Stage is set for a thrilling finish to one of the nation’s best amateur championships
By Alex Podlogar
Photos by John Patota and Melissa Schaub
PINEHURST, N.C. – Tyler Wilkes came to the 16th tee of Pinehurst No. 4 during Wednesday’s second round still two shots off the cut line to make a playoff to stay alive in the 120th North & South Amateur.
He’s now in the Round of 16.
The last player to make the match play field, Wilkes stunned medalist and top-seeded Travis Vick 1-up Thursday in a tight match that came down to a final putt on the 18th hole of famed Pinehurst No. 2.
Wilkes, though, knows all about final putts.
“I had a good amount of confidence coming into the match today, based on how I finished yesterday,” Wilkes said.
On Wednesday, Wilkes was able to get up-and-down for birdie on the drivable par-4 16th on No. 4, then nearly holed his approach shot on 18 before getting to the green and seeing it had rolled some 15 feet past the pin.
But he calmly made that putt, good enough to get him into the four-players-for-one-spot playoff on Pinehurst No. 2 that would determine the 32nd and final seed for match play. Needing one putt again, he birdied the first playoff hole, punching his ticket to the Round of 32 against Vick, the rising star who plays for the Texas Longhorns.
“It was a great, great match, and I think we only made two bogeys as a group until the final hole,” said Wilkes, a rising freshman for the Florida Gators, who shot 68 to Vick’s 69 on Thursday. “I’m really excited to come out on top against one of the best amateurs in the world.”
The pair came to the 18th hole tied, and Wilkes made a comfortable par, but Vick, who bogeyed 18 on Wednesday for his only blemish during medal play, ran his chip from behind the green past the pin and could not make the putt for par to extend the match.
Less than two weeks ago, Peter Fountain beat Jonathan Brightwell in a playoff to win the North Carolina Amateur.
On Thursday, it was Brightwell’s turn.
Brightwell, a graduate transfer from UNC Greensboro to Oklahoma next year, won four holes in a 5-hole stretch to close out his friend Fountain, a rising freshman at North Carolina, to even up their summer score.
“We’re dear friends,” Brightwell said of his opponent. “I was happy for him at the state amateur. It really couldn’t have gone to a better guy, if I couldn’t win myself. I was happy to play him, but yeah, I was hoping to beat him this time.”
Fountain came into the Round of 32 match as the No. 2 seed, having fallen on the third hole of a playoff for medalist with Vick. Brightwell played as the 31st seed, but none of that mattered once the championship moved into match play.
“Match play is so unique,” Brightwell said. “You can make a double and only be one back. At times, it frees you up to really go after it. This course penalizes you pretty good for being off, so it’s nice to attack it, and if you pull it off, you can really make up some ground no matter what your seed. Everybody’s pretty good at this point.”
Turk Petitt was 3-down with four holes to play.
Without going extra holes.
Pettit capped a brilliant run of closing holes on No. 2 – after a par at 15, he made birdies at 16 and 17 to draw even – by chipping in from in front of the 18th green for yet another birdie to stun Blake Hathcoat 1-up.
“It was a difficult chip, and I had to catch it perfect,” Pettit said of the winning shot. “It was running away from me once got to the flag. I just hit it perfect and it went in.”
My goodness there are going to be some quality Round of 16 match-ups at @PinehurstResort:— Julie Williams (@Golfweek_Jules) July 2, 2020
WAGR No. 4 D. Thompson vs. W. Holcomb
Def. champ C. Dossey vs. ’18 Eastern Am champ N. Lyerly
OK transfer J. Brightwell vs. Ga. Tech’s T. Strafaci
Pepperdine teammates Menante vs. Highsmith
He laid the groundwork for the thrilling finish in the preceding holes of a match in which there was just one hole halved.
“It just…well, you know…the ball started to go in,” said Pettit, still a little stunned himself. “Nothing was really going my way all day. I knew it was time for something to go in, and somehow, I just made it happen.”
Round of 32 Highlights
Defending champion Cooper Dossey, the 5th seed in the championship, kept his title defense alive after rallying from 1-down with three holes to play, making a birdie on 17 and a routine par on 18 to close out Kelly Chinn…U.S. Amateur fan favorite William Holcomb V continues his story in Pinehurst with a 3&2 win over 9th-seeded Blake Taylor…Holcomb will face the championship’s highest-ranked player, Georgia’s Davis Thompson in the Round of 16 following Thompson’s win in 19 holes over Evan Davis. Thompson, the No. 4-ranked amateur in the world, was 3-down with three to play before winning the final three holes and taking the first extra hole…Ty Strafaci downed James Piot 3&2 to keep alive his quest to become the first grandfather/grandson duo to win the North & South Amateur…Matt McCarty beat 16-year-old Jackson Van Paris, the local favorite, 3&2.
120th North & South Amateur
June 29-July 4
Pinehurst No. 2
Round of 32
Thursday, July 2
No. 32 Tyler Wilkes d. No. 1 Travis Vick, 1up
No. 17 Matt McCarty d. No. 16 Jackson Van Paris, 3&2
No. 8 Davis Thompson d. No. 25 Evan Davis, 19 Holes
No. 24 William Holcomb V d. No. 9 Blake Taylor, 3&2
No. 29 Gordon Sargent d. No. 4 William Paysse, 1up
No. 13 Trey Winstead d. No. 20 Connor Schmidt, 4&3
No. 5 Cooper Dossey d. No. 28 Kelly Chinn, 1up
No. 12 Nick Lyerly d. No. 21 Kiersan Vincent, 4&3
No. 31 Jonathan Brightwell d. No. 2 Peter Fountain, 3&2
No. 15 Tyler Strafaci d. No. 18 James Piot, 3&2
No. 7 Dylan Menante d. No. 26 Philip Barbaree, 1up
No. 10 Joe Highsmith d. No. 23 Andy Lopez, 3&2
No. 3 David Perkins d. No. 30 Alex Ross, 5&4
No. 14 Turk Pettit d. No. 19 Blake Hathcoat, 1up
No. 6 Rasmus Neergard-Petersen d. No. 27 Maxwell Moldovan, 2&1
No. 11 Jonathan Yaun d. No. 22 Matthew Sharpstene, 2&1
Friday July 3
Round of 16
No. 32 Tyler Wilkes vs. No. 17 Matt McCarty, 7 a.m.
No. 8 Davis Thompson vs. No. 24 Williamholcomb V, 7:08 a.m.
No. 29 Gordon Sargent vs. No. 13 Trey Winstead, 7:16 a.m.
No. 5 Cooper Dossey vs. No. 12 Nick Lyerly, 7:24 a.m.
No. 31 Jonathan Brightwell vs. No. 15 Tyler Strafaci, 7:32 a.m.
No. 7 Dylan Menante vs. No. 10 Joe Highsmith, 7:40 a.m.
No. 3 David Perkins vs. No. 14 Turk Pettit, 7:48 a.m.
No. 6 Rasmus Neergard-Petersen vs. No. 11 Jonathan Yaun, 7:56 a.m.
Saturday, July 4
7 a.m. and 7:10 a.m.
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