AZ Amateur final act: Osborn vs. Wog
A waiter from Scottsdale, Michael Wog, will meet a “weekend warrior’’ from the same city, Bowen Osborn, in Saturday’s championship match of the 87th Arizona Amateur at the Country Club at DC Ranch.
It marks the first time in eight years that a college-age player will not win this major championship sponsored by the Arizona Golf Association.
“I guess all that’s left is just a couple of us older guys — ‘the veterans’,’’ observed Wog, who is 29 to Osborn’s 31 years of age.
“I don’t know much about (Osborn), but I do know that I’ve been lucky enough not to be down in any of my matches yet. So I’ll just do what I’ve been doing, try to make smart shots that don’t get me in trouble.’’
Wog, the No. 6 seed, would have to be considered the favorite, especially since Osborn, a high-tech salesman for Shotzoom, doesn’t get to play that often.
“I’m a weekend warrior who, maybe, gets to play once or twice a week and occasionally hit some balls,’’ said Osborn, who is competing in his first Arizona Amateur after moving from California a year ago.
“I haven’t played much competitively lately, but it’s nice to bet back into it. I was a little concerned with my short game, but it’s been pretty good so far and I’ve been hitting it well.’’
But Osborn, the No. 4 seed, has had plenty of experience with it all on the line. He was the 2002 Patriot League medalist when he played college golf for Lehigh, and he also captured the 2002 Minnesota Amateur in his home state.
Osborn never was in any real trouble Friday during his 1-up victory over Scottsdale’s David Lowe and a 3-and-2 decision over Scottsdale’s Adam Walicki, a former pro who was the No. 1 seed.
About the most difficult thing for Osborn was recalling his morning match with Lowe, a former Brophy Prep standout who is headed for Arizona State in two weeks.
“(Lowe’s) a good player and we just kind of went back and forth, nobody being more than 1-up through (the first 13 holes),’’ said Osborn, who won the 14th and 15th holes to go 3-up before Lowe came roaring back at the 16th and 17th.
“Specific details are hard to remember. I mean, each hole is like it’s own little match, and every little hole is important, so you’re just in there grinding away and it’s hard to remember.’’
Osborn was more in control – and cognizant – in his match with Walicki, where he went up for good with a birdie at the ninth hole, a par to win the 10th, and the shot of the day at the 11th, where a 4-iron from 236 yards settled 3 inches from the cup for a kick-in eagle. That put him 3-up, and in his own words: “It really wasn’t very pretty after that, as we halved a lot of holes with ugly pars and bogeys.’’
In Walicki’s defense, he might have been a little worn down after a very tough match he won, 1-up, in the morning over Arizona State’s Jin Song. And it already had been a long week for Walicki, who ended up playing 105 holes in five straight days – or 21 holes a day.
Wog, who was the 2009 AGA player of the year but has never advanced beyond the quarterfinals of this tournament, would seem to be the more seasoned player. And he’s been working hard on his game for eight years pretty much full-time with the exception of last year, when he helped his father back home in Washington get through some tough times.
“I’ve been playing really good,’’ Wog said after his three birdies without a bogey spelled out a 4-and-3 win over Scottsdale’s Marc Watkins, the son of noted instructor Scott Watkins.
“I didn’t have much going, but I made a lot of pars and really didn’t make any real big mistakes. Several holes also turned out to be pivotal in that it could have gone either way.’’
Such as the eighth hole, where Wog chipped in for birdie and Watkins ended up missing his attempt from eight feet. Or the 11th hole, where both players came up short of the green, and Wog chunked his chip while Watkins hit it close for a “gimme’’ birdie.
“I ended up running in my (birdie) putt from 20 feet and that was kind of crucial to get that halve there,’’ said Wog, who ended up winning the 13th and 14th holes with pars to ice the match.
Wog also was pretty much on cruise control against Juan Fernandez in his morning match, disposing of the former Scottsdale Community College standout, 3 and 1. Like is sometimes the case in match play, Wog got a little help from Fernandez, as the Mexico City native couldn’t overcome four bogeys and a double with a lone birdie.
“This would be really special if I could some how win this,’’ said Wog, who normally works five or six nights a week at Eddie V’s in the Scottsdale Quarter.
The championship match starts bright and early at 7:30 a.m. And it should be interesting, as neither player knows the other’s game. Which brought up a first encounter as both were leaving the course late Friday afternoon.
“Have fun tomorrow,’’ Wog told the weekend warrior.
“We will,’’ Osborn countered.
That was the extent of the conversation.