MIDWAY — One of the more intriguing matches of the first day of match play was between Chris Williams and Alex Williams.
No, they're not related, but this past season Alex Williams was an assistant coach at the University of Washington, where Chris Williams was the star golfer.
Chris came into the Public Links as the highest rated golfer in the field — No. 2 in the world amateur rankings, but it was his old coach who got the better of him with a come-from-behind 2 and 1 victory Wednesday afternoon.
Alex has moved on from the U. of Washington and now works at a golf course in Vancouver, Wash., but he still said it was tough playing against his old pupil. He acknowledged that he was "apprehensive" and "scared" going into the match and added, "I wasn't expecting to win."
He also said, "You don't want to play a match like that until the finals."
Alex was also a little sheepish about a couple of "lucky" shots, one at No. 14 that turned into a birdie and a 220-yard 7-iron at the par-3 17th hole, which ended up 12 feet away and turned into the winning birdie putt.
The 25-year-old Alex is a pretty good golfer himself. He played at Oregon State for four years and last year made it to the round of 32 at the Publinks and just missed making match play at the U.S. Amateur.
CALIFORNIA DOMINATES: Of the 64 players that made it to match play, four were from San Diego and another from nearby Del Mar. In all, 15 of the 64 were from California, with six from Florida and five from Illinois.
Also, two players who made it to match play and won their first matches Wednesday both hail from Clovis, Calif., a city of 95,000 just north of Fresno.
Bryson Dechambeau and Derek Ernst know each other from local golf events though they are four years apart. Ernst was last year's finalist, losing in 37 holes to Corbin Mills, while Dechambeau just finished high school and will enroll at SMU in the fall.
TIMELY WIND: After two days of hot temperatures, it wasn't quite as bad for the first round of match play Wednesday.
Cloud cover kept it in the 80s and it even sprinkled rain a couple of times during the day. In the late afternoon, a gray cloud came in from the southwest accompanied by some strong wind that helped decide at least one match.
In the second-to-last match of the day, Xander Schauffele and Grant Weaver came into the last hole with Schauffele up by a hole. He needed to make a par putt to keep the match from going to extra holes and left his putt right on the lip. But after a couple of seconds, it fell into the cup thanks to the strong wind that had started a few minutes earlier.
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