ARDMORE, Pa. – The match of the morning ended up being the 20-hole battle between Llanerch Country Club’s Stephen Seiden and Stone Harbor Golf Club’s Peter Barron, III.
Despite holding the lead walking to the 15th (par 4, 418 yards) tee, Seiden found himself in a precarious situation heading to Merion’s famous finish. He was down 1 with one to play.
Then his best shot of the day – maybe his best shot in years – arrived at the perfect time.
“My best shot came on 18 from the left rough. To keep it on the green and pin high from there was definitely my highlight,” said Seiden, of Newtown Square, Pa. “That was the best shot I’ve made it a long time. That was a big one for my confidence and it came in a big spot.”
His birdie there stretched the match to extra holes.
On the second playoff hole, Seiden sent a birdie to the bottom of the cup for the victory. Two holes of “free golf” was all that Seiden needed to advance against Barron, the 2014 GAP Middle-Amateur Champion.
“I gave myself two good looks out there on the extra holes. It was a grind,” said Seiden. ”We were up and down all day. We both hit it well and it was just a back-and-forth match.”
This isn’t the first time the 34-year-old has jarred a winning birdie in the Amateur. He did so in 2007 at Applebrook Golf Club, in the Quarterfinals, against Golden Oaks Golf Club’s Donny Wessner.
Another interesting Seiden fact? He’s got a friendly GAP face on the bag. Jack St. Amour, a current Villanova University student who interned with the Association’s Tournament Department last summer, is providing reads and Seiden support.
“He’s my buddy. He’s been on my bag for a few U.S. Amateur Qualifiers and other events,” said Seiden, who has qualified for two U.S. Amateurs with St. Amour on the bag. “He’s working for a buddy of mine at Llanerch, and figured if I could get him the day off and out here it’d be good for him. He loves to smile and laugh, so we have fun, and we work well out there together.
St. Amour, also of Newtown Square, Pa., got in touch with Seiden late last night to offer his congratulations on making match play. Seiden replied back with a job offer.
“When I texted him last night, he asked me if I’d like to caddie for him today,” said the 20-year-old St. Amour. “I called up my boss and asked for the day off and he gratefully gave it to me. We’ve had some success together and hopefully today fits that bill again.”
The eighth-seeded Seiden is set to square off with No. 24 seed Michael R. Brown, Jr. of Philadelphia Publinks GA in the Round of 16.
Jeremiah’s birdie bomb upsets top-seeded Ross
Bill Jeremiah sent home top-seeded Patrick Ross with the shot of the championship in their Round of 32 match.
Through eight holes of the first-round thriller, Jeremiah held a 5-up advantage. But after a costly, lost tee ball on No. 9 (par 3, 230 yards) and a Ross eagle on No. 10 (par 4, 290 yards), that comfortable lead began to dwindle. Heading to Merion’s closing hole (par 4, 458 yards), Jeremiah was clinging on to just a 1-stroke edge over Ross, Monday’s stroke-play qualifying medalist.
It was there the Bidermann Golf Club member found the left rough with his drive, while Ross blasted driver down the fairway knowing he needed No. 18 to extend the match. The leader’s approach failed to reach the front of the green while Ross found the middle of the dance floor with a well-struck iron.
Then Jeremiah, being far, delivered the clinching blow. His 60-foot putt from distance rocked the bottom of the wicker basket and put Ross’ titles hopes to rest.
“Honestly, I was just trying to get it close,” said Jeremiah, 47, of West Grove, Pa. “When it was halfway there, I said to my caddie, ‘That’s going to be pretty good.’ It was only a matter of where it was going to stop. If it hadn’t hit the cup, I’d say it would have gone seven feet by. But instead it went in.”
Jeremiah, who earned the final spot of match play in a 6-for-2 playoff last night, says he is ready to match up with anyone in the field as long as “he can keep the golf ball straight and in play”.
In this afternoon’s Round of 16, Jeremiah will face off against the No. 16 seed Jay Whitby of Wild Quail Golf & Country Club.