August 15, 2018
Ban On to Round of 32 at U.S. Amateur
Things didn’t look so good for Shintaro Ban at the turn of his opening Round of 64 match at this week’s U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
When he stepped to the tee at the par-4 11th, Ban, the 2016 NCGA Player of the Year and No.9 seed, was 2-down to No. 56 Skip Berkmeyer of Missouri.
The tide, however, was set to turn. On the 11th, Ban first got things back on track when he drained a curling 15-footer for birdie.
“At one point, it did seem like the match was in his favor,” said Ban, who could be making his final appearance as an amateur. “But I just kind of stuck to the basics with some swing thoughts and started hitting some more greens.”
Not only did Ban start hitting more greens, his putter also woke up. While the two would halve holes No.12 and 13, Ban went on to take a 1-up lead with back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th holes. On the par-5 14th, he’d knock in a 35-footer for birdie.
Still holding a precarious 1-up lead, Ban stayed on top on the historic par-3 17th with a great up and down from the greenside bunker to within 3 feet of the flagstick.
On the closing 18th, Ban–playing it safe and laying up–hit his third shot to within 15 feet of the flagstick. Berkmeyer, meanwhile, knocked his third to about 8 feet. Berkmeyer wouldn’t even get a chance to putt, as Ban closed things out with yet another birdie. Over his final eight holes, the recent UNLV grad would go 4-under.
He’ll next take on No.41 Devon Bling of Ridgecrest. Bling a former Junior Tour of Northern California member who now plays at UCLA, cruised in his opening match, 5 and 4.
“It’s tough out here,” said Ban, who won the 2016 NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship at Spyglass Hill. “It’s definitely a mental test. It’s not easy.”