Doc Redman miraculously wins 2017 U.S. Amateur over Doug Ghim
It's all over at Riviera and the Clemson Tiger sophomore is your champ
It doesn't get much better than what took place at iconic Riviera Country Club in the 117th U.S. Amateur on Sunday afternoon. Doug Ghin and Doc Redman battled for 37 holes for the Havemeyer Trophy in a match those who watched will be talking about for a long time.
In the first 18 holes of the 36-hole match of the U.S. Amateur final, Ghin shot a 67 but Redman clipped him by one with a 66 and held a 1 up lead going into the final 18. The two were a combined 8 under on the back nine, which was a harbinger for what was to come in the afternoon session.
Ghin did not lead from the 13th hole on until he made a birdie on the 29th to go 1 up. It looked for a bit like he would run away with it as he went 2 up with two holes to play with a par at the 34th. Then it got fun.
Ghim hit an unbelievable 3-wood into the par-5 16th hole and chased it up the fairway. He knew he'd flushed it, and you have to think he thought the match was over. All he needed was to split one of the next two holes for the win. It bumped the front of the green and blew through it to the back edge. From there, he hit a nice chip and had a good look for a birdie that would presumably close out the match as he just needed to match Redman's score, and Redman was 60 feet away for eagle.
That's when Redman ran home an impossible 60-footer to go 1 down going to the 36th, Riviera's famous closing hole.
Incredibly, Redman pumped another iron to within striking distance. He hit a slick fade around the trees that frame the right side of the green on No. 18 and stuck it to 10 feet. And of course, because apparently hitting the greatest shots of your life on one of the best courses in America with the national championship on the line is not a big deal to him, he made it.
The crazy part? He walked the thing in!
Ghim made a mess of the first playoff hole and conceded before Redman even had a chance to putt. He went from 2 down with two holes left to the U.S. Amateur champion in three remarkable holes.
"I think it was obviously very gutsy," Redman said of the final stretch. "It was about never giving up and believing in myself. You never know what can happen. It's awesome. All the hard work has been paying off obviously. I think it's great for everyone around me too who has been helping me out. It's their win, too. It's surreal."
Both players presumably get into the 2018 Masters, which softens the blow a bit for Ghim, who had his father on the bag all week. But his shock was apparent over those final three holes. It was over. And then it wasn't. Such is life in match play world.
"Just the way it goes sometimes," he said. "What can I say? Doc played so well coming down the stretch. We weren't really giving each other anything all day. We worked for everything. Unfortunately, I just didn't come out on the winning end, but I have a lot to learn and a lot to cherish from this week.
"It was do or die for him and he did it. I mean, I'm still proud of what I did. Like I said, just unfortunate didn't end the way I wanted it to."
The do-or-die nature of match play for amateurs who may never have a shot at this championship again is what makes the drama so thrilling, of course. Ghim looked to be in complete control, but Redman stretched around his tenacious defense coming home and grabbed the trophy.
Redman almost didn't even make it into the match play portion of the event. He had to make it through a 13-for-8 playoff on Wednesday morning to even get into the round of 64. Then he rolled off wins against Logan Lowe, Walker Lee, John Oda, Travis Smyth and Mark Lawrence Jr. just to get to Ghim.
It was an all-time U.S. Amateur match that neither player should be ashamed about losing. Ghim shot 67-68 at this course with the whole world on the line and got snipped in a playoff. That's something to be proud of.
As for Redman, he'll take a big gold trophy back to Clemson to share with his teammates as he heads into his sophomore year. And then next April, he'll tee it up at Augusta National as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. Maybe he and Ghim can share a practice round together and talk about the magic they made that one day in August at Riviera.
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