Western Amateur: Sweet 16 set for Friday

The Sweet Sixteen of the 2014 Western Amateur Championship.

CHICAGO – Welcome to the Sweet Sixteen at the 112th Western Amateur Championship, gentlemen.

The Round of 16 is set for 7:30 a.m. Friday at The Beverly Country Club, while the quarterfinals will take place in the afternoon.

“Match play is a game of circumstance,” said Doug Ghim, who finished as the No. 1 seed heading into match play. “The hole is never over until it’s over.”

That is true, especially at the 7,016-yard course where 3-foot putts are not going to be given – anywhere. They will have to be earned.

A few notes for thought:

• The Texas Longhorns and Illinois Fighting Illini each had three players advance to match play. Texas: Doug Ghim, Beau Hossler and Scottie Scheffler. Illinois: Nick Hardy, Charlie Danielson and Brian Campbell.

• Four Australians advanced to the Sweet Sixteen – Geoff Drakeford, Taylor Macdonald, Cory Crawford and Lucas Herbert. (The latter two will face off against each other in the first round).

• The par-3 17th – the second-hardest hole on the golf course over 72 holes of stroke play – will play as a pivotal hole coming down the stretch in most any match. It played to a stroke average of 3.35.

Here are the matchups, tee times and predictions for the Round of 16:

7:30 a.m.: Doug Ghim vs. Matt Hansen

Prediction: Ghim. The runner-up at the U.S. Public Links is just playing lights out golf right now. I’ll take Ghim over pretty much anyone in match play.

7:45 a.m.: Cheng-Tsung Pan vs. Beau Hossler

Prediction: Hossler. I picked him from the beginning of the week, so why stop now? Pan, a five-time match play participant at the Western Amateur, will give Hossler a run for his money, but will fall in the Round of 16 for the fifth time.

8:00 a.m.: Taylor Macdonald vs. Scottie Scheffler

Prediction: Scheffler. Tough call as Macdonald really turned on his game Thursday, but I’ll go with the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur champion as the winner in this match.

8:15 a.m.: Geoff Drakeford vs. Nick Hardy

Prediction: Drakeford. Yes, his run of good golf must to come to an end soon, but why start now? He can scramble well, as he showed that off in the second and third round of stroke play, and everyone needs to scramble if you’re going to advance in match play.

8:30 a.m.: Joshua Munn vs. Brian Campbell

Prediction: Campbell. This one is the battle of the little guys (Munn is 5-foot-7, Campbell is 5-9), but each have big games. Campbell will need to get up early on the 23-year-old because Munn is scrappy and will try to mount a comeback.

8:45 a.m.: Cory Crawford vs. Lucas Herbert

Prediction: Crawford. He played himself into match play after rounds of 67-68 Thursday. The two Aussies I’m sure are good friends and know each other’s games both being on the Australian National Team.

9:00 a.m.: Bryson Dechambeau vs. Xander Schauffele

Prediction: Dechambeau. A quarterfinalist at the U.S. Public Links Amateur, Dechambeau can take down anyone at anytime. He has done it before and will do it again. Schauffele had to birdie two of his final three holes just to get into match play.

9:15 a.m.: Hunter Stewart vs. Charlie Danielson

Prediction: Stewart. The rising senior at Vanderbilt hasn’t played in a match-play tournament since September – but two good rounds Thursday should help his confidence moving forward.

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