Tyler Strafaci writes another chapter of family history with hard-fought U.S. Amateur win
BANDON, Ore. – By the time Tyler Strafaci reached the 18th tee at Bandon Dunes for the second time on Sunday, he had not finished either (...)
BANDON, Ore. – By the time Tyler Strafaci reached the 18th tee at Bandon Dunes for the second time on Sunday, he had not finished either of the two previous holes. His 2-up lead had quickly evaporated.
“We talked at lunch about how the 16th and 17th holes had not gone well the previous three days, but he won 18 three straight times so it might come down to that again,” Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler recalled. “It did and he hit the two shots of his life.”
Strafaci, a senior at Georgia Tech, made birdie on the 36th and final hole to defeat Charles Osborne, 1 up, in the championship match of the U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes, a highly ranked golf resort on the Oregon coast. In this marathon USGA championship, Sunday marked the fourth straight match that Strafaci had won on the last hole.
Strafaci found the fairway off the tee on the par-5 18th hole and knocked his second shot 15 feet past the pin.
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“I told myself that I was going to hit a winning shot when it mattered most under the most pressure in amateur golf,” Strafaci said. “I needed 225 yards to carry the bunkers and if I rip a 4-iron, it goes 225. I wanted to hit it close by hitting the best 4-iron of my life. I knew I could execute it and trusted myself.”
Osborne hit his second shot just short of the green and pitched up to 12 yards short of the hole. Strafaci just missed an eagle putt and made birdie before Osborne ran his chance to force an extra hole just past the cup.
Strafaci hugged his father, Frank Jr., who was his caddie all week. He joined his grandfather as a USGA champion after Frank Strafaci Sr. won the U.S. Amateur Public Links title in 1935.
“This trophy has become the holy grail of golf for my family for more than 80 years,” Frank Strafaci Jr. said. “This is something that my father always felt was an empty spot on his competitive record and it meant a lot to him.”
Courtesy of his victory, Tyler Strafaci also earned a spot on the 2021 Walker Cup team, something else his grandfather never did.
Strafaci gave Georgia Tech two straight winners of the tournament after his teammate Andy Ogletree won last year. Strafaci also heard from Matt Kuchar, another U.S. Amateur champion from Georgia Tech, before his final round.
Osborne, an SMU sophomore, had eight birdies in the morning round as he went 5 up through 12 holes before Strafaci closed within one hole to start the afternoon round.
Strafaci took his first lead with a birdie on the 25th hole, but Osborne tied it up with a birdie on the 31st hole.
As the fog rolled in off the Pacific Ocean, Strafaci stepped to the tee of the 314-yard 14th hole and knocked his drive eight feet past the pin.
“I couldn’t see the pin because the fog was so bad,” he said. “You couldn’t see more than 150 yards in front of you, but I knew it would be pretty good.”
Osborne made a 30-foot birdie putt before Strafaci drained his for eagle to move 1 up.
Strafaci hit the green on the par-3 15th hole and went 2-up when Osborne conceded the hole after his tee shot went past the green and two chips came up short of the putting surface.
After Osborne’s drive at the par-4 16th – a nearly blind shot thanks to the amount of fog hovering in the air – nearly hit the green, Strafaci landed his in a bunker. He blasted out on his second shot and flew into a penalty area behind the hole. He had to concede when he couldn’t get the ball out of the tall grass.
Strafaci hit his second shot into the penalty area on No. 17 and then took a drop and hit another shot into the penalty area before conceding again to Osborne.
For the third time in four days, Strafaci reached the final hole in a tie and won the hole to clinch the match.
“That’s the best, most competitive match I’ve ever played,” Strafaci said. “I executed shots coming down the stretch and just nipped him so it was fun.”
Osborne earned a spot in next year’s U.S. Open and a likely invitation to the Masters with his runner-up finish.
“I thought I played really well,” he said. “I had a couple of hiccups but I thought I played great today. We were both playing really well so it was fun.”
The two men threw out birdie after birdie on Sunday.
“That has to be one of the best finals played in U.S. Amateur history,” Frank Strafaci Jr. said.