Despite battling all afternoon against No. 33-ranked Zach Murray in the first round of match-play at the U.S. Amateur, ETSU rising sophomore Jack Rhea (Jonesborough, Tenn.) could not extend his stay at Pebble Beach another day.
After landing his second shot 20-feet of the hole on the par-5, 18th, Rhea needed to sink the eagle putt to extend the match. Unfortunately, Rhea suffered a heartbreaking moment as his eagle putt lipped out, resulting in Murray winning the match, 1-up.
Rhea, who advanced to match play after finishing tied for 10th in the 36-hole stroke play event, never trailed by more than one hole all afternoon. After dropping the par-4, 513-yard No. 2, the Jonesborough, Tenn. native bounced back with a birdie putt on the par-3, 180-yard No. 5 to pull even. From there, Murray went back up one by posting a birdie on the following hole; however, Rhea continued to keep his composure and registered a birdie on No. 7 and then a par on No. 9 to take his first lead of the match.
Rhea was then 1-up heading to the tee box on the par-4, 448-yard No. 13, but Murray posted consecutive birdies on No. 13 and 14 to go back ahead. Like he did all afternoon, Rhea continued to battle and pulled all-square following a par on the 394-yard, 15th. After both golfers halved the par-4, 402-yard 16th, Murray took the lead for good after making a birdie putt on the par-3, 17th.
Rhea did not go down without a fight, but after Murray made his birdie putt on No. 18, the Buccaneer standout needed to drain his 20-foot eagle attempt. Rhea’s line was spot on, but as the ball hit the left edge of the cup, it dropped and then lipped out – giving Murray the win.
ABOUT THE U.S. AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP (Courtesy of USGA.org)
The U.S. Amateur Championship is the oldest USGA championship and it was created in 1895 because of a controversy. In 1894, two clubs — Newport (R.I.) Golf Club and New York’s St. Andrew’s Golf Club — had conducted invitational tournaments to attract the nation’s top amateur players.
Both clubs proclaimed their winners as the national champion, while Charles Blair Macdonald, a prominent player and course architect, was the runner-up in both.
Before the final day of the St. Andrew’s tournament, it was announced that an association composed of all the clubs in the United States would be formed in the ensuing months. This new national governing body would oversee a universally recognized championship and create a written set of rules.
With that, representatives from Newport Golf Club, St. Andrew’s Golf Club, The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., and Chicago Golf Club founded the USGA on Dec. 22, 1894, and the inaugural U.S. Amateur Championship was conducted the following year, along with the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Amateur.
The Amateur and Open Championships were conducted at Newport Golf Club during the same week of October and Macdonald became the first U.S. Amateur champion.
Since the inaugural event, the U.S. Amateur has enjoyed an illustrious history of great champions, including Bob Jones, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods. In 1930, Jones completed his Grand Slam by winning the U.S. Amateur at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. Woods, in 1996, became the first to win three consecutive Amateur titles.