Western Amateur field cut to Sweet 16 for Match Play
By MATT HARNESS
CARMEL, Ind. (July 30, 2020) – Angus Flanagan, of Woking, England, turned to a local for help during the final round of stroke play at the 118th Western Amateur at Crooked Stick Golf Club, and it proved to be a smart move.
With Jeff Doty, of Carmel, Indiana, as his caddie, Flanagan fired a 6-under 66 on Thursday afternoon to finish 11 under after 72 holes and earn medalist honors in his first appearance in the championship. Flanagan, a senior at Minnesota, sunk a 30-foot putt for birdie on his final hole to edge out Sam Bennett, of Madisonville, Texas, by one stroke.
“It wasn’t the easiest of putts, but Jeff stepped in and told me to hit it higher than I first thought,” Flanagan said. “Sure enough, it went in dead center. He was great all day, offering second opinions or confirming my decisions.”
Flanagan and Doty met during a practice round and have become friends during the week. Doty, the 2018 Western Junior champion, missed Wednesday’s 36-hole cut.
“They really took me under their wing, and that was very nice of them to do,” Flanagan said of the Doty family. “I consider him a good friend, even though I’ve known him for only a couple of days.”
Even though Flanagan is roughly 4,000 miles from where he grew up, he said he felt right at home on a rainy Thursday in Carmel.
“I’ve got rubber skin,” he joked. “The rain water falls right off me. I’ve played in much worse conditions.”
Following an unsteady start, Flanagan played the final 27 holes Thursday 10 under, including 4 under on the last eight.
“I was a bit lethargic in the morning because I didn’t sleep that well, but I knew I had the game to make birdies,” he said.
Flanagan enters the start of match play Friday as the top seed. His 66 tied the low round of the week. The cut came at even par, and Austin Hitt, of Longwood, Florida, survived a seven-person playoff for the final spot.
Bennett, a junior at Texas A&M, held the lead after an eagle at the par-5 15th, but he made bogeys on two of his final three holes. Matthias Schmid, of Maxhuette, Germany, took third in medal play at 9 under. He’s the first German to qualify for the Sweet 16. Defending U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree, of Little Rock, Mississippi, finished fourth at 8 under.
Three of the Sweet 16 are repeat qualifiers. Ricky Castillo, of Yorba Linda, California, Turk Pettit, of Sugar Grove, North Carolina, and Davis Thompson, of Saint Simons Island, Georgia, all advanced to match play last year.
Castillo, a sophomore at Florida who finished fifth at 7 under, was a semifinalist at Point O’ Woods Golf and Country Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan, a year ago.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re first or 16th, everything resets,” he said. “You will have a little different mindset in match play. You can be a little more aggressive, but it’s all about what your competitor is doing. I’m excited to be part of it again.”
The Round of 16 and quarterfinals are Friday. The semifinals and championship match are Saturday.
This is the first time since 1951 that one of the world’s oldest and most storied amateur golf championships is being played in the state of Indiana. South Bend Country Club hosted that year’s Western Amateur, which was won by famed golfer Frank Stranahan. The Western Amateur has never been played in the Indianapolis area.
Crooked Stick has hosted several elite golf championships, including the 2012 BMW Championship won by Rory McIlroy and the 2016 BMW Championship won by Dustin Johnson.
Crooked Stick also has been a supporter of the Evans Scholars Foundation, a nonprofit established by the Western Golf Association that has awarded full tuition and housing college scholarships to more than 11,000 caddies since 1930.
Twenty-four of those caddies were from Crooked Stick, including Joe Conway, who is currently enrolled at Purdue University.