ROLAND, Ark. – A thrilling comeback to start the day and a dominating performance to end it summed up Saturday’s 35-hole performance by University of Arkansas senior-to-be Sebastian Cappelen who advanced to the semifinals of the 111th Western Amateur Championship with a pair of match play wins at The Alotian Club.
In the morning round, No. 10 seed Cappelen faced a 2-down deficit with just three holes to play, but put together clutch back-to-back birdies to force extra holes where he defeated Alabama freshman-to-be Robby Shelton IV with a birdie on the 20th hole to advance to the quarterfinals. After a brief break, Cappelen returned to the course to take on Carlos Ortiz and never trailed, defeating the No. 2 seed, 4 & 3.
Cappelen’s pair of wins puts him in the semifinals against No. 3 seed Jordan Niebrugge, the U.S. Public Links Champion. Niebrugge defeated No. 14 seed Taylor Gooch, 4 & 3, in the first round and No. 11 seed Seth Reeves, 3 & 1, in the quarterfinals. Sunday’s semifinal tee time is slated for 8:15 a.m.
The semifinal winners will square off in an 18-hole championship immediately following their first match on Sunday. Live in-progress scoring can be found at www.TheWesternAmateur.com or by following @RazorbackMGolf on twitter.
Cappelen jumped out to a fast start in his morning match with birdies on the first three holes and held a 2-up lead through seven. Shelton IV rallied by winning three of the next four holes and held a 2-up lead on Cappelen with just three to play. The 2013 SEC Champion and two-time Palmer Cup participant didn’t fold, responding with back-to-back birdies on the par 3, 16th hole and the par 5, 17th to even the match. A par by both players on the 18th forced extra holes. A pair of birdies on the par 5, 1st hole pushed the match to the 2nd where Cappelen made his fourth birdie in the final five holes to complete the comeback.
Momentum certainly hung with Cappelen when he returned for his quarterfinal match with Ortiz, as he opened with a birdie and followed with four straight pars to take a commanding 3-up lead through the first five holes. Over the stretch of the final five holes of his first round match and the first five of his quarterfinal, Cappelen won six holes, playing five-under par.
Cappelen’s lead grew to 4-up after back-to-back birdies on the par 5, 8th hole and par 4, 9th hole before he put Ortiz away on the 15th with his sixth birdie of the match, including his third straight.
Over the 35 holes on the day, Cappelen carded 14 birdies, including two stretches of three in a row and three others of the back-to-back variety. He also only made bogey on back-to-back holes one time.
Sophomore-to-be Taylor Moore was the second Razorback that advanced through the four rounds of stroke play and into the 16-man match play tournament. Moore was defeated by No. 5 seed David Snyder, 5 & 3.
Founded in 1899, the Western Amateur is regarded as one of the major amateur events in the world with Cappelen trying to join past winners such as Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The field started with 156 players, including 54 of the world’s top 100, from 10 nations. This year marks the first time the Western Amateur has been held in state of Arkansas and the first time since 1966 it has been played in the south. Only the British Amateur (1855) and the U.S. Amateur (1895) are older than the Western Amateur.