The showdown we’ve all been waiting for
It took 43 holes and 10.5 hours, but Beau Hossler, in his first-ever California Amateur Championship, has advanced to the final round. Playing in both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on Friday, Beau managed to win two extra-hole matches to advance, making nearly a dozen clutch putts and pushing through a number of ups and downs to claim a spot in the final. He will face Xander Schauffele of San Diego State.
"It's the mental part that's the hardest," said Hossler of playing 43 holes. "I don't think people are meant to have to focus for 10+ hours at a time, but I was able to push through and give myself a lot of confidence heading into tomorrow."
In the quarterfinals, Hossler, a golfer at the University of Texas, faced off against UCLA's Lorens Chan. The two matched each other through the first five holes before Chan won two straight, giving himself a 2 up advantage through seven. Hossler slowly chipped away, winning the ninth hole with a birdie and capitalizing on a rare Chan bogey on 14 to again bring the match to All Square, where it would remain until the sixth extra hole. But Hossler needed to dig deep to even push his first match of the day to extra holes, leaving himself with a 15-foot par putt from the fringe on 18, with Chan sizing up his much more manageable five-footer on the green. Hossler drained the putt, as did Chan, and the match went back to the first hole.
Then things got fun. The two both collected pars on the 19th hole of the match, but Chan gave himself a four-footer for birdie on hole No. 20, which he missed. Three holes later, it was Hossler who had a chance to put the match away, but his eight-foot birdie putt on the 23rd hole of the match hung over the lip of the hole, never falling. Hossler gave it a few extra seconds to drop in, but when it didn't, he frustratingly scooped it up and moved on to the next hole.
"In match play you need to put things behind you and stay focus," said Hossler. "One slip up can cost you the tournament."
Hossler did just that, putting the bad luck behind him and striping his next drive down the middle. A 10-foot birdie putt on the 24th hole of the match sealed the deal.
At that point, it was ten minutes past the initial starting time for his semifinal match, which would pit him against Matt Hansen of Los Osos, Calif., who had beaten William Brueckner of Walnut Creek 2 and 1 more than an hour earlier. Hossler was given 40 minutes for lunch, before he was back on the first tee to start his second match of the day.
It looked like fatigue from his morning match may kick in, when Hossler fell down to Hansen by two holes after seven. But Hossler came roaring back, winning holes 9, 10 and 11 with a par, eagle and birdie to take a 1 up lead. It seemed he couldn't miss with his putter, draining putts of 30-feet and 25-feet over a four hole stretch to extend his lead to 2 up through 13 holes. But Hansen wasn't going down without a fight. With three holes to play and down two, Hansen 16 and 18 to force extra holes for Hossler once again.
"There's not much you can do when someone birdies two of the last three holes," said Hossler. "I played well, he was just making putts."
Hossler, now playing the first hole of Omni La Costa's Champions Course for the fourth time of the day, put things away birdie on the par 4, 359-yard hole, sealing the deal with a 25-footer that wrapped around half the cup and eventually fell in.
But there's no rest for Hossler now. He will tee off at 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning in the Championship's final match, a 36-hole affair that will put him up against a familiar foe in Schauffele. Last summer at the 2013 SCGA Amateur Championship, Hossler held a one-stroke lead over Schauffele heading into the final round of play, where he would eventually claim a three-stroke victory. The repeat-matchup is not lost on either competitor.
"It seems like Xander and I have been matched up at a lot of these things recently," said Hossler. "I like Xander a lot, and he's a tough competitor, so it'll be a tough match."
Schauffele is eager for the chance to battle Hossler again, with hopes for a different outcome.
"Last year I felt like he sort of beat me on my home course," said Schauffele, who's San Diego State team often plays out of San Diego CC where the SCGA Amateur was held. "I'm excited for the chance to face off against him again."
Schauffele didn't make it to the finals without a bit of stress himself, though, as his early 3 up lead through five holes evaporated to a 1 up lead through 14 holes in a semifinal match against Paul Smith of USC. Schauffele also used clutch putting to secure the win, capitalizing on an 18th hole bogey from Smith to seal the 2 up win.
"I'm just relieved, again, to make it through," said Schauffele, who will make his first California Amateur Championship finals appearance in three attempts.
Spectators are welcome to attend the final match, which pits the top-ranked amateur golfer in the initial 156-player field in Schauffele against the well-known Hossler, who became a household name during the 2012 U.S. Open. Live, hole-by-hole scoring will be available on scga.org.