BROOKLINE, Mass. – With an outstanding effort on his back nine, University of Houston sophomore Blair Hamilton claimed a 4&2 victory against No. 16 seed Richy Werenski during the First Round of match play at the U.S. Amateur Championship at The Country Club.
Hamilton, who will be a sophomore with the Cougars in the fall, won four of the seven holes played on the back nine to seal the win and become the first Cougar since Andy Sanders advanced to the quarterfinals in 1999 to win in match play at the U.S. Amateur Championship.
With the match All Square at the turn, Hamilton drained a birdie on the 473-yard, par-4 10th hole and then made par on the 11th, while Werenski posted a bogey for a 2 up lead. Both players made pars on No. 12 and No. 13 before Hamilton grabbed a 3-up lead with four holes to go, thanks to a par on the tough 505-yard, par-4 14th hole.
After trading pars on the 15th hole, Hamilton clinched the win and ended the match with a birdie on the 159-yard, par-3 16th hole.
“I am having a blast. You have to enjoy playing high-level, competitive golf,” Hamilton said following the round. “I love golf and that’s why I work so hard at it. You have to enjoy the walk.”
“Blair took less club off the tee but consistently put the ball in the fairway. If you miss the fairway on this course, you are going to lose the hole,” said Houston associate head coach Chris Hill, who is serving as Hamilton’s caddy this week. “Blair hit the fairways, and his speed on the greens in the afternoon was just phenomenal.”
Playing as the No. 49 seed, Hamilton played as the underdog from the beginning. A native of nearby South Hadley, Mass., Werenski enjoyed a gallery of approximately 100 people throughout the day.
Hamilton handled the pressure quickly winning each of the first two holes before giving up one with a bogey on the 434-yard, par-4 third hole.
“Things went really well. We got off to a hot start, which was nice. Winning the first two holes put me in a groove,” Hamilton said. “We knew it was going to be a tough day out there, but we kept to our game plan and hit comfortable shots.”
“Blair was nervous this morning as you should be at a USGA event like this,” Hill said. “He stepped up, hit the first fairway, then hit the first green and made a great par on No. 1. He got into a routine and settled down, and it just kept rolling.”
After both players made pars on No. 5 and No. 6, Werenski made the match all square on the sixth hole with a par, and the score remained that way through the rest of the front nine.