PARAMUS, N.J. – Ricky Castillo was momentarily a twisted mess.
Moments after watching a six-foot putt for par slide past the hole, the 21-year-old Californian was lamenting the loss of a 1-up edge and contorting on the 18th tee at Ridgewood Country Club while a wayward drive flirted with trees well down the left side Wednesday in a Round of 64 match at the U.S. Amateur.
The ball narrowly stayed inbounds.
Castillo was forced to punch out short of the green, then calmly got up and down while Ludvig Aberg left his third in a greenside bunker then drew a miserable lie short side in the fescue once he did escape.
“That was pretty scary,” Castillo said of the late drama in a 1-up victory. “My ball on 18 was less than an inch inbounds and I took advantage of it, made a good par. It’s not the way you want to see it end, but it was a really well-fought match. We both played really well. It’s a tough golf course, fast greens, thick rough. It was a fun match.”
U.S. Amateur: Scoring
Avoiding the long grass is a high priority for the rest of the week.
“I think everyone is going to have a pretty similar strategy,” said Castillo, a senior at Florida who was 1 down until he rattled off wins at 14 and 15. “Just hit fairways, hit greens. That’s kind of the only way you’re going to play well out here. It’s pretty hard to play well out of the rough just because it’s so thick, and the greens are really firm and fast. … Yeah, staying patient is definitely a big key out here.”
Next up is a Round of 32 match against University of Oregon senior Owen Avrit.
Reality was just beginning to sink in when Josh Gliege admitted he never thought advancing beyond the Round of 64 was a possibility until Pietro Bovari missed a short and slippery putt on the 18th hole. The 24-year-old assistant golf coach at Wichita State got up and down from a short-side bunker on the 18th hole then watched his opponent fall victim to a late momentum swing.
“It was unbelievably stressful, especially because I haven’t done it in a while,” said Gliege, a native of Pocatello, Idaho. “It’s fun, but man it does take a toll on you. I never led until right there on the 18th green. He was 3-up through 11 and I won 12 and won 16, 17 and 18.”
Bovari, a 21-year-old from Italy who plays at Virginia, was in disbelief when his final putt failed to fall.
“I hit a terrible drive on 12 that went in the adjacent fairway, but got it up and down for birdie to win the hole,” Gliege said. “He missed a little short one at 16. I asked, ‘God, give me a little gift here and he did, thankfully.’ I said, ‘OK, I have a chance, he’s listening.’ I had a good feeling there.
“I did think a little about where this could go because it’s a fun thing to do, but I didn’t expect to make match play. I didn’t expect to win today. I just keep looking around saying, ‘This is cool,’ and was just kind of enjoying the moment. It’s fun to be here.”
Gliege is carrying his own bag.
“I kind of caddie for a living, I mean, I’m an assistant golf coach, so I’m used to it,” he said. “And I half-joke that I have enough thoughts running through my head, I don’t need somebody else’s. I just like being alone out there.”
Von Lossow makes a statement
Michael Thorbjornsen was coming into the U.S. Amateur hot and ranked among the favorites to win here. The 20-year-old Stanford junior tied for medalist honors Tuesday and got the No. 2 seed, but Andrew Von Lossow derailed that momentum in the Round of 64, posting a 3-and-2 win.
The 34-year-old graphic designer from Spokane, Washington, has a colorful personality. He let an early lead get away, but held steady and recaptured control with wins at 10, 11 and 12.
“That was awesome, playing Michael,” said Von Lossow, who also played in the U.S. Amateur Four Ball. “First time meeting him, I had heard about him, and I know he’s a great player. Then, seeing how he hits the ball and everything, it was awesome. … I didn’t hit every fairway, but I could muscle a few out of the rough. Then my caddie, he caddies here, Brian Roth, and he got me in the right spots around the greens.
“These are majors for me. The course condition, the setup, how the events are run, it’s just world-class. And then you’ve got the world-class competition, as well. It gets the juices going.”
It’s unclear if another fashion statement will be made in the Round of 32.
“This is my loudest shirt,” Von Lossow said. “I don’t know, maybe I’ll go red shorts or something. I don’t know if it’s turning into a signature thing. I might go a little brighter. My all-time favorite outfit is the milkman. It’s all white. But I don’t know if that’s going to come out.”
A number of upsets rattled the bracket.
Gordon Sargent, a 19-year-old sophomore at Vanderbilt who won the 2022 NCAA individual championship fell to Ford Clegg, a 22-year-old who played at Mississippi State, in 21 holes. Luke Gutschewski, a sophomore at Iowa State, had the top seed after tying for medalist honors was also sent home, falling in 20 holes to Purdue senior Peyton Snoeberger.
No soup for you
Mark Costanza was among the 15 players up early for a playoff to determine the last 11 players in the bracket. The 33-year-old from Morristown, New Jersey, grew up minutes away from Ridgewood and was hoping to extend his stay in the old neighborhood. He rolled in a 25-foot birdie to close out stroke play on Tuesday, but a bogey interrupted his run.
The only member of the Seinfeld grouping featured in match play still in play is University of Kentucky junior Campbell Kremer, who dispatched Josh Hill 2 and 1 in the Round of 64. Oklahoma State senior Hazen Newman was sent home, losing his match to Shea Lague in 21 holes.
“They’re all really good,” 31-year-old Stewart Hagestad said of the next generation of talent. “You look up and down the range at some of these guys and you’re looking at a group of players that is going to play on, I guess you have to say whatever Tour they decide to at this stage in the game. … These guys are going to play professional golf and play in some big events for a long, long time. Just to kind of be around them, I think it inspires me to kind of raise my game and to rise to the occasion.”
Mike Dougherty covers golf for The Journal News and lohud.com. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @lohudgolf.