It’s been four years since an international player won the US Amateur, but with five of the eight remaining players living outside the United States, the odds are certainly in favor of that streak coming to an end.
The quarterfinalists include three Americans, two Australians, two from England, and one from Canada. There’s guaranteed to be at least one international player in the semifinals, since top seed Neil Raymond of England and Canadian Corey Conners meet Friday morning.
Non-Americans have put their stamp on this tournament since it started on Monday: Raymond and Australia’s Brady Watt were co-medalists, and the top five on the stroke-play leaderboard were international players.
“It’s an international game, it’s not just golf in America, there’s a lot of great players around the world,” said Patrick Rodgers of Avon, Ind., who lost his Round of 16 match on Thursday to Conners, 5 and 3. “If you look at the world rankings, there’s plenty of international players sprinkled in there, and a lot of them came here and have played really well so far this week.”
Raymond used an up-and-down par at the last hole to beat another Aussie, Nathan Holman, 1 up, to move into the quarterfinals. Watt, the No. 2 seed, used 3-and-2 and 2-and-1 victories to advance, while Oliver Goss, the third seed from Australia, ousted Xander Schauffele in the third round, 3 and 1.
England’s Matt Fitzpatrick, the world’s No. 2-ranked amateur, has recorded three consecutive 4-and-3 wins, never getting pushed past the 15th hole. He beat fellow teenager Gavin Hall on Thursday afternoon.
“The game is expanding. It was only a matter of time when those guys were going to get over here and play,” said Hall, from Pittsford, N.Y. “Now it’s a no-brainer. You make it to the finals, you’ll be playing in almost every major.”
Caught looking (ahead)
After dispatching Justin Shin in the morning (3 and 2) to get to the Round of 16, Chelso Barrett acknowledged he started thinking about winning four more matches. A youthful mistake, perhaps, because the 18-year-old from Surry, N.H., was promptly eliminated in the afternoon, falling to Adam Ball, 6 and 5.
Still, in his third US Amateur, it was Barrett’s best performance, one that will send him to college — he’ll be a freshman at Texas Christian — with a boost of confidence.
“It was a really nice week. It’s always nice just to make match play, and to win a couple matches is really good,” Barrett said. “Obviously, when you win a couple matches you get that taste of you think you can win it, so it’s kind of disappointing, bittersweet.”
Ball, who plays at Virginia Commonwealth and lives in Richmond, took advantage of Barrett’s uncharacteristic poor play.
In 13 holes, Barrett made five bogeys and a double. He never led, fell three holes down after six, four after seven, and five after 11. When Barrett bogeyed the 13th, it was over.
“It’s really tough when you’re not hitting it well, and then he’s hitting it pretty well and he’s making everything,” said Barrett, who was the last New England player still playing.
“Just have to take from the positives and try to work on the negatives. It’s nice to win a couple matches. I definitely know I can play with these guys now.”
With one previous trip to the US Amateur quarterfinals, two seasons at Stanford of being named a first-team All-American, a tie for 15th at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic, and his second appearance in the Walker Cup weeks away, Rodgers might have been considered the favorite.
His list of accomplishments is long and distinguished, which made his loss to Conners difficult to take.
“Disappointed, for sure. I I felt like I was playing well, played really well this morning, just didn’t get it done this afternoon, which is frustrating,” said Rodgers, who beat Greg Eason in the second round.
“I feel like I have the game to win this championship, and I’m just frustrated that I don’t have that opportunity.”
Rodgers was the only one of the five Walker Cup players already named to the US team to qualify for match play.
He’ll try to help the Americans win back the Cup, after losing the 2011 matches to Great Britain & Ireland at Royal Aberdeen.
Of the 16 players who advanced to the third round, 10 are still in their teens. Raymond, at 27, is the oldest. US Junior Amateur champion Scottie Scheffler, who recently turned 17, is the youngest. High-level amateur golf is a young man’s game, and has been for some time . . . Because of the influx of young talent, Raymond stands out. But he’s never seriously considered turning pro before this, because he knew he wasn’t ready. “I’ve had some really good people around me that wouldn’t let me turn pro. Well, obviously they would have let me, but they would have advised me against it,” he said. “If you turn pro early, then you’re just going to fall by the wayside, and unfortunately, I think a lot of guys do that. I’m not saying that I’m going to be the one that, because I turn pro later, I’m going to succeed, but I feel I’m giving myself the best opportunity to do that. I’ve got to look at it as a business venture rather than just an idea that everybody says I’m 27 and should have turned pro three years ago. To me, it’s how do I feel I’m going to earn the most money, and it’s getting the scoring skills, getting the life experiences, getting the golf experiences to do that.” . . . Attendance figures so far this week, according to the US Golf Association: 4,025 on Monday, 3,950 on Tuesday, 3,725 for Wednesday. Tickets for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are still available . . . Golf Channel will broadcast Friday’s quarterfinals on a tape-delayed basis, from 9-11 p.m.