Indian-American golfer Aman Gupta's amazing run at the 120th US Amateur Championships came to an end after he went down fighting against higher-ranked Tyler Strafaci in the semifinals at Bandon Dunes here. The 21-year-old Gupta had fallen behind by four holes after 10 holes but put up a great fight in the closing stages of his semi-final against Strafaci.
Four down with six holes to go, Gupta went on a superb run, winning four holes in the next five to tie the match on the 17th green but conceded the match after mssing a bogey putt in the final hole. In a dramatic finish, Gupta and Trafaci hit wayward tee shots on par-5 18th. Gupta went into the bunker on the right of the fairway. Trying to get out of the bunker with an 8-Iron, the ball hit the lip and stayed in the bunker and his next shot with a pitching wedge also caught the bunker face.
He was finally on the green in five but failed to make a 20-foot bogey putt. On the other hand, Strafaci's second shot from left rough was just off the green and he pitched to 15 feet. Gupta missed his bogey putt and conceded the match. Gupta, who got into the field last Friday when world No. 2 Ricky Castillo withdrew, said, "I knew going in Ty was going to be a tough competitor. Doesn't make a lot of mistakes. I mean, he rolls it well, so I knew it was going to be a good day. I didn't quite hit it as well as I wanted to all day, but I put up as good of a fight as I could on the back nine."
Gupta said he will take a lot of confidence from his performance. "I've known and my coach (Alan Bratton, who was his caddie) has known for a while that I was good enough to do this. I'm just going to take a lot of confidence and know that I'm one of the best players in the world and it's time to start playing like it." Strafaci played five-over in the seven-hole stretch from 11th to 17th after back-to-back winning birdies gave him a 4-up lead through 10 holes.
"Aman made some great shots down the stretch. But at the same time, you're still thinking, 'Why did I just give up a 4-up lead? when you're in complete control. It's tough," Strafaci said. For Strafaci, a Georgia Tech fifth-year senior, it was the third consecutive day he went the distance. In the Round of 16, his opponent, Segundo Olivia Pinto's caddie touched the sand and was penalised the hole to lose the match; and then in the quarter-final Strafaci had to make a three and a half foot par putt to beat Stewart Hagestead on the 18th.
The win earned Strafaci a spot in next year's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines as well. He is the grandson of 1935 US Amateur Public Links champion Frank Strafaci Sr. He will face Southern Methodist University rising junior Charles Osborne, 20, in Sunday's 36-hole championship match. Osborne, who also earned a berth in the 2021 US Open, eliminated 58th seed Matthew Sharpstene, 22, 4 and 2.