Biwer Wins First Match At U.S. Amateur
PARAMUS, N.J. — University of Colorado sophomore Justin Biwer rallied from two holes down with six to play to advance into the Round of 32 in the match play competition of the 122nd annual U.S. Amateur here Wednesday.
Biwer defeated Khavish Varadan, a junior on the Alabama-Birmingham golf team by a 2 & 1 score on the most challenging 7,424-yard, par-71 Ridgewood Country Club course, about 10 miles northwest of New York City. But it wasn't easy; Biwer fell behind two holes right from the start and Varadan would take the lead again on three other occasions after Biwer would square the match.
Biwer birdied Nos. 3 and 4 to pull even, but Varadan birdied No. 6 to regain the lead. Biwer then birdied No. 7 but bogeyed No. 8 to fall back by one again which held through the front nine. Biwer then birdied No. 10 to even things up again a fourth time, but Varadan won the next two holes to stand 2-up through 12.
That's when Biwer went on an impressive run, winning the next four holes. He birdied the par-5 13th, a 624-yard monster (especially at sea level), and parred No. 14 to square things. He then parred the par-3 15th while Varadan bogeyed to take his first lead of the day, and scored a par on No. 16 while Varadan again bogeyed. Both parred the 576-yard, par-5 17th, giving Biwer the victory.
"I definitely had a few nerves at the start," Biwer said. "I've never been in a situation like this before – the U.S. Amateur – a big stage. I started out slow, two down after two, but I knew there was a lot of golf left and I just had to hang in there. The guy I was playing then started to hit some bad shots and make some mistakes, so all it really took for me was to make good shots and make pars. That's all you really need out here – pars – this course is definitely tough."
"In a word, resilience," CU head coach Roy Edwards said. "Justin battled all day – he never wavered. It was very impressive to see. He was very, very steady. Nothing really was going his way until 14 and that enabled him to get back to all square. That was the turning point as it shifted all the pressure for the first time all day to his opponent. A tremendous win."
Biwer's opponent in the Round of 32 will be Walker Isley, a junior on the University of North Carolina-Wilmington golf team; he won his first round match 3 and 2 Wednesday. Their match starts at 8:30 a.m. MDT at Ridgewood. The Round of 16 will follow in the afternoon; the winner of the Biwer-Isley match will face the winner of the Derek Hitchner-Josh Gliege match. Hitchner was a senior at Pepperdine last year, while Gliege is the second-year assistant coach at Wichita State after playing in college at Texas A &M and Boise State.
The quarterfinals are set for Friday, with the semifinals on Saturday and the 36-hole championship match Sunday.
The last Buffalo to advance in match play was David Oraee in 2015; he finished second in stroke play after a pair of 67s and reached the round of 16.