OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (AP) — SMU senior Bryson DeChambeau advanced to the U.S. Amateur final, putting him a victory away from becoming the fifth player to win the tournament and NCAA individual title in the same year.
DeChambeau, from Clovis, California, beat Southern California sophomore Sean Crocker 4 and 3 in the semifinals Saturday at Olympia Fields. He will face Virginia junior Derek Bard of New Hartford, New York, in the 36-hole final Sunday. Bard topped Japan’s Kenta Konishi 3 and 2.
”It’ll be a fun battle,” DeChambeau said. ”If I can stay in the moment, I’ll be all right.”
Jack Nicklaus (1961), Phil Mickelson (1990), Tiger Woods (1996) and Ryan Moore (2004) are the only players to sweep the NCAA and Amateur titles in a season.
”To be in that group of players would be incredible, but I still have work to do,” DeChambeau said. ”I’m just going to play my game.”
DeChambeau won the par-4 eighth and ninth holes with pars to take a 2-up lead. Crocker won the par-4 11th with a birdie, but DeChambeau took the next three holes – birdieing the par-4 12th and 14th – and ended the match with a par for a halve on the par-3 15th.
A physics major who plays with a set of irons all cut to 6-iron length, DeChambeau was the equivalent of 3 under on his 15 holes and is 18 under in five match-play rounds.
Bard won the 12th, 14th and 15th holes and finished off Konishi with a par for a halve on the par-4 16th.
”I’m the underdog,” Bard said about the title match. ”Bryson has had an incredible career so far. It’s going to be tough. It really is. I told my dad, `I’m going to have to play my best golf to have a chance.”’
Konishi was trying to become the first Japanese winner in the event.
”All day, he hit it straight,” Konishi said through an interpreter. ”Sometimes, the opponent makes mistakes, and he didn’t make a mistake.”
DeChambeau and Bard earned spots next year in the Masters and U.S. Open. The winner Sunday also will get a spot in the British Open.
”It’s been my dream since I was a little kid to play in the Masters as a professional,” Bard said. ”I didn’t think I’d be doing that at age 20.”