Barry Cronin 2017-09-09 06:32:42
No amateur golf tournament consistently asks more of its eventual champion than the Western Amateur, which features: • A grueling format (72 holes of stroke play and four matches) • The deepest field (63 of the top 100-ranked players this year) • An extremely challenging golf course (Skokie Country Club in Glencoe this year) Norman Xiong, 18, of Canyon Lake, Calif., survived it all on Saturday, Aug. 5, dramatically defeating Doc Redman, 19, of Raleigh, N.C., with a par on the record fourth hole of sudden death to win the 115th Western in front of some 500 appreciative spectators who followed the pair across the course. It almost didn’t happen. Xiong, a sophomore at Oregon and Pac- 12 Freshman of the Year, was 3-up at the end of 14 holes, but Redman, a sophomore at Clemson and the ACC Freshman of the Year, won Nos. 15, 16 and 17 to tie the match heading to the 18th tee. Both players parred No. 18, with Redman lipping out a 20-footer for birdie and conceding a 4½ foot par putt in a spirit of sportsmanship Xiong had shown him on Nos. 16 and 17. In sudden death, the opponents went par, par, birdie before the finale at Skokie’s fourth hole, a 441-yard par 4. There, Redman’s approach slid off the front of the green, leaving him with a 120-foot uphill birdie putt from the fringe, which he hit to 15 feet. Meanwhile, Xiong hit his approach to 12 feet and barely missed his birdie try. When Redman missed his 15-footer, assuring a bogey, he conceded Xiong’s tap-in, removed his cap and shook hands. “It was hard to get your speed to twoputt,” Redman said. It was the 145th hole of the week for both Redman and Xiong. Xiong also was medalist, shooting 14-under par in stroke play, making it the 25th time the medalist has won the tournament since it began in 1899. “It could have gone either way,” said Xiong, whose Ducks finished runnerup earlier this summer at the NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. “That was a super-nice thing for him to give me that putt on 18. It was longer than any of the putts I gave him. I think he was the only guy in the field who would do that.” The 22-hole match marked the 13th time the tournament has gone to extra holes. Both players are eligible for the U.S. Amateur later this month at Riviera Country Club outside Los Angeles. Both also hope to play in Walker Cup matches in September against amateurs from Great Britain and Ireland. Walker Cup Captain Spider Miller was onsite all week scouting the cream of the amateur crop. “To win this tournament is such a long battle—the stroke play and then the match play against the best players in the world. I think that’s what differentiates it from all the other tournaments,” an exhausted Xiong commented after accepting the George R. Thorne Trophy. “Every day, it was a pleasure to play out here,” Xiong said of Skokie. “The course had a nice fluidity to it. It’s in my top five, for sure. I like Donald Ross designs.” The last time the medalist also won the tournament occurred in 2012, when Chris Williams prevailed at Exmoor Country Club. In the morning’s semifinal matches, Redman defeated big-hitting Texas A&M senior Cameron Champ, 22, of Sacramento, who finished 32nd at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, 3-and-2. Meanwhile, Xiong bested 2015 U.S. Amateur runner-up Derek Bard, a recent Virginia graduate, by a 2-and- 1 margin. The Sweet Sixteen was replete with stellar players, including Northbrook native and Illinois star Nick Hardy, 2015 Western Amateur champion Dawson Armstrong, highly ranked Chilean 18-year-old Joaquin Niemann, Min Woo Lee of Perth, Australia, and Brad Dalke, 19, a member of this year’s Oklahoma NCAA Championship team. Meanwhile, 2016 champion and Illini star Dylan Meyer, of Evansville, Ind., missed the 36-hole cut.
Published by Chicagoland Golf Media, Inc.. View All Articles.