Hammer, Riley in Western Amateur final

Writing from Northfield, Illinois

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Cole Hammer needed 20 holes for the second straight morning, but he survived again, advancing to Saturday afternoon’s final match in the 116th Western Amateur at Sunset Ridge Country Club.

He’ll play Davis Riley, a 4 and 2 winner over Tyler Strafaci in the other semifinal, at 1:20 p.m.

Hammer, the 18-year-old Houston phenom who’ll start his career at Texas later this month, was 2-up on Brandon Wu after 11 holes,  but Wu birdied three straight holes to square the match, then rallied again on the 18th by rolling in an 18-footer for birdie after bogeying the par-3 17th.

Hammer won the match with an approach to about four feet on the par-4 second hole after Wu missed the fairway with his tee shot, missed the green with his approach, and was 40 feet from the pin with his third shot. The par-saving putt missed and it was handshake time.

Riley is a 21-year-old senior at Alabama who is gunning for his second straight victory in Illinois. He captured the Illini Invitational at Olympia Fields Country Club last year. It’s his fourth Western Am appearance and second Sweet Sixteen appearance, while this is Hammer’s second Western Am and first match-play placing.

Tim Cronin

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