Oliver Goss met Brady Watt when he was 12 or 13 years old. Since then, they have played many rounds of golf together.
“Hundreds,” Watt said. “At least.”
For the last week, they have stayed with the same host family in Wellesley. Each morning they’ve shared the same home-cooked breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, blueberry pancakes, and orange juice.
But for five hours on Saturday, the close friends barely talked.
Goss and Watt (both from Perth) competed in the first all-Australian semifinal in US Amateur history at The Country Club, with Goss, a 19-year-old, prevailing, 2 up, setting up a date with Matt Fitzpatrick in Sunday’s 36-hole final.
Goss and Watt exchanged smiles but no more than small talk. Their body language and demeanor was tense the entire match, with a berth in two major championships in sight.
Often, one walked 20 or 30 feet in front of the other as they marched the fairway. The mutual cold shoulder exemplified their competitiveness.
“It’s still stressful, it’s not carefree,” Watt said of competing against his friend. “But I think we can get the best out of each other.”
Goss bogeyed the first two holes, but responded with back-to-back birdies. He led for most of the match, and his best shot of the day came on No. 14. In fact, the hole included highlights for both players.
Watt’s approach shot (for eagle) lipped the cup and ended up within a foot of a pin, drawing a roar from the crowd. Then Goss nailed a 30-foot putt.
“I don’t know if I could do it again if I had 100 balls,” Goss said.
“That was pretty much the thing all day,” Watt said. “Whatever I did really well, he kind of did a little bit better.”
Goss said he never envisioned a situation where the two would meet in such a high-stakes match.
It’s peculiar timing, too. Their careers aren’t exactly aligned.
Watt, 22, has been in the US since June 28 competing in several tournaments. Back in Australia, he works as a professional cleaner. It’s a night job, so he can golf during the day.
“Cleaning office buildings, doing toilets, cleaning office spaces,” Watt explained. “It’s a casual-based job, so I can kind of float in.”
Watt is No. 9 in world amateur rankings and could turn professional in the next year or two. He said he drew many positives from his run at the US Amateur.
“I’m really happy with myself,” Watt said. “It doesn’t feel like a loss to me because I’ve had such a great experience in the States, and I took a lot out of it.”
Goss has been in the States for eight months. He is entering his sophomore year at the University of Tennessee, where he is one of the highest-ranked players the school ever recruited. His immediate family is back home in Australia and England. None made the trip for this tournament.
They send him messages every day, and try to Skype or FaceTime as much as possible.
“I’m getting used to it, but sometimes it does get tough without them,” Goss said.
The friends are enjoying this shared experience. Their host family has taken them to see Boston, from a trip to the North End to dinner at Legal Seafood.
On Friday night, they went to Fenway Park for the Red Sox’ game against the Yankees.
“[Alex Rodriguez] comes out as soon as we sit down,” Goss said. “And everyone just goes nuts with the boos and . . . some things I don’t want to mention. But the atmosphere was unbelievable.”
“That’s a pretty insane stadium,” Watt said.
Goss returned to Fenway Saturday night. He and fellow finalist Matt Fitzpatrick threw out first pitches, a prearranged appearance set up by the United States Golf Association.
Upon hearing the news — about 10 minutes after finishing his semifinal match — Goss threw his hands over his head and said, “I can’t do that. I don’t play baseball.”
Goss was also told he would have an extra ticket to bring one guest to the game.
Of course, he chose Watt.