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Four-Time USGA Champion Smith Leads Quarterfinalists at U.S. Amateur
Four-time USGA winner Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh, and 2013 semifinalist Corey Conners of Canada, were among eight players who each won two matches Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of match play in the 2014 U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club's 7,105-yard, par-71 Highlands Course.
Smith, at 36 the oldest remaining entrant, defeated Brandon McIver 4 and 3 in the second round, and 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion Byron Meth, 21, of San Diego, in 21 holes in the third round. Smith, an investment advisor, was the final player to advance to the 64-man match-play field following a playoff Wednesday morning.
"I just try to play hard and try not to give too many holes away and just try to stay with the guys and it's worked out," said the four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and three-time USA Walker Cup Team member. "So far, so good."
Smith, playing in his 14th U.S. Amateur, is making his deepest run in the USGA's oldest championship. His previous best finish was advancing to the third round in 2000. "In these events, you just have to turn your brain off and just go play, play hard," said Smith.
"Whatever happens, happens. You can't worry about what the stakes are or what's on the line. Just go play your heart out, and if somebody dusts you up tomorrow, it is what it is; and if you keep going, it's great."
Conners, a senior at Kent State, defeated Jon Rahm of Spain 3 and 1 in the third round after a 4-and-3 morning win over Jesse Heinly. "I feel like my game's getting better and better as the matches go on," said Conners, who enlisted his college roommate and teammate Taylor Pendrith as his caddie Thursday. "I am hitting it where I want to, so it is pretty easy to feel good and have some confidence."
Conners and Pendrith were co-players of the year in the Mid-American Conference. Conners built a 3-up lead through nine holes, but Rahm, 14th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, won the next three holes to square the match. Conners then won three of the next four holes, two with birdies to secure the victory.
Also advancing to the quarterfinals with third-round wins were: Gunn Yang, 20, a Korean citizen who plays college golf at San Diego State, who defeated Georgia Tech All-American and world No.1 Ollie Schniederjans 1 up; Oklahoma State sophomore Zach Olsen, 20, of Cordova, Tenn., who beat 2014 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Will Zalatoris 5 and 3; University of Houston senior Roman Robledo, 21, of Harlingen, Texas, who defeated SMU's Bryson DeChambeau 3 and 1; high-school senior Cameron Young, 17, of Scarborough, N.Y., who edged Baylor All-American Kyle Jones 1 up; Pepperdine senior Fred Wedel, 19, of The Woodlands, Texas, who beat 2013 British Open contestant Jimmy Mullen of England 2 and 1; and University of Virginia senior and 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur semifinalist Denny McCarthy, 21, of Rockville, Md., who came from behind to beat 2013 Canadian Amateur winner Eli Cole, 1 up.
All quarterfinalists earn exemptions in the 2015 U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club.
The 2014 U.S. Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Sunday, starting at 8:30 a.m. The quarterfinal round of match play is set for Friday and the semifinal round is scheduled for Saturday.
The above report is courtesy of the USGA. For more information and scoring details, visit www.usga.org.