CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson rising senior Zack Gordon reached the final four of the North-South Amateur at Pinehurst #2 in Pinehurst, N.C. on Saturday morning with a victory over Joe Highsmith from NCAA Champion Pepperdine, then dropped a semifinal match in the afternoon to Australia Amateur Champion Louis Dobbelaar.
The two matches concluded quite a week for Gordon, who jumped on the national college golf scene in April when he made a 20-foot putt in his match against Florida State to give the Tigers the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. Reaching the Final Four of the North-South Amateur will only enhance his resume.
Gordon, a native of Gaffney, SC, started the week by finishing third in the stroke play qualifier (135 total), a performance that included a five-under-par 65 on the famed Pinehurst #2 course that has been the site of multiple United States Open championships. He then defeated William Moll of Vanderbilt and Ben Carr of Georgia Southern in the first two rounds of match play on July 1 and 2, respectively.
In Gordon’s win over sixth-seeded Highsmith in the quarterfinals that began early Saturday morning, he got off to a great start by winning the third and fourth holes. He made a birdie on third hole and won with a par on the fourth. He won the seventh hole to go 3-up, then lost the ninth hole to hold a 2-up lead at the turn.
Gordon then won holes 10, 12 and 13 to go 5-up with five holes left. Highsmith won the next three holes to close the gap, but the two players tied the 17th hole, giving Gordon the 2&1 win. Highsmith had a 15-foot birdie putt to extend the match, but missed.
It was a big victory for Gordon because Highsmith had gone 5-0 in match play during the academic year for Pepperdine, including a 3-0 record in the NCAA Tournament that was a big reason the Wave won the National Championship.
That win moved Gordon into a semifinal match against Dobbelaar, a 19-year old from Australia who has already won the Australia Amateur championship in his home country and the Dogwood Amateur in the United States this summer. Dobbelaar does not attend college in the United States, but is playing an American amateur schedule this summer.
Dobbelaar got off to an impressive start by winning the first and third holes. Gordon battled back to tie the match with a win on the ninth hole. He then won the 10th hole for his first lead of the match. But that would be Gordon’s only lead as Dobbelaar won four of the next seven holes, including the clinching 17th.
“I just didn’t putt well on holes 15-17,” said Gordon. “We were tied after 14 holes, then he won the next three when I missed a couple of putts inside six feet and he made a 12 footer and a 10 footer.
“Overall, my short game was a big key to my success here this week. I got up and down a lot in important situations. This was a great experience, a terrific course against a strong field.”
Stroke Play Qualifier, June 29-30June 29, 65 at Pinehurst #2June 30, 70 at Pinehurst #4
Match PlayJuly 1, First Round: d. William Moll (Vanderbilt), 19 holesJuly 2 Second Round d. Ben Carr (Georgia Southern), 2&1July 3, Third Round, d. Joe Highsmith (Pepperdine), 2&1July 3, Fourth Round, Lost to Louis Dobbelaar (Australia), 3&1