The semifinal between Oklahoma State senior Talor Gooch and Arkansas sophomore Taylor Moore will be the high-profile matchup at the 2013 Oklahoma Golf Association state amateur.
But the other semifinal between Nathan Hughes and Chandler Rusk on Wednesday morning at Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club is an intriguing “rematch.”
When they were seniors in high school, in 2009, Hughes, from Bartlesville, captured Class 6A medalist honors, edging Rusk, from Edmond North, on the first playoff hole.
It's been four years since Hughes and Rusk squared off at Emerald Falls in Broken Arrow.
Hughes began his college career at OU but transferred to the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he's a senior. Rusk began his career at Texas Tech and is a senior at Wichita State.
“We've played against each other here and there but we really haven't seen each other since (the 2009 state tournament),” Hughes said. “It will be good to catch up with him.”
Rusk twice has won sudden-death showdowns to advance at the state amateur.
Forty-four players shot under par in the qualifier at Lincoln West. Rusk was one of six golfers tied at 1-under. Only three state amateur spots were available. Rusk earned the final entry on the final playoff hole.
“I was just happy to make it into the tournament and see where it might take me,” Rusk said. “This is the furthest I've ever made it. I remember at age 16 I made the top 16 and thought that was pretty cool. I'm really looking forward to my match with Nathan.”
In his quarterfinal match Tuesday morning against top seeded Chris Muriana, Rusk needed 23 holes to eliminate the UCO senior.
With the match all square on No. 16, Rusk had a 15-foot eagle putt but three-putted. He saved par from off the green on 17. Both players recorded pars on seven consecutive holes, including the first four extra holes.
On hole No. 5 — the 23rd hole of the match — Rusk drained a 5-foot birdie putt after Muriana missed his 20-foot attempt.
“Chris played well,” Rusk said. “I didn't feel I hit it good in the first match but really got it going in my afternoon match. I chipped in on the first hole and was 5-under (in 12 holes). Hopefully I can build on that in the semifinals.”
In other quarterfinal matches, Gooch won 3 and 2 against former OU golfer/assistant coach Phillip Bryan, who now sells commercial insurance. Moore defeated Jeffrey Topp, 2 up. Hughes notched a 2-and-1 win over Sam Lee, a senior walk-on at OSU.
“Their side of the bracket was a little tougher than ours. That turned out good for us,” Hughes said. “It's come down to four people playing some of their best golf. It should be a lot of fun.”
In the other semifinal, Gooch will be one of the top players on an OSU team that might be ranked top five in preseason next spring. Moore is off to a solid start with the Razorbacks.
Gooch is two years older, but he and Moore played a handful of rounds together years ago.
“I feel pretty good right now,” Moore said. “I've won four matches in a row. I hopefully have two more to go, but Talor is a really good player. When I went through the recruiting process is when I really got to know him. I'm looking forward to it.”
The Gooch-Moore winner will be the favorite to win the title, but Rusk and Hughes have played well.
“I'm glad I'm not playing either (Gooch or Moore) unless I make it to the finals,” Rusk said, smiling. “Talor Gooch is a phenomenal player and Taylor Moore as well. No matter how it turns out it should be a fun day.”
2013 OGA state amateur
(Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club)
Round of 16
Chandler Rusk, Edmond, def. Chris Muriana, Stillwater, 23 holes
Tyler Hargus, Shawnee, def. Ben Blundell, OKC, 5 & 4
Sam Lee, Stillwater, def. Trent Mewbourn, OKC, 4 & 2
Nathan Hughes, Bartlesville, def. Jeff Coffman, OKC, 2 & 1
Talor Gooch, Midwest City, def. Cullen Stahl, Lawton, 4 & 3
Phillip Bryan, Mustang, def. Mason Overstreet, Laverne, 5 & 4
Jeffrey Topp, Midwest City, def. Zach Tucker, OKC, 3 & 1
Taylor Moore, Edmond, def. Kacey Threet, Grove, 2 up
Rusk def. Hargus, 7 & 6
Hughes def. Lee, 2 & 1
Gooch def. Bryan, 3 & 2
Moore def. Topp, 2 up
Chandler Rusk, Edmond, vs. Nathan Hughes, Bartlesville, 8 a.m.
Talor Gooch, Midwest City, vs. Taylor Moore, Edmond, 8:07 a.m.
Morning match winners, 12:30 p.m.