August 17, 2018
NorCal’s Salinda On to U.S. Amateur Semifinals
Isaiah Salinda, winner of last year’s NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship, punched his ticket Friday to the semifinals of this week’s U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach Golf Links with a 2 and 1 quarterfinals win over Will Gordon.
Entering his senior year at Stanford University, Salinda, who entered the U.S. Am at No. 73 in the WAGR, won four of the first five holes, then withstood a similar charge by Gordon midway through the match.
Salinda, who won this year’s Pacific Coast Amateur at The Olympic Club, closed out the match with a winning birdie on the par-4 16th hole, when he hit a 9-iron to within inches of the hole. He’ll next take on Devon Bling in Saturday morning’s semifinals.
Cole Hammer, 18, of Houston, Texas, posted a 3-and-2 quarterfinal victory Friday over Alex Fitzpatrick, of England, to advance to the semifinal round against Viktor Hovland of Norway, the No. 5 player in the world, as Hammer seeks his second USGA victory of 2018.
Hammer, an incoming freshman at the University of Texas, is the championship’s co-medalist and the No. 2 seed. Hammer captured the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball with Garrett Barber in May, and he was a U.S. Junior Amateur semifinalist three weeks ago and the Western Amateur champion two weeks ago.
“I’m trying not to think any further down the line,” said Hammer, who is 12-1 in his last 13 individual matches and 16-1 counting the Four-Ball victory. “I try to take each shot, each hole, each match as it comes. You can look ahead and what I might be able to have in the future, but I’m just trying to stay focused on the moment.”
Hammer will face possibly his sternest test of the week in Saturday’s semifinal round. At No. 5, Hovland is the highest player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) left in the field, and he has rolled to back-to-back victories by 7-and-6 scores, including Friday’s win over Austin Squires in which he reeled off seven consecutive winning holes after halving the first.
Hovland’s margin of victory ties three other players (most recently Ben Curtis in 1999 at Pebble Beach) for the largest in a U.S. Amateur quarterfinal round since 1934, when matches were shortened from 36 to 18 holes.