Cantlay Wins 4 and 3 in U.S. Am Semifinals
Aug. 27, 2011
ERIN, Wis. - UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay continued his march toward the U.S. Amateur title Saturday with a victory in the semifinals at Erin Hills Golf Club. Cantlay defeated Jordan Russell 4 & 3, and will face Kelly Kraft in Sunday's 36-hole final.
Wind-swept Erin Hills bared some sharp teeth on Saturday as the greens became slicker and the fairways resembled airport runways because breezy, sunny conditions have not subsided since Thursday.
"I like when it's firm and fast," said Cantlay, who advanced to the semifinals of last year's Amateur at Chambers Bay. "I just think you have to have so much more feel, and you have to leave yourself in the right spot so it rewards knowing where you want to hit it and controlling your golf ball."
Cantlay is trying to complete an outstanding summer, one where he made the cut in four professional events, with the biggest amateur title in the country. The final match will pit the 19 year-old Cantlay against Kraft, a 22 year-old senior at Texas A&M. Both players are expected to earn invitations to the 2012 Masters, and are exempt into next year's U.S. Open at the Olympic Club.
"We're both playing the same golf course tomorrow, and we've both made it this far, so we're both playing pretty good," Kraft said. "I like my chances out there."
The match was a vintage seesaw battle with the two competitors trading wins through the first seven holes, five of those coming with pars. Cantlay, who never trailed, won the odd holes starting with a birdie at the first. At the par-5 seventh, he recorded a two-putt birdie with an unexpected win on the following hole that gave him breathing room.
At the par-4 eighth, playing 483 yards into the wind, Cantlay missed the green and couldn't get up and down to save par. But Russell also needed three strokes to get on after laying up in the rough with a wedge, and then he three-putted for double-bogey.
"That kind of got me started," Cantlay said. "I just tried to play solid golf from there on out and hit smart shots. I wasn't going to give any holes away."
Cantlay was 2 up at the turn. He was 3 up when Russell missed a 6-foot par putt on the par-4 11th. It was the seventh time either Cantlay or Russell won a hole with par or worse. Cantlay closed out the match in style, though. He two-putted for birdie the par-5 14th, then stiffed a wedge to a foot at the par-4 15th to match Russell's three footer for birdie.
With the usual match play concessions, Cantlay was one-over par on the day and Russell was four-over.
"Once Patrick got the momentum, he just played like he always does," Russell said. "He did a really good job of just playing consistent. He just played really solid and closed it out like he should have."
Sunday's 36-hole final begins at 8:30 a.m. CDT and will be televised by NBC at 1 p.m. PDT.
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