Date: August 14, 2019
Author: Mark Hayes

Stunning Vilips scythes through #USAm field

A spectacular bounceback by Karl Vilips has highlighted a wild second day for the Aussie contingent at the US Amateur Championship today.

A back-nine 43 at Pinehurst No.2 on day one left Vilips to start day two at seven over and in need of urgent birdies on the No.4 course for the final round of stroke play.

And the Florida-based West Australian, champion at last year’s Youth Olympics in Argentina, delivered in spades.

Vilips, who will soon be confirmed to play in his second Junior Presidents Cup on the International team, lit up with four front-nine birdies, then capped it with another on the closing hole to card a day’s best five-under-65 against the world’s best amateurs.

Remarkably – with some in the field still to complete their second rounds after mid-afternoon lightning swept across North Carolina – Vilips vaulted all the way up to a share of 18th to guarantee himself a match play start in the top 64. His was one of only 19 complete rounds, on either course, to be recorded on day two and left him at two over par in total.

But while Vilips, New South Welshman Blake Windred (74 on No.2 for +1 total and currently T12) and Queenslander Jack Trent (76 on No.2 for +4 total and currently T46) can sleep easy, their compatriot Jordie Garner will be excused if he misses a few winks tonight.

Garner, a member at Castle Hill in north-west Sydney, completed his round in style, but, at five over in total, is on what shapes as the potential playoff number for the final match play berths.

The catch for Garner is that he’s far from guaranteed of that plan coming to fruition, needing at least two of the players still on course at four over or better to fall back tomorrow in their closing holes.

The good news is that Pinehurst No.2 is playing its typically beastly self – and six of the players still on at +3 or +4 are on the famous layout, which at 6760m and a par of 70, is averaging more than seven strokes over par at 77.04 this week.

“Just give me a chance. All I want is a chance,” Garner said in typically enthusiastic fashion.

“I don’t care if there is a two (players) for a 1000 playoff, just let me be in it.”

Garner’s chances of that ebbed and flowed throughout his round after starting on the 11th tee of No.2.

He made three bogeys in four holes from the 15th to push him to six over in total after his opening-day 73. Another blemish on the fourth likely had him packing his bags during the hour-long weather delay.

But the mercurial NSW state team player, with good mate Nathan Barbieri on his bag, returned full of his usual fire and birdied the seventh and ninth to push back to the brink of qualification.

“I thought a par-five to finish (the 10th) would be great and I was just in front of the green for two and got a pretty good result from a not-so-great chip to be honest, so I had a chance to get to four (under) with about a 10-footer,” he said.

“I hit a good putt, but it snapped across the hole late and … now I’m just waiting until the morning to see what happens.”

Victorian David Micheluzzi is one of those yet to complete his round, but the World No.3 has the wind almost completely out of his sails, needing an eagle up the long par-four last to have any chance of making the possible playoff.

“The scoreboard says I’m at six (over), but I’m actually on seven, so it’s going to need a miracle, really,” said Micheluzzi, who was behind the eightball after an opening 75 on No.2.

“I just haven’t had it the past few days and today was sort of typical, actually. I hit some good ones (four birdies), but also some shockers (a double-bogey on the seventh) and … it doesn’t look good now.”

Sydney-based Canberran Josh Armstrong is the only Aussie who knows his week’s final fate after a second-round 73 on No.4 left him at nine over in total and currently T136.