Horsfield claims medalist honors

By MATT HARNESS/WGA

LAKE FOREST, Illinois (Aug. 3, 2016) —  Sam Horsfield, of Manchester, England, narrowly missed making Western Amateur history on Thursday. But he still managed to trample the field and claim medalist honors at Knollwood Club in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Horsfield turned a one-stroke lead at the start of Thursday’s final 36 holes of stroke play into a nine-shot victory by shooting 67-64 to join Bobby Jones, Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson as past Western Amateur medalists. His 72-hole total was four strokes shy of the Western Amateur record, set by Aron Price in 2004 at Point O’Woods Golf & Country Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

A birdie at the par-5 16th — one of nine in his round — got the Florida sophomore to 17 under. Birdies on his final two holes would have given him a share of the record. He made a pair of bogeys instead, but he’s still headed to match play.

“I feel like I played really good,” said Horsfield, who shot a course-record 63 on Tuesday and led after every round of stroke play. “I could have been a little better, but that is nitpicking at things.

“Coming into [Thursday], if you would have told me you got to 17-under par, I wouldn’t have believed you, so I will take it.”

Michael DeMorat, of Merritt Island, Florida, was one back of Horsfield after three rounds and finished solo second at 6 under. Andy Zhang, of Beijing, China, took third at 4 under. Zhang, who will be Horsfield’s teammate at Florida this fall, played in the 2012 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco when he was 14 years old.

Horsfield is making his second consecutive appearance in the Sweet 16. John Coultas, of Valrico, Florida, is also making a return trip to match play. He finished tied for fourth with Nick Hardy of Northbrook, Illinois, at 3 under. Hardy advanced to match play in 2014 at The Beverly Country Club in Chicago, Illinois.

Coultas, a junior at Florida Southern and last season’s NCAA Division II National Player of the Year, saved his best golf for his last nine holes of medal play. He carded four birdies and zero bogeys on the back nine to shoot a 67, his lowest round of the tournament. He gained all the momentum he needed with his 20-footer for birdie on the par-5 10th.

“When I made the turn, I knew I was a few shots out of it,” Coultas said. “I thought 1 under would get me there. I started rolling putts in, and I stayed patient all day.”

Doug Ghim, of Arlington Heights, Illinois, is the fourth player competing in match play for a second time. The 2014 Western Amateur medalist tied for sixth with Braden Bailey, of Groves, Texas, at 2 under.

After rounds of 70-70 on Thursday to tie for eighth at 1 under, Greyson Sigg, of Augusta, Georgia, qualified for match play in his first appearance at the Western Amateur.

“I am thrilled to be moving on,” said Sigg, a senior at Georgia. “I think [match play] is awesome. You can be very aggressive. ... It will be a good test for all of us.”

The cut came at even par, and six players went to a playoff for five spots.