Gordon, Horsfield, Meyer, Riley advance to semifinals

By MATT HARNESS/WGA

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (Aug. 5, 2016) — There was no point Friday afternoon that Will Gordon, of Davidson, North Carolina, thought he was going to lose his quarterfinal match.

Not even when he faced a 3-down deficit to Braden Bailey, of Groves, Texas, after three holes. That positive attitude carried Gordon to a 1-up win and a berth in the semifinals of the 2016 Western Amateur at Knollwood Club.

“I really believed I was not going to go home [Friday],” said Gordon, a sophomore at Vanderbilt. “I felt like I was playing good enough and making enough putts to come back. I just kept fighting.”

Gordon squared the match with a birdie at No. 12 and took a 1-up lead with a birdie at No. 14, a lead he never surrendered. But Gordon said his 12-footer for par on No. 9 is what won him the match against Bailey, who didn’t make a bogey in his round.

“That kept me in it, kept me going,” he said. 

Gordon is one of four first-time semifinalists at the Western Amateur. Medalist Sam Horsfield, of Manchester, England, Dylan Meyer, of Evansville, Indiana, and Davis Riley, of Hattiesburg, Mississippi also all won both of their matches Friday. What’s more, Meyer, Riley and Gordon all survived a playoff Thursday to secure their spots in the Sweet 16. 

Horsfield and Riley will meet in the first semifinal at 8 a.m. Saturday, and Meyer and Gordon will play in the second semifinal at 8:15 a.m.

Horsfield, a sophomore at Florida, is looking to become the first medalist since Chris Williams in 2012 at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Illinois, to win the overall tournament title, too. He beat Joaquin Niemann, of Santiago, Chile, in 19 holes in the morning and defeated JJ Grey, of Kent, England, 2 up in the quarterfinals.

After going 4 up through 10 holes on Grey, Horsfield’s lead evaporated by the 17th tee. But he made two consecutive pars to close out the match.

“I played OK,” Horsfield said. “I had a couple of hot stretches here and there, like the front nine [in the] afternoon. I struggled a little bit on the back nine, but it was good enough to get it done. That’s all that matters in match play.”

Meyer needed all 18 holes to beat Michael DeMorat, of Merritt Island, Florida, in the morning, but he knocked off Ghim, the 2014 medalist, 5 and 4 in the afternoon. He said the difference in the two matches was putting the ball in the fairway off the tee. His drive on No. 1 in the afternoon set the tone for his round. \

“Getting that drive in the fairway, knowing I can hit a straight drive [was key],” Meyer said. “I was rolling the ball good all day, so it was a matter of time before they started falling, and they fell.”

Riley had the opposite day of Meyer. He defeated Nick Hardy, of Northbrook, Illinois, 4 and 2, in the morning before earning a 1-up win over John Coultas, of Valrico, Florida, in the quarterfinals. In fact, Riley didn’t take his first lead over Coultas until making par on No. 18.

“I was down all day, but I tried to stay positive,” said Riley, a sophomore at Alabama. “Things worked out in the end. ... I knew I was hitting the ball well and giving myself some good looks.”

After winning No. 17 with a par to get all square, Riley found the fairway with his tee shot on the par-4 18th. Coultas missed both the fairway and green, and Riley’s par was good enough to advance to Saturday’s semifinals.

“I had a little momentum going into the last hole,” he said. “It was quite a relief to pipe one down the middle on the last and have a good look for birdie.”