Texas teen Cole Hammer into U.S. Amateur semifinals


PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Texas teen Cole Hammer and Norway’s Viktor Hovland advanced Friday at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Amateur to set up a semifinal match.

Hammer, the 18-year-old Houston player headed to the University of Texas this fall, beat England’s Alex Fitzpatrick 3 and 2. Hammer is 17-1 in match play this year, winning the Western Amateur and teaming with Garrett Barber to take the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.

“I was 2 up after five holes and I hit the ball better today than I did yesterday,” Hammer said. “I’m trying not to think any further down the line.”

Hovland, a junior at Oklahoma State, had his second consecutive 7-and-6 victory, routing Austin Squires of Union, Kentucky.

“I’m just playing really well,” said Hovland, who helped Oklahoma State win the NCAA team title on its home course in May. “I’m hitting the greens and making the putts. I’m just placing the ball in the right spot. I’ve been playing aggressively. I’m teeing it up and hitting it hard.”

UCLA sophomore Devon Bling of Ridgecrest and Stanford senior Isaiah Salinda of South San Francisco will meet in an all-California match in Saturday’s other semifinal.

Bling beat Davis Riley of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 1 up.

“It was intense all day and right from the start,” Bling said. “We got it to the 18th even and I made the birdie to win.”

Salinda edged Will Gordon of Davidson, North Carolina, 2 and 1.

“Things are just together in all parts of my game for the last month or so,” Salinda said. “I’m just getting mentally tougher. I’ve never been in this position before.”

The winners Saturday will advance to the 36-hole final Sunday.

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