I've put out feelers with those who would know better and have asked: where did the 2017 U.S. Amateur final rank with the great ones they recall. I'll get back to you on that but in the meantime, as far as events I've been lucky enough to cover, Doc Redman's win over Doug Ghim at Riviera will rank with any golf display I've seen.
Yes, it was the dreaded nobody-should-lose situations, as any 37 hole Amateur final would be appropriately labeled. No player was ever more than two up, and while there were a few loose shots, the quality of shotmaking and course management over a long, intense day was astounding.
The two closed morning play with a 31 (Redman) and 32 (Ghim), making them nine-under on the back nine before the lunch break.
But it's this that'll be talked about across the golfing landscape for sometime:
The most remarkable part? No one following the match all day was shocked by the eagle make to keep Redman alive and one down with one to go. I've never seen anyone make that many feet of putts at Riviera.
Oh, and the Western Amateur runner-up had never seen the course until this week and it was his first foray on kikuyu. Take that, local knowledge!
For now, just enjoy the game stories and coverage. (Sadly I see no replays on the Fox schedule for this instant classic.)
Ron Driscoll's game story at USGA.org covers all the nuts and bolts from an epic day.
GolfChannel.com's Ryan Lavner writes of Redman:
Little was known about the 19-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., until the recent Western Amateur, where he steamrolled the best field in amateur golf en route to the finals. In the championship match against Norman Xiong, Redman fell 4 down at the turn, but he chipped away at his deficit, lipped out a putt to win on the 18th hole and ended up taking Xiong to 22 holes before eventually falling.
“A lot less dramatic,” he said with a wry smile.
Golfweek's Brentley Romine tells us about Redman's background and recent golf spurt that has him now on the Walker Cup team.
For as good as Redman is in golf, he’s equally as brilliant, showing in interest in the stock market and securing a math internship at Clemson. Clemson assistant Jordan Byrd said after Redman came to him after his first semester and asked how he could get into the Honors College.
“No one’s ever asked that before,” Byrd said.
Tom Hoffarth in the LA Daily News with this on Ghim, who played beautifully:
Ghim said the fact neither could get apart from the other all morning and afternoon was “testament to how good we played. For most of the day we stepped up and executed. Whenever someone got in the lead we knew it was probably going to last for awhile unless we could pull off an incredible shot. Both guys were just waiting for a moment to maybe try to take a chance, but no one really wanted to because it was so risky.
“It was like a chess match … It was like a blinking contest. Who’s going to blink first?”
Mike James on how close the match was, filing this for the LA Times with a quote from UT's Ghim:
Four times in the first 18 holes, the players tied each other with birdies, including on the difficult 18th.
“I felt like every time we won a hole it was so significant because we weren't giving each other anything; nothing was easy,” said Ghim, 21, a senior at Texas. “Every hole that we won was super hard earned…. It was like do or die every time you had a chance.”
Their matching up-and-downs at the par-3 sixth:
And Redman's last hole birdie to send the match to sudden death.
Other fun stuff from the USGA, starting with the early morning highlights.
And the later day highlight reel that won't disappoint.
The full final round photo gallery includes some beauties from Chris Keane in a really nice gallery format.