BANDON, Ore. – If the first 18 holes are any indication, we’re in for quite the U.S. Amateur finish.
SMU junior Ollie Osborne and Georgia Tech senior Tyler Strafaci combined to make 14 birdies in the first half of Sunday’s scheduled 36-hole final Sunday at Bandon Dunes, with Osborne clinging to a 1-up lead as they headed to lunch.
If the pair was playing best ball, the score would’ve been 12-under 60.
Osborne came out of the gates hot with birdies at each of the first three holes, making three putts around 15 feet, and taking a 2-up lead through five holes. After a three-putt bogey at the par-3 sixth, Osborne canned a 9-footer for another birdie at the par-4 seventh. He went to 3 up after a missed 10-footer for par by Strafaci at the par-4 eighth, though Strafaci birdied the ninth to trail 2 down at the turn.
That’s when Osborne started the back nine the same way he began the front: with three straight birdies. These were much closer – all inside of 8 feet – and Osborne won each of the holes to go 5 up.
But Strafaci, who said he practiced his lag putting for an hour last night just outside the Bandon clubhouse after a subpar day on the greens in the semifinals, won each of the next three holes. He lagged a 50-footer to set up birdie at 13, stuck one at 14 and went with the flatstick from 18 feet behind the par- 3 15th green to ensure a winning par.
At the next hole, the iconic short par-4 16th, Osborne pumped his drive almost onto the beach. He was able to get up and down, though, to halve the hole with Strafaci, who also made par from a difficult lie in the fairway bunker.
Strafaci sank an 8-footer for birdie at the penultimate hole and the players traded birdies at the par-5 18th to get to where we stand now. The second half will begin at 6:15 p.m. ET.
Osborne is trying to become the fifth SMU player to win the U.S. Amateur, following Hank Kuehne (1998), Colt Knost (2007), Kelly Kraft (2011) and Bryson DeChambeau (2015). Strafaci would be thee fourth winner from Georgia Tech, after Bobby Jones (1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930), Matt Kuchar (1997) and his former teammate Andy Ogletree (2019).
The last time a school has had two different players win consecutive Havemeyer Trophies? University of St. Andrew in Scotland, which had H.J. Whigham (1896-97) and Findley S. Douglas (1898) win back-to-back titles.