Former Clovis East High golf star Bryson DeChambeau is two victories away from the U.S. Amateur championship.
The reigning NCAA champ from SMU beat Ireland’s Paul Dunne 3 and 2 during Friday’s quarterfinals at Olympia Fields Country Club outside of Chicago to set up a semifinal showdown Saturday against Westlake Village’s Sean Crocker.
“I’m trying to keep the pedal to the metal and not letting my opponent have any opportunity to win a hole,” DeChambeau said. “And that's been my whole game plan this whole week going into match play. And I hope I can do that tomorrow.”
Dunne, a 2015 Alabama-Birmingham graduate, in July became the first amateur in 88 years to lead the British Open after 54 holes.
But DeChambeau went 2 up on Dunne with consecutive birdies on Nos. 6-7. Dunne cut the gap to one by winning No. 9 before DeChambeau pulled away by winning Nos. 11 and 13.
DeChambeau sensed victory after he followed Dunne’s 30-foot birdie putt with a 6-foot bird of his own on No. 15, knowing he only needed to tie one more hole to advance.
After each made par 4s on No. 16, the match was done.
“That was big, a big confidence booster for me going into the next hole knowing that I can get the job done on the next hole,” DeChambeau said.
Dunne is the second heavyweight DeChambeau has taken down in as many days following a 3-and-2 victory over NCAA Player of the Year Maverick Antcliff on Thursday.
“I know I can play with the best out there,” DeChambeau said. “And seeing that Paul was able to be in the lead going into the final round at the British was pretty incredible, and beating him today only gives me more belief that I can play with the best out there.”
DeChambeau and Crocker are to tee off at 6:20 a.m. PDT, with the winner advancing to face Japan’s Kenta Konishi or Derek Bard of New Hartford, N.Y., for the title Sunday. Crocker beat Canada’s Austin James 2 up.
Konishi beat Matthew Perrine 1 up, while Bard topped Spain’s Jon Rahm 1 up.
Crocker is a sophomore from USC.
“We talked a little bit on the range, and he’s an interesting character,” DeChambeau said. “But nice guy and … I’d love to play against him. It would be great.”