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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Woodland reaches Amateur final

Kansas University golfer will take on ex-Jayhawk Shelton in today's championship match

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— A pair of Jayhawks will face off today in the finals of the 95th Kansas Amateur golf match-play championship.

Kansas University golfer Gary Woodland is halfway home to a sweep of the co-medalists. Woodland, 21, rallied from a 3-hole deficit Saturday to defeat co-medalist Jesse Schulte of Hutchinson, 1-up, to advance to today's 36-hole championship match against co-medalist and KU graduate Tyler Shelton of Fairway.

Schulte and Shelton tied for qualifying medalist honors at 6-under-par 136. Woodland survived a roller-coaster round when his par won the 18th hole.

"I'm thrilled to reach the finals because that was definitely my toughest match," Woodland said. "I was struggling for a while, but I found a way to win by grinding it out."

Woodland, from Berryton, avenged two previous match-play losses to Schulte, who lost in match play after being the qualifying medalist the past four years. He started his comeback when Schulte bogeyed two holes, then birdied four holes on the back nine. Woodland's momentum-swinging putt was a 30-foot birdie at No. 14 with 2 feet of break that ignited three straight birdies.

"I finally got hot and made a big putt, which gave me confidence," Woodland said. "It's a big relief to reach the finals. Luckily, I won it."

Schulte lost a similar Kansas Amateur semifinal heartbreaker in 2003 to Jon May. The former Wichita State golfer birdied four holes, but four bogeys cost him four holes.

"Match play is like that because I'd really played well this week," Schulte said. "I had a bad angle on my approach at 18 into the wind and my chip didn't get to the pin. I didn't play solid enough golf to win."

Shelton, a University of Kansas graduate, had played five matches in the equivalent of 7-under-par while Woodland had played 6-under-par. Woodland was pushed to the final hole twice while Shelton hasn't played No. 18 in five matches.

Shelton parred 12 holes and won five holes with pars to win 5 and 4 over Wellington's Derek Harrison in the semifinals. Shelton reached the finals after losing two previous times in the semifinals, including last year.

"This proves if you're playing well in qualifying, you can play well in match play," Shelton said. "I'd had success hitting fairways and greens and seeing the other player make mistakes. I've played really well on the back nine all week. It's definitely been fun."

Shelton and Woodland met each other last year when Woodland and Kevin Ward defeated Shelton and Jay Hepler in the Kansas Four-Ball Tournament.

Schulte provided the best play of the day in Saturday's quarterfinals. He birdied four of his final five holes to rally past Kansas State golfer Ben Kern 1-up with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

Schulte sent the match to extra holes with a tying 10-foot birdie putt at No. 18 after he also birdied Nos. 15 and 16. Schulte played 5-under on his final 10 holes. Kern, from Tucson, Ariz., captured the 2004 Arizona Amateur Championship.

In the other quarterfinals, Woodland birdied four holes to beat two-time Kansas Amateur champion Bryan Norton, 4 and 3; Shelton birdied three holes to beat Cole Nondorf of Hoxie, 2 and 1; and Harrison upset Kansas State golfer Matt VanCleave, 2 and 1.

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