Erdy Returns to North and South Semis
Still tall with striking good looks and a wry smile, David Erdy looks no different than he did when he reached the final of the North and South Amateur a year ago.
But on the golf course? You may not recognize him.
Erdy, a recent graduate of Indiana and the 2011 North and South runner-up, advanced to his second straight semifinal with two wins in match play on Pinehurst No. 2 on Friday, dismantling his opponents with relative ease with a golf game quite a bit different than the one he came to Pinehurst with last year.
“My game feels a lot different from last year,” Erdy said. “I’ve had to deal with a few injuries. I was just kind of bombing it last year and just finding it wherever it went. This year I’m a little more under control. I feel smarter strategizing my way around the course. It’s been a lot more fun.”
The new approach is working.
After finishing tied for seventh after three rounds of stroke play at Pinehurst No. 8, Erdy blitzed through match play competition on the famed – and demanding – No. 2. He dispatched Trevor Cole 4 & 3 in the Round of 16 and then knocked off Thomas Sutton 5 & 3 in the afternoon to complete a dominating performance. Sutton, who advanced to match play after earning one of five spots in a 10-man playoff on Thursday, had upset second-seeded Michael Cromie in the morning match play.
The new Erdy, though, is as much mental as it is physical.
“I’ve matured,” he said. “I don’t have quite as many shots as last year. Definitely, though, my attitude is a lot better and my game is a lot better. It’s taking away a lot of the stress.”
Erdy has enlisted the help of Pinehurst caddie Mike Wilson for the second straight year. Wilson too is seeing the changes in Erdy.
“Mentally he’s a much better golfer,” Wilson said. “Many, many times over the last four or five days, he would hit a really bad shot or have a really bad hole, and then follow it up with a great hole. Last year, if he hit one bad shot, he’d hit three more bad shots after that.
“He’s not a bomb-it, 100-percent-with-everything guy anymore. He doesn’t want to hit the driver as far because he’s just trying to hit the fairways and let his mid-irons take over because he’s a great ball-striker.”
While anything can happen in match play – each surviving player in the semifinals has noted as such – Erdy seems to be on a collision course with North and South medalist Peter Williamson, the three-time Ivy League champion.
Williamson had to rally late to come back and beat 16th-seeded Bryson DeChambeau 2-up in the morning round, but was brilliant in the quarterfinals. Williamson, who said the close match gave him some extra motivation, did not have a bogey in eliminating eighth-seeded Finley Ewing IV 5 & 3 to advance to the semifinals.
“That was the round I’ve been waiting for,” Williamson said of the quarterfinal match. “I hit the ball a lot better today than (Thursday). This morning’s match was a really good push. That’s what I needed – to come down the stretch and test the golf swing. I hit a lot of really quality shots and kept applying pressure, which is what you need to do in match play.”
Williamson will now play Matt Ewald, who while at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., was ranked as the top NCAA Division-II golfer in the nation. A No. 4 seed, Ewald beat Clifford Blanquicet 4 & 3 in the Round of 16 before defeating 12th-seeded Ben Juffer in the quarterfinals.
Erdy will play sixth-seeded Thomas Bradshaw. The Clemson senior clipped N.C. State star Albin Choi 2-up in the quarterfinal round’s best match. Bradshaw, who had earlier beaten Case Gard 6 & 5 in the Round of 16’s most lopsided match, made par on the par-3 15th and then watched as Choi’s 6-foot putt for par on 18 slid by, leading to Choi’s conceding of the match.
“I’m pumped,” Bradshaw said of advancing to the semifinals. “I’m ready to get up (Saturday) and go. That said, I’m pretty tired right now.”
Despite Williamson’s consistent play throughout the championship, there’s no denying Erdy’s place in the field.
But Erdy isn’t buying it.
“Anyone can get hot, anyone can struggle a little bit,” Erdy said. “You just have to go out there and see what happens. Hopefully I’ll be standing there at the end.”
The North and South is the longest consecutive-running amateur golf championship in the United States today, now in its 112th year.
Over the past century, the best in the golf world have vied for its coveted Putter Boy Trophy. The winners now serve as legends in the game - Walter Travis, Billy Joe Patton, Jack Nicklaus, Curtis Strange, Corey Pavin, Davis Love II, among others. It continues to draw the best in amateur golf circles.
Alex Podlogar is the content and social media manager for Pinehurst Resort.
More like this story