Just another sign that golf is becoming more of a global game with more international players competing and contending in America’s premier championships. For the first time in the history of the U.S. Amateur, an American failed to reach the semifinals.
Instead, a pair of Australians, Brady Watt and Oliver Goss, advanced to to the final four, along with Canada’s Corey Conners and England’s Matt Fitzpatrick.
Watt and Goss, who are sharing a house this week, will face each other on Saturday at The Country Club, according to the AP:
‘‘We’re great mates and we’ve had a lot of close tournaments together, and we really enjoy playing together,’’ Watt said. ‘‘I think we get the best out of ourselves and with the amount of people out there today, we’re going to look forward to tomorrow to show everyone good shots.
Goss, an Amateur quarterfinalist last year, has a winning streak going over his pal.
‘‘He beat me in the state amateur stroke play, and then he beat me in the match play, and then he beat me in a five-hole playoff in the W Open,’’ Watt said. ‘‘I guess he owes me a couple.
Matt Fitzpatrick, an 18-year-old Englishman who is headed to Northwestern this fall, earned low amateur honors at the Open Championship last month. (And my personal favorite to win it all.)
“I didn’t have any expectations,” he said. “I was used to that sort of play on links courses, so for me it was just taking one shot a time. The Open week was the best week of my life by a mile.”
Even with that performance at Muirfield and being the second ranked amateur in the world, he feels no pressure to win this week at the Country Club.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m under pressure at any event because at the end of the day, all you can do is play your best,” he said. “If it’s not your day, it’s not your day.”
Still, he will benefit from the experience at Muirfield in his upcoming quarterfinal match on Friday.
“I think having the big crowds and being on TV holds you in good stead for something like this,” Fitzpatrick said. “No offense to the U.S. Am, but it’s a bit smaller than the Open Championship.
“But don’t get me wrong, the crowds here are fantastic. I can’t believe how strong they are. I quite enjoy playing in front of a crowd.”
See, this is why I like him — he played with Fred Couples at the Open on Sunday and hardly flinched. This is like a little league game for him!
Fitzpatrick is seeking to become the first English winner of the championship since 1911.
(Copyright USGA/John Mummert)