Cantlay, Kraft to battle for U.S. Amateur crown
Erin, WI (Sports Network) - Patrick Cantlay and Kelly Kraft won their semifinal matches on Saturday to set up Sunday's 36-hole final at the U.S. Amateur Championship.
Cantlay, who was both the NCAA player and freshman of the year, took down Jordan Russell, 4 & 3, in the first semifinal match at Erin Hills Golf Course.
Kraft ousted Jack Senior, 3 & 2, in the other match. The 21-year-old Kraft was a three-time first team all-conference player at SMU and was runner-up last summer at the prestigious North & South Amateur.
Cantlay, who posted four top-25 finishes this summer on the PGA Tour and fired a 60 at the Travelers Championship, and Russell had a see-saw match early on, before Cantlay took charge. Cantlay won the first with a birdie, but bogeyed the second to square the match. The pair traded bogeys over the next four holes, two for each player.
The 19-year-old Cantlay, a semifinalist at this championship last year, grabbed the lead for good with a birdie on the long par-five seventh. Both players made a mess of the eighth with Cantlay winning the hole with a bogey.
"It was very back and forth at the beginning. I think we traded holes the first seven holes, and then, you know, I made bogey on 8, but it was enough to win, and that kind of got me started," Cantlay said. "I just tried to play solid golf from there on out and hit smart shots."
After they matched pars on nine and 10, Russell tripped to another bogey on the 11th to fall 3-down. Cantlay, who will play on the U.S. Walker Cup team in September, pushed his margin to 4-up when he birdied the 14th. The match was over when they both birdied the 15th.
"Really back and forth early on," Russell explained. "Once Patrick got the momentum, he just played like he always does. He did a really good job of just playing consistent, and it was really hard. I wasn't giving myself many chances, so he just played really solid and closed it out like he should have."
Senior, who will play on Great Britain & Ireland's Walker Cup team next month, took the first with a conceded birdie, but that was his only lead. He bogeyed the second to square the match and also bogeyed the third to fall 1-down.
Kraft was conceded the fifth, but stumbled to a bogey on the ninth to cut his lead back to 1-down. Senior bogeyed the 10th and Kraft followed with a birdie on No. 11 to push his margin to 3-up.
Senior birdied the 12th, but Kraft responded with an eagle on the par-five 14th to again move 3-up. They matched pars on 15 and 16 to give Kraft the win.
"You know, when you get on a roll putting kind of like I did today, it just feels like you're going to make every 15, 20-footer that you look at," said Kraft. "So it's pretty easy then."
The 36-hole final starts at 9:30 a.m. (et) with the second 18 slated to begin at 2:15 p.m.
08/27 15:13:29 ET