Locals, Defending Champ Ousted
If today's quarterfinal round of the 108th North and South Amateur is anything like the previous four days, there will be plenty of fireworks.
One thing is for sure, there will be a new champion, and he won't be one of the local favorites.
Defending champ Phillip Mollica of Clemson and the two local favorites, Kelly Miller and Robert Riesen, bowed out of the tourney in the first round of match play Wednesday.
Golfers played two rounds Thursday to pare the field to the final eight. For complete coverage and results of the tournament, go online to www.ThePilot.com.
Wednesday Duke's Adam Long defeated top seed Mollica on the 21st hole. Long was one of 12 players that made it into match play via a playoff late Tuesday afternoon.
The agony of defeat was evident as caddie Blair Miller almost did a 360 spin as his father's potential tying chip shot slid around the cup on the 18th hole at Pinehurst No. 2 Wednesday afternoon.
Kelly Miller's missed putt signaled the end of the North and South for the 49-year-old President and CEO of Pine Needles. University of Michigan player Bill Rankin ousted Miller, who was one of 11 players to shoot par or better in the two rounds of stroke play.
"I don't know how it stayed out," Kelly Miller said moments later. "It went right over the edge and stopped this much (fraction of an inch) behind it. It would have been fun to play another and see what happened."
Riesen, a rising senior at UNC, was involved in another battle between ACC players, losing his close match to the No. 3 seed, Cameron Tringale of Georgia Tech.
Tringale took a 3-up lead after making about a 40-foot putt on the par-3 ninth hole. By the time Riesen stopped the bleeding, he was 5-down going to 13. The only hole he didn't win before closing to 1-down going to 18 was the 16th where he missed a 2-foot putt for birdie.
Both were looking at about 20-foot birdie putts from below the pin on 18. They missed their birdie attempts and made par, ending the match.
"I just pushed it," Riesen said of the birdie try that ended a gallant comeback. "I was pushing putts all day. I probably should never have been that far behind in the first place."
There were a couple of matches Wednesday involving notable players that were not close. Jamie Lovemark, the stroke play medalist who plays for Southern Cal, defeated James Gill 7 and 5. Two-time champion Paul Simson of Raleigh, the oldest player in the match play field at 57, exchanged handshakes with his opponent on the 12th green after closing out a 7 and 6 victory.
Rankin summed up the day, following his match with Miller.
"It's such a test of every part of your game," he said. "You just have to be so precise with your irons, and it takes so much imagination, which is really the spirit of the game."
Contact Charlie Bergmann by e-mail at email@example.com.
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