Wedel's Brilliant Run Ends in U.S. Amateur Semifinals
Aug. 16, 2014
MALIBU, Calif. - Frederick Wedel's sensational week at the U.S. Amateur Championship extended to extra holes on Saturday morning, but the Pepperdine junior finally saw his tremendous run come to an end in the semifinals.
Wedel (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands HS) rallied on the 18th hole at the Atlanta (Ga.) Athletic Club to even his match, but Gunn Yang of San Diego State birdied the 19th hole to claim the victory and move on to the final.
"It's just been the most special week of my life," Wedel told the USGA and media after the semifinal. "There's been so much support, family and friends, and it's just been amazing."
Wedel entered the competition ranked 619th in the world in amateur golf. But he got through two rounds of stroke play (he shot a 1-over 144 to tie for 43rd place) at the start of the week, then defeated four straight competitors in match play. He beat ninth-seeded Carson Jacobs (5&4) in the Round of 64, Derek Bard (2&1) in the Round of 32, eighth-seeded Jimmy Mullen (2&1) in the Round of 16 and four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith (4&3) in the quarterfinals.
In most of those matches, Wedel went up early and maintained a lead throughout. He wasn't able to do that on Saturday, as Yang won the first two holes. Wedel eventually got the match back to all square on the seventh, and went 1 up on the eighth hole. He kept that small advantage for a few holes, but Yang won the 12th and 13rd to go back on top. That would be the only time Wedel would lead.
Wedel tied the match again on the 15th, but Yang went ahead again on the 17th. Needing to win the 18th hole to extend the match, Wedel did just that. Both players found a fairway bunker on the par-5 hole, but Yang put his next ball in the water, while Wedel blasted his shot within five feet of the hole. Yang conceded the eagle putt, and the match continued.
But after each player's second shot on the first extra hole, Wedel's ball ended up off the green, while Yang's shot landed about four feet of the cup. Wedel saved for par, but Yang made his birdie attempt to end the match.
Asked how the experience would make him a better player, Wedel said: "Well, I've been under the gun. I've had to hit a lot of big shots this week, make a lot of clutch putts. That's definitely experience you can't get anywhere else ... It will give me a lot to feed off on in the future. Maybe I can draw from the U.S. Amateur in future tournaments and events and just think to myself that, hey, I've been here before, and each time you are under the pressure of that, you're more likely to pull it off next time."
Thanks to his semifinal appearance, Wedel has earned an exemption back into the U.S. Amateur through 2016.
Wedel earned All-West Coast Conference honorable mention honors as a 2013-14 sophomore. He received an invitation to compete in NCAA Regional play as an individual. He wound up second on the team with a 73.42 scoring average, and had team bests of four top-10 results, six top-20 finishes and 11 below-par rounds.
Pepperdine has had an outstanding showing at the USGA's two biggest amateur events of the year. At last week's U.S. Women's Amateur Championship, the Waves' Grace Na made the quarterfinals and Liv Cheng reached the Round of 16.
Wedel and the rest of the Waves will open the 2014-15 season when they co-host the Southwestern Intercollegiate with USC at North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village, Calif., on September 8-9.