Cole Hammer battles through series of close matches to win Western Amateur

Courtesy of Western Golf Association

Cole Hammer battles through series of close matches to win Western Amateur

Amateur

Cole Hammer battles through series of close matches to win Western Amateur

Cole Hammer will enter the University of Texas this fall with one of the biggest hauls in amateur golf.

The 18-year-old defeated Alabama’s Davis Riley, 1 up, in a Saturday afternoon final to capture the Western Amateur. Hammer’s victory makes him the second straight 18-year-old to capture the prestigious amateur title, as Norman Xiong did so in 2017. But those pair make up just two of five 18-year-old winners of the event, with one of the others being Tiger Woods (1994).

The incoming Texas freshman makes this the second Western Am win for a Longhorn player in five years, as Beau Hossler captured the title in 2014.

He certainly earned it the hard way.

Hammer, of Houston, Texas, fired a course record 10-under 61 in the third round of stroke play at Sunset Ridge Country Club in Northfield, Ill., on his way to a 23-under total over 72 holes and co-medalist honors. But once match play started, he was fully tested.

Despite being the No. 1 seed, Hammer had to battle for his life early Friday in the Round of 16 against Alabama’s Davis Shore. It took 20 holes for Hammer to get past Shore.

Friday afternoon wasn’t much simpler. In fact, Hammer was in even worse shape as he sat 2 down through 13 in his quarterfinal match with Georgia’s Spencer Ralston.

But the teenager dug deep. He won three consecutive holes from Nos. 14-16 to snatch a 1-up lead and would hold on for a 1-up victory to reach the semis.

His Saturday morning semifinal with Stanford’s Brandon Wu was more of the same, as Hammer once again needed 20 holes but did pass through to reach the final.

Riley took down Georgia Tech’s Tyler Strafaci, 4 and 2, in the morning to make it to the final as well.

It appeared Hammer might finally get a reprieve in the final when he took a 4-up lead through 10 holes, but Riley battled back and had moved to only 1 down after a birdie at No. 16.

The last two holes would be halved in pars, though, earning Hammer a fourth straight nail-biting victory and the Western Amateur title.

Hammer first made a name for himself in golf when he qualified for the 2015 U.S. Open as a 15-year-old. And he’s kept up after that early exposure. He is currently Golfweek‘s No. 6 in the Class of 2018 and this win follows a victory with Garrett Barber at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball in May.

He may be a teenager, but Hammer is already mature in competitive golf. And he showed it in this amazing grind to a huge title.

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