U.S. Amateur match-play bracket nearly set; Hillier, Hammer top seeds

USGA/Chris Keane

U.S. Amateur match-play bracket nearly set; Hillier, Hammer top seeds

Amateur

U.S. Amateur match-play bracket nearly set; Hillier, Hammer top seeds

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – After Cole Hammer fired a 4-under 68 at Spyglass Hill to finish stroke-play qualifying of the U.S. Amateur at 6 under, he was asked about then idea of being the top seed for match play.

“Has anyone ever won it as a 1 seed?” Hammer asked.

Yes, but not often. The last time the top seed won was 2004, when Ryan Moore took the title. Before that? Tiger Woods in 1996.

“So there’s that,” Hammer said.

Luckily, Hammer won’t have to worry about the perceived jinx. He did share co-medalists honors with New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier, but Hillier will earn the No. 1 seed for match play, which begins Wednesday at Pebble Beach. Hammer will be the second seed, and will face Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz, who played college golf at Arkansas, in the Round of 64.

Several big names also advanced to match play, including four of the top five amateurs in the world: No. 1 Braden Thornberry, No. 2 Justin Suh, No. 3 Collin Morikawa and No. 5 Viktor Hovland. Morikawa has the toughest first-round match-up of the four in Vanderbilt’s John Augenstein. Hovland will play Oklahoma State teammate Hayden Wood.

Other notable match-ups for Wednesday: 2017 U.S. Junior champ Noah Goodwin vs. mid-amateur Garrett Rank, who doubles as an NHL referee; 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Stewart Hagestad, who shot 66 Tuesday at Pebble Beach, vs. UNLV’s Harry Hall; and Georgia Tech’s Tyler Strafaci vs. LSU’s Luis Gagne, the reigning U.S. Open co-low amateur.

The final spot for match play will be filled via a 24-for-1 playoff, which will begin Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. on Pebble’s 17th hole.

“Since this is over, get into match play, go win five or six matches, whatever you got to do,” said Thornberry, who called the first two days of the U.S. Amateur two of his least favorite days of the year. “That’s the plan from here.”

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