He was near Tinseltown, so it’s only fitting Blake Collyer put on a Hollywood finish.
The young Victorian appeared headed for a painful US Amateur exit, falling one stroke on the wrong side of the cut-line with a bogey followed by a double-bogey on the 14th and 15th holes at the famous Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.
But just like a classic movie script, the blond-headed hero wouldn’t lay down without a fight and with a stunning eagle-birdie finale up the 17th and 18th, Collyer rode into the matchplay phase without even needing to endure a playoff.
His drama capped another solid day for the record band of Australians at the world’s most prestigious amateur championship, although two West Australians might not share the same sentiment for a while.
Last year’s US Junior champ Min Woo Lee made a bogey up his last hole, the ninth at Riviera, to fall agonisingly on the wrong side of the four-over mark by a stroke, while his WA state teammate Kiran Day made two late bogeys to miss by two.
A foursome of Aussies advanced, though, with the red-hot Dylan Perry again leading the way.
Perry, runner-up at Britain’s The Amateur recently, again impressed with an impressive one-under par 69 – including a triple-bogey – at Bel Air Country Club, putting him at one-under overall and in a tie for 19th.
His fellow New South Welshman Travis Smyth made two early birdies at Riviera to give himself a nice buffer and, despite a few late bogeys, he advanced easily with a 72 to finish two-over.
At the same score and in a share of 35th, Queenslander Shae Wools-Cobb continued to cash in on his late call-up as an alternate with bookend birdies on his round at Riviera to shoot a 73 and move on comfortably after his opening 69 at Bel Air.
Forbes ace James Grierson played early today, so couldn’t have realised what the cut might be. But he’ll be ruing his inability to make one birdie today to capitalise on his opening 70, with a string of late bogeys consigning him to a 76 and a six-over total alongside Day in T-85.
Grierson’s NSW state teammate Harrison Endycott was always chasing after his opening 75 and eventually carded a fighting 72 at Bel Air only to miss out by three at seven-over.
Australian Amateur champ Matias Sanchez, of Melbourne, was another who couldn’t find a birdie and his 75 at Riviera left him at nine-over.
Sydney’s Ruben Sondjaja had a day he’d rather forget with an 80 at Riviera to finish at 12-over, while young Melburnian Karl Vilips couldn’t cash in on a couple of early birdies and fell away to a 78 after a quadruple-bogey on the eighth hole at Bel Air took the wind from his sails en route to a 14-over total.
Oklahoma’s Hayden Wood, the son of former US PGA Tour player Willie Wood, set a strokeplay record of nine-under par with a 67 at Bel Air after his 64 yesterday at Riviera, securing medallist honours by three strokes.
A 13-for-8 playoff for the final matchplay berths will be played early tomorrow at Riviera. The playoff, which doesn’t involved any of the Australians, will start on the driveable par-4 10th hole, followed by holes 14 through 18 with the 18th repeated as needed until the final spots are filled.
The knockout matchplay phase will begin soon after the field is set.