N&S 'Final Four' Set: Fields vs. Schneider, Erdy vs. Benjamin
The semifinals of the 111th Men's North & South Amateur Championship are set.
Southern Pines' Jack Fields (No. 10) will take on Brad Schneider (No. 27) this afternoon in one semifinal, while Brad Benjamin (No. 4) will face David Erdy (No. 24).
A birdie on the par-5 16th proved to be the difference maker for Fields in his quarterfinal match with 1988 champion Uly Grissette. Fields won the hole with a two-putt birdie from about 22 feet just past pin high from the fringe. His approach to the par 5 missed left of the front left flag, flirting with the greenside bunker.
“I was aiming for the middle of the green on that shot, trying to work a hard draw and pulled it a little bit,” said Fields. “The result worked out fine tough, leaving me a manageable uphill eagle putt."
The duo both made pars on 17 and 18 to complete the match, with Fields winning one-up.
“Walking to the 17th tee box was a new feeling for me,” Fields said, “because my previous matches have all been fairly easy, so I had not really put myself in that type situation before in this championship.
“I just told myself, ‘two more holes, let’s make two pars and force him to make a birdie to beat us.’ Luckily I was able to get it done.”
On 17, Fields missed the green long and chipped to about four feet before making what he called “definitely a knee-knocker" to maintain his 1 up lead. Meanwhile Grissette had to make a three footer to force an 18th hole.
“When that par putt (on 17) dropped, it made me feel really good,” said Fields.
Fields sprayed his tee shot right on 18, but got a kick from the trees out into a good lie in the hardpan. From there he hit an approach, from 198 yards, to the middle of the green that landed short and left of the flagstick. His birdie putt was well inside Grissette’s.
After Grissette missed, Fields cozied his putt into gimmie range prompting Grissette to concede the putt as the pair tied the hole and advanced Fields on to the semifinals.
“I got a good break on my drive and had a perfect number on my approach. From 198-yards (out), I knew I could hit a 6-iron pretty hard without it going over the green.
“So I just got in there, made a good swing, hit it right where I was aiming — 15-feet left of the pin — and it ended up right where I wanted it.”
Grissette, the No. 31 seed, birdied the par-3 15th to tie things up heading into the final three holes.
Fields made a six-footer for par to maintain his one hole lead on the 14th. A bogey on 12 had cut his lead to one.
“Looking back on it, (the par on 14) was a pretty big moment," he said. "I hit a terrible wedge shot long left (of the flag), which is the only place you can’t hit it. Then I hit a terrible approach putt to about 12 feet.
“The ball broke down the hill left to right and just snuck in the left side for my par,” Fields said, “and that was huge I needed that.
Fields made birdie on the par-4 11th to push his lead back to two. Grissette, the No. 31 seed, had a birdie on the par-5 10th while Fields made par.
Fields sank a birdie putt on the par-3 ninth to give him a two-hole advantage at the turn. Fields jumped out to a lead with a par save on the first while Grissette made bogey. A birdie on the par-5 fourth stretched the lead to two, but Fields gave it back with a bogey on the difficult par-4 5th.
“I got off to a pretty good start,” said Fields. I was 2 up through four holes and figured it was going to be a cruise like it has been. But Uly (Grissette) played well – he started making some really good pars with some birdies thrown in there."
On the other side of the bracket, defending champion and top seed Donald Constable's bid at back-to-back titles fell short. Erdy topped Constable 5 and 4.
In the other quarterfinal matches, fourth-seeded Brad Benjamin defeated No. 37 seed Preston Dembowiak 3 and 2
No. 27 seed Brad Schneider defeated No. 14 seed Barrett Kelpin one up.
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