It’s possible Benjamin Baxter was just being polite.
The 20-year-old Texas native and partner Andrew Buchanan wore New York Giants shirts on Tuesday at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Winged Foot. And the wardrobe choice apparently did not require a lot of arm-twisting.
“It’s my new favorite team,” said Baxter, who grew up a Cowboys fan.
The Southern Methodist University teammates are staying this week with Lynn and Frank Mara, the latter a longtime Winged Foot member who is the Giants’ vice president of community relations.
Baxter made a slippery 60-foot birdie on the 18th hole of the East Course before lunch to close out a 1-up Round of 16 win over Scott Shingler and Justin Young. The read came from trusted Winged Foot caddie Duane Cunningham.
It was spot on.
“He told me to putt up toward the tree,” Baxter said. “I saw the exact same line and I was just trying to die it on top of the hill and give (Andrew) maybe a somewhat more aggressive run. I saw the thing curling in there. It kept looking better and better and curled right in.”
The match was otherwise very stressful.
“Probably the only thing that we did well the whole day was chip and putt,” Buchanan said. “We kind of mid-amed the mid-ams. It was a blast out there.”
So when he returns home, will Baxter wear the Giants shirt?
“I’m definitely wearing it on Sundays,” he said.
Baxter and Buchanan went back out after getting a quick bite of lunch and dispatched Brandon Matthews and Patrick Ross 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals.
No repeat: Defending champions Nathan Smith and Todd White did not survive the Round of 16, falling 2 and 1 to Drew Allenspach and Matthew Van Zandt. Only four holes in the match were halved. Allenspach and Matthew went 1-up with a birdie on the 16th hole, then shook hands after Smith and White both took bogeys at the 17th hole.
The longest day: Garrett Rank and Patrick Christovich survived the Round of 16, outlasting Ted Gray and Travis Millman in 21 holes. They went the full 18 after lunch, posting a 1-up victory against University of Maryland teammates David Kocher and Connor Tendall, getting a birdie on the final hole. It was the first lead they held in the match.
“It’s always fun to birdie the last,” said Rank, who rolled in a six-footer from below the hole. “It was a grind for a while out there today, but we managed to pull it through.”
Christovich was happy to get off his feet Tuesday evening.
“I was joking with somebody earlier that they play 36 in all their college events,” he said. “Usually, if I’m playing 36, the last nine is an emergency scramble with transfusions in hand, and I’m certainly not playing against the caliber of those two guys.”
U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship
At Winged Foot – East Course
Round of 16
Brandon Matthews, Dupont, Pa. & Patrick Ross, Dunmore, Pa. d. Clark Engle, Springfield, Ohio & Will Grimmer, Cincinnati, Ohio 3 and 2; Benjamin Baxter, Highland Park, Texas & Andrew Buchanan, Los Altos, Calif. d. Scott Shingler, Haymarket, Va. & Justin Young, Roanoke, Va. 1-up; Patrick Christovich, New Orleans, La. & Garrett Rank, Canada d. Ted Gray, Phoenix, Ariz. & Travis Milleman, Phoenix, Ariz., 21 holes; David Kocher, Charlotte, N.C. & Connor Tendall, North Potomac, Md. d. Andrew Whalen, Ephrata, Wash. & Dylan Wu, Medford, Ore. 2 and 1; Otto Black, Pinckney, Mich. & Colin Joseph, Loveland, Ohio d. Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C. & Todd Mitchell, Bloomington, Ill. 2 and 1; Alex Buecking, Columbine Valley, Colo. & Jason Enloe, Dallas, Texas d. Frankie Capan, North Oaks, Minn. & Shuai Ming Wong, China 19 holes; Drew Allenspach, Louisville, Ky. & Matthew Van Zandt, Houston, Texas d. Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. & Todd White, Spartanburg, S.C. 2 and 1; Brandon Cigna, Arlington, Va. & Ben Warnquist, Olney, Md. d. Braden Baer, Westminster, Colo. & Cole Nygren, Longmont, Calif. 1-up.
Baxter & Buchanan d. Matthews & Ross, 2 and 1; Christovich & Rank d. Kocher and Tendall 1-up; Black & Joseph d. Buecking and Enlow 2-up; Cigna & Warnquist d. Allenspach & Van Zandt, 1-up.