Bling outlasts Riley in epic match for all Pac-12 U.S. Amateur semifinal

USGA/Chris Keane

Bling outlasts Riley in epic match for all Pac-12 U.S. Amateur semifinal

Amateur

Bling outlasts Riley in epic match for all Pac-12 U.S. Amateur semifinal

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Davis Riley played the 2018 U.S. Amateur quarterfinal just the way you’d expect an All-American from one of the nation’s best programs to perform. Polished, steady and a complete player, the Alabama senior-to-be seemed destined to edge the talented but far less experienced Devon Bling.

However, a combination of just one poor approach shot at the par-4 16th and Bling’s bold play at the par-5 18th ultimately allowed the UCLA sophomore-to-be to edge his elder competitor, 1 up. Bling now faces another more experienced collegiate player in Stanford’s Isaiah Salinda, a 2-and-1 winner over Will Gordon.

“It was an intense match all day, right from the start,” Bling said. “I was pretty pumped up in certain instances. My assistant coach, he kept telling me to take a couple deep breaths. It was a big stage. I was amped up.”

Bling is playing the best golf of his young career and tipped his cap to Riley for performing like one of the nation’s best collegiate stars.

“I’ve been so impressed with how Devon’s matured,” said UCLA assistant coach Andrew Larkin, serving as Bling’s caddie this week. “He’s played great golf in stretches but his consistency over the course of this week has been fun to watch.”

Bling never held a lead in the match until his 18th hole birdie four after reaching the front bunker in two shots set up a 3 1/2 foot winning putt.

“The putt on 18 was – felt a little longer than three and a half feet. So yeah, I was pretty nervous out there.”

With a spot in the Masters on the line, Bling now faces Salinda. The two were was recently paired at the Pac 12 Championship and Bling knows Salinda a bit through teammate Eddie Lai, who could be heard screaming for Bling during Friday’s quarterfinal.

Bling will likely be facing a strong contingent of Stanford and South San Francisco fans rooting for Salinda, but is happy to feed off his underdog status.

“I like the underdog role,” the second youngest of Saturday’s semifinalists said. “I’ve kind of always been like that, coming from Ridgecrest, not many people know where that is. Yeah, I do enjoy it, but I’m here to play some golf. That’s what I came here to do, and doing it pretty well so far.”

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