Extra holes the story in Rd. of 32
It looked like it may be another one and done California Amateur match play appearance for Xander Schauffele Wednesday, as he found himself 1 down heading into the final hole of regulation on Omni La Costa Resort & Spa's Champions Course. He had played solidly all day, but so had his opponent Kethan Reddy of Anaheim. A birdie on the par 3 16th hole had given Reddy a late advantage, and Schauffele, the top-ranked amateur in the 156-player tournament field, was running out of time.
The battle looked like a mis-match on paper. Schauffele is a star for the San Diego State golf team, and has dominated the Southern California amateur golf scene the past few years. Last year, he won medalist honors at the Cal Am, and he's also recorded back-to-back runner-up finishes at the SCGA Amateur Championship. This year has been no different, as Schauffele was just two strokes behind medalist Jason Anthony when stroke play concluded at the 2014 California Amateur Championship Tuesday evening.
But match play has been Schauffele's kryptonite. Despite playing superb golf during stroke play at last year's Cal Am, Schauffele lost in the first round of match play, failing to take advantage of his No. 1 seed. He promised this year would be different.
"Last year I think I put too much of an emphasis on winning stroke play, and wasn't in the right mindset heading into match play," said Schauffele before this week's tournament. "I think I'm more prepared this year to make the transition."
With just the par 5, 566-yard 18th hole left, Schauffele had to capitalize. Reddy's tee shot found water, so Schauffele played the hole safe, laying up with a beautiful approach shot before giving himself a birdie opportunity with a 20-footer. Reddy conceded the hole, sending the two back out to the first tee for more golf.
You could tell Schauffele got a second life. His tee shots looked sharper, and despite a missed three-foot putt on the second playoff hole that would have closed out the match, his putter caught fire as well. He closed out the duel on the third playoff hole with a 20-foot putt birdie putt from just off the green.
"I'm just relieved," said Schauffele. "That was a great match, and I'm just fortunate to get out of there with a win and move on."
But it won't get easier. Next up for Schauffele is Jake Knapp of UCLA, who dominated his opponent Wednesday, winning 4&3 over Scott Oxandaboure. Knapp was on fire out of the gate, collecting birdies on five of his first six holes to jump out to a 3up advantage. He never looked back.
"I know Jake pretty well, so tomorrow's going to be fun. Tough, but fun," said Schauffele.
Others to advance on to the Rd. of 16 include 2012 U.S. Open star Beau Hossler, No. 1 seed and medalist Jason Anthony, who defeated defending champion Cory McElyea, as well as Cal State Fullerton star Mark Anguiano. Four of the 16 matches needed extra holes to be decided Wednesday, with Schauffele's 21-hole match being the longest of the day.
Also advancing out of an extra-hole match was William Brueckner of Walnut Creek, Calif., who may have put together the hole of the tournament to assure extra holes and an eventual win. All tied up against Austin Amaya of Yorba Linda, Brueckner pulled his tee shot left of the green on the par 3 16th hole, landing in water. Taking off both his socks and shoes, Brueckner decided to play the ball as it lied, putting good club on it and sending it over the green and into a bunker. After replacing his footwear, he walked into the bunker and holed the shot for a creative, but impressive, par. He would eventually defeat his opponent in 20 holes, and will face Anguiano in the Rd. of 16.
The Rd. of 16 begins Thursday at 7:30 a.m.
Round of 16 Matches
Jason Anthony vs. Sidney Wolf at 7:30 a.m.
Xander Schauffele vs. Jake Knapp at 7:39 a.m.
Paul Smith vs. Jonathan Chang at 7:48 a.m.
Trevor Clayton vs. Ryan Knop at 7:57 a.m.
Beau Hossler vs. Shintaro Ban at 8:06 a.m.
Lorens Chan vs. Tyler Torano at 8:15 a.m.
William Brueckner vs. Mark Anguiano at 8:24 a.m.
Carter Pool vs. Matt Hansen at 8:33 a.m.
Schedule of Events
Monday, June 16 - 154 players compete in stroke play. Tee times starting between 7:30-11:40 a.m. on both Champions and Legends Courses
Tuesday, June 17 - 154 players compete in stroke play. Tee times starting between 7:30-11:40 a.m. on both Champions and Legends Courses
Wednesday, June 18 - 32 competitors compete in first round of match play on Champions Course starting at 7:30 a.m.
Thursday, June 19 - 16 competitors compete in second round of match play on Champions Course starting at 7:30 a.m.
Friday, June 20 - Quarterfinal matches, followed by semifinal matches, on Champions Course starting at 7:30 a.m.
Saturday, June 21 - 36-hole final match on the Champions Course starting at 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.