Vogel makes semifinals at U.S. Amateur Public Links

T.J. Vogel

T.J. Vogel

MIDWAY, Utah – T.J. Vogel fought his way to another victory at the U.S. Amateur Public Links. Two down at the turn, Vogel beat good friend Alberto Sanchez, 1 up, in Friday morning’s quarterfinals.

Vogel, a Florida senior, completed the victory by laying up on the 302-yard, par-4 18th hole and wedging to inches. It was his third birdie of a bogey-free back nine. Three of Vogel’s four match-play victories this week have gone to the 18th hole.

“I was struggling with pull-draws, but the good thing is I was able to rebound. I hit great chips. My chipping was fabulous today,” Vogel said. “I think it’s real good to be tested. It makes you stronger. I’ve been tested my entire time here. It gives me confidence that I’m able to pull through at the end.”

Vogel, No. 9 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings this past season, will face UNLV All-American Derek Ernst in the semifinals. Ernst, a member of this year’s Palmer Cup team, was the runner-up at last year’s Publinks. North Florida All-American Kevin Aylwin will face Minnesota’s Kyle Beversdorf in the other semifinal match.

The semifinal matches will be played Friday afternoon. The two winners will compete in a 36-hole match Saturday to determine the champion. Among the perks that come with victory are an expected invitation to the Masters.

Vogel transferred to Florida before this past college season. One of the biggest benefits of that move was short-game guidance from Gators coach Buddy Alexander, a former U.S. Amateur champion. The fruits of that work showed Friday morning. Vogel got up-and-down with a difficult flop shot from behind the ninth green to stay 2-down entering the back nine. He saved par and halved the hole with a difficult chip shot on the par-4 11th, then squared the match by nearly holing a chip shot on the par-5 16th.

He had just a 5-iron second shot to that 589-yard hole. His shot ran through the green, but his chip nearly went in and stopped inches from the hole. Vogel won the par-3 17th hole by hitting 7-iron on the green and two-putting from 30 feet for par. Sanchez made bogey from short of the green. It was the match’s only bogey.

Sanchez, an incoming Arizona State freshman, made a 60-foot birdie putt on the par-3 seventh hole, then got up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 eighth to build a 2-up lead. Vogel won No. 10 by hitting his wedge approach shot to 1 foot on the par-4 10th.

Beversdorf was 3 up through 12 against West Florida’s Carlos Rodriguez, but lost Nos. 13-15 to square the match. Beversdorf hit his tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 15th. He won the 17th, though, with a 7-foot par putt and holed a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to close the match.

Aylwin was a 3-and-2 winner over Texas’ Paul McConnell in the quarterfinals. Ernst beat Central Florida’s Brad Schneider, 4 and 3, in the other quarterfinal match.

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