LOS ANGELES (AP) — Doc Redman stood over a 60-foot eagle putt on the 35th hole of the U.S. Amateur final, his hand in his pocket as usual. One hole earlier, he missed a 4-footer to fall two holes behind with two to play, and his championship chances probably rested on this long, tricky shot.
And if the 19-year-old sophomore from Clemson felt even a bit of that pressure, Redman never showed it while he holed that daunting putt and made an incredible comeback to win.
“I didn’t even think about it, really,” Redman said. “All that was going through my head was about making the putt and putting a good stroke on it. Honestly, I was just (thinking), ‘You’re going to make this. You’re going to make this.’ And it worked out well.”
Redman rallied past Doug Ghim and won on the first extra hole Sunday, claiming the Havemeyer Trophy in the 117th edition of the Amateur.
After Redman gave away his own lead with eight holes to play, Ghim was on the verge of victory with two holes left in the two-round final at Riviera Country Club. But Redman capped his phenomenal putting day by making that 60-footer and following with a short, tricky birdie putt on the 36th hole to force overtime.
“I always have a lot of confidence from mid-range,” said Redman, who puts his hand in his pocket before his stroke as part of his putting routine. “When I see one go in, I definitely get big eyes and I know I can make anything.”
Ghim put his tee shot in the rough and his second shot in the sand on the extra hole – Riviera’s famed 10th. After Ghim’s bogey putt missed, he conceded the hole and the title to Redman.
“It was a chess match, except your golf ball isn’t moving like a pawn should on the board,” Ghim said.
The 62nd-seeded Redman followed a thoroughly improbable route to become the second Clemson player to win the Amateur after Chris Patton in 1989. The Raleigh native had a solid freshman year with the Tigers and reached the final of the Western Amateur, but gave little suggestion he was ready to make history at Riviera.
Doc – that’s his given name, not a nickname – became the second-lowest seed to win the title since 1985. He is the first champion to advance through the playoff to match play since Steven Fox, the lowest seed ever to win the Amateur at No. 63, did it in 2012.
“It’s incredible to add my name to the list of all the incredible champions already, and to have conquered arguably the best field in amateur golf, and a really difficult grind, too,” Redman said. “I beat some of the best players in the world, and I hope this can vault me up into that conversation as well going forward.”
Class starts at Clemson on Wednesday, so Redman is headed home to school – but he’ll be right back in LA. Redman and Ghim, a senior at the University of Texas, will be teammates in Walker Cup competition in three weeks at Los Angeles Country Club, where a 10-man team of American amateurs will face a team from Britain and Ireland.
Redman also gets a full exemption into the 2018 U.S. Open and the next 10 U.S. Amateurs, and a probable invitation to the Masters along with Ghim.
Ghim and Redman advanced comfortably through match play during the week on the famed course in Pacific Palisades. When they began the final under cloudy coastal conditions Sunday morning, they were practically even for the first 30 holes, with neither player taking a lead larger than 2 up.
Redman was 1 up with eight holes left in regulation, but Ghim won the 11th when Redman missed a short putt. Ghim took the lead on the 13th and then went 2 up when Redman missed that short par putt on the 16th.
The trophy appeared to be in Ghim’s hands – but it was snatched away on the final holes. Ghim, a Chicago-area native who wore a Cubs cap Sunday, also got to the verge of winning the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links title before blowing his lead on the final hole.
“As good as Doc played, I felt like I was losing weight just thinking about the shots I was trying to hit,” Ghim said.