Clemson teammates Ben Martin and Phillip Mollica both won two matches at the United States Amateur on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, OK.It marks the first time Clemson has had two golfers in the quarterfinals of the same US Amateur and it is the first time since 1993 that any Clemson golfer has reached the quarterfinals. Danny Ellis, who was a finalist in 1993, was the last Tiger to do it.
Martin defeated Chris Ward earlier in the day in 19 holes, then downed Nico Geyger of Chile and the hometown University of Tulsa golf program in the afternoon match, 2 &1. Mollica stopped 16-year-old Cameron Wilson of Connecticut in the morning 1-up, then defeated Mark Anderson of Beaufort, SC 1-up in a Clemson vs. South Carolina match in the afternoon. Mollica just finished his career at Clemson and Anderson just finished his career at South Carolina.
Martin will face David Lingmerth of Sweden in the quarterfinals on Friday. Lingmerth is a member of the University of Arkansas golf team and defeated Georgia Tech All-American Cameron Tringale on Thursday afternoon. Mollica faces Bhavik Patel of Bakersfield, CA, a member of the Fresno State golf team, on Friday.
Martin began his second round of the day with a birdie on the first hole when he rolled in a 30-foot putt. “I was just trying to get it close and it dropped in the front of the cup,” said Martin, who will be a senior at Clemson this year. “I had a similar putt in the first round of the day and the pins were not changed from the morning rounds, so that helped me.”
Martin went two-up when he made a five-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole. With a two-up lead, Martin was in position to take a commanding three-up lead on he par five fifth hole. Geyger was in a green side bunker in four and Martin was in good shape near the green in three. But Geyger holed the bunker shot for par and Martin could not get up and down and made bogey.
“You could feel the momentum change there. I was looking at going three-up, then I lost the hole after he made a great shot.”
Geyger won the seventh hole with a par and the eighth hole with a birdie to take one-up lead. He held that advantage until Martin squared the match with a birdie on the 13th hole. Martin hit a drive and a four iron to 12 feet and two putted for birdie on the par five hole.
Martin then took the lead for good on the 15th hole when he made par while his opponent made a bogey. Both players drove the ball into the trees on the 16th hole. Geyger had to chip out, but Martin had an opening.
“I had 220 yards to the green and had a little opening through the trees,” said Martin. “I hit the ball through that gap to within 12 feet of the pin. It was my shot of the day, no doubt.” Martin made par to go two up after 16.
The native of Greenwood, SC then clinched the match with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. He conceded Geyger’s birdie putt to win two-and one.
**From Clemson SID**