Hills on a partially-torn right Achilles tendon to watch his two players advance to the Final Four. This year’s Cal team, which won the Pac-12 Championship and NCAA West Regional and advanced to the NCAA Championship’s semifinals, was a tight-knit bunch. “Everyone works hard and practices together,” Weaver said. “It’s not five individuals. It’s like a team feel.”
Desimone has seen his charges have success in this event before.
Byeong-Hun An already had committed to Cal when he won the 2009 U.S. Amateur during the summer before his senior year of high school. Cal’s Robert Hamilton was runner-up at the 2001 U.S. Amateur, losing to Bubba Dickerson in the final at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
Weaver has fought his way into the semifinals. He earned his match-play spot in a playoff, then scored two comeback victories Thursday. He was 3 down through 12 holes against Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers, a 2011 Walker Cup team member, but won five of the next six holes to win, 2 up. Weaver was 2 down with two holes remaining in his third-round match with Albin Choi, then won the next three holes to score a 19-hole victory.
Weaver never trailed in his quarterfinal match with Gouveia. “I played really well tee-to-green and really felt like I didn’t make any mistakes on the front, and that was key,” Weaver said. “I kind of got a little shaky after the turn, but fortunately I had the nice 4-up lead to kind of give me a cushion.”
Hagy had to make a comeback in Friday’s match with Pan, who beat Hagy earlier this year in a college match-play event. Hagy was 2 down after four holes, but won the fifth hole with a conceded eagle after hitting his 8-iron second shot on the par 5 to 20 feet. Hagy two-putted from 40 feet to win the next hole with par. Hagy had another eagle, on the par-5 11th, making a 40-footer to take a 3-up lead.
“It feels incredible,” Hagy said. “I actually started tearing up a little bit in my interview out there with Dottie Pepper, so I guess that kind of shows you what it means. I’ve been playing well, and it means the world. It validates all the hard work that I put in and all the practice.”
And to have a teammate accompany him this far? It’s made it even better.
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Justin Thomas def. Oliver Goss, 2 up
Michael Weaver def. Ricardo Gouveia, 4 and 3
Steven Fox def. Chris Williams, 4 and 2
Brandon Hagy def. Cheng-Tsung Pan, 4 and 3