Bard Falls Just Short of 2015 US Amateur Title
OLYMPIA FIELDS, ILL. -- Throughout his battle for the most coveted title in amateur golf, Derek Bard earned himself the moniker of "comeback kid" by way of his resilience earlier in the week against formidable foes, such as No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking Jon Rahm and USA Walker Cup Team member Hunter Stewart.
There were moments in the 36-hole final of the US Amateur Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club when it seemed Bard would continue his streak of come from behind wins. After dropping the first two holes of the match to 2015 NCAA Champion Bryson DeChambeau from Southern Methodist University, Bard took four of the next seven holes to go 1-up through nine. Bard then lost three consecutive holes (No. 14, 15 and 16) to DeChambeau on the back and found himself 3-down through 17, but pulled together on holes 18 and 19 to settle DeChambeau's lead to 1-up.
The turning point of the day came on the par-4 2nd (20th hole of match). DeChambeau had an impressive second shot that left him with a short putt for birdie. He converted the 3-footer and began to run away with it. He then proceeded to knock down six more birdies in the final ten holes leaving Bard without any opportunity to recover. DeChambeau won 7-and-6 to claim the title of 115th US Amateur Champion.
During an interview with USGA's Jessica Marksbury, Bard was asked what his keys to success were. He responded, "I've been telling everyone stay patient really, it's so easy to get ahead of yourself out there especially when things aren't going your way...If things are going poorly, stay patient, stay calm and grind it out."
Certainly, Bard practiced what he preached. He spun four consecutive comeback wins in the match-play rounds of 64, 32, 16 and the quarterfinals. His underdog mentality both diminished pressure and allowed him to play exceptional golf down the stretch.
Bard's most impressive feat this week was against Rahm in the quarterfinal round. Bard was 3-down through ten holes but picked up speed taking the next two holes to stay within reach. He proved triumphant, winning two out of the last three holes of the match to best Rahm, 1-up.
Bard's appearance in the US Amateur final earns him an exemption into the 2016 US Open to be held at the venerable Oakmont Country Club, a 3-year exemption into the US Amateur and traditionally an exemption into next year's Masters Tournament.
"It's been my dream since I was a little kid to play in the Masters as a professional," said Bard.
Bard's first US Amateur appearance was in 2014 at the Atlanta Athletic Club. He fell in the second round of match-play (Round of 32) to eventual semi-finalist Frederick Wedel, 2-and-1.
Bard, 20, from New Hartford, NY, is a rising junior at the University of Viriginia. His most notable win to date was in early June at the esteemed Sunnehanna Amateur. Bard shot a 4-under 66 in the final round to total 12-under 268 for the tournament. With his win at the Sunnehanna, Bard's name was added to a respected list of past champions including Ben Crenshaw, Webb Simpson, Lucas Glover and Ricky Fowler.
Bard, playing out of Cedar Lake Club, contended for the 2015 NYS Amateur title at Turning Stone's Kaluhyat Golf Club in July. He finished fourth with a 72-hole total of even-par 288 (73-70-68-77).
It's been just over 20 years since the golf community in Central New York has seen a familiar face in the US Amateur final. Tom Scherrer from Syracuse, NY, was the US Amateur runner-up in 1992. He lost 8-and-7 to Justin Leonard at Muirfield Village.
Other past US Amateur finalists with strong ties to the NYSGA include: NYSGA Hall of Fame member (Class of 2012) Ray Billows - Runner-up in 1937, 1939 and 1948; Will Turnesa - Champion in 1938 and 1948; NYSGA Hall of Fame member (Class of 2015) Samuel Urzetta - Champion in 1950.
For full coverage of the 2015 US Amateur Championship, click here.
Dan Thompson, NYSGA Intern