Lee, 18, to face Florida State's Kittleson in U.S. Amateur final
PINEHURST, N.C. -- After a week full of autographs and adulation, Danny Lee is starting to feel like Tiger Woods at the U.S. Amateur.
One more victory, and he'll surpass him.
Lee moved to the brink of supplanting Woods as the youngest champion in U.S. Amateur history on Saturday by defeating Patrick Reed 3 and 2 in one semifinal.
If Lee -- who is 18 years, 1 month old -- beats Florida State sophomore Drew Kittleson in Sunday's 36-hole final, he would be six months and 29 days younger than Woods was when he won his first U.S. Amateur in 1994.
"I'm just having a really, really good week," Lee said. "Everything I hit, everything I putt just falls in the hole."
By advancing to the finals, Lee and Kittleson earned exemptions into next year's U.S. Open and probable invitations to the Masters, as long as they remain amateurs.
"There is no way I'm going to turn pro," Lee said.
For the past week, all eyes have been on Lee. The world's top-ranked amateur and closest thing this event has to a celebrity will play competitive golf for the 11th consecutive day.
The medalist and match play winner at the Western Amateur tuned up for the U.S. Amateur last week by debuting on the PGA Tour, making the cut and tying for 20th at the Wyndham Championship across the state in Greensboro.
Though making light of his fatigue all week -- and tweaking his left shoulder while warming up for the quarterfinals -- the New Zealander has been nothing short of dominant at the renowned No. 2 course at Pinehurst.
He has trailed for only one hole in five match-play rounds, and until Saturday, never needed more than 15 holes to finish off his opponent.
Lee closed out the Georgia freshman with a par on the par-4 16th -- a hole he hadn't needed to play since the second round of stroke play four days earlier.
"He was always putting pressure on me," Lee said.
Lee placed his second shot 40 feet from the pin, left his putt 1 foot short and walked off with a gimme. Reed ran into trouble on his second shot, landing it on the back left edge of the fringe, inches from the sand. He had one foot in the hazard and one on the grass when he attempted his putt, which went left and rolled nearly 10 feet past the hole.
Reed's last-chance putt for par looked on line, but broke left late to seal Lee's victory.
"I knew I had to make par, so I just thought that [the odd stance] would have been the best option for me actually making par," Reed said. "I just didn't make the 6-footer coming back."
The other semifinal also was decided on the 16th, where Kittleson's 20-foot par putt wrapped up a 4-and-2 victory over Georgia senior Adam Mitchell.
Kittleson, of Scottsdale, Ariz., had to rally to extend his second Amateur appearance after Mitchell went 2-up through four holes.
Kittleson squared the match with a birdie on the par-4 seventh, then took the lead for good midway through his round, sandwiching pars on Nos. 9 and 11 around a birdie on the par-5 10th.
"It was kind of new territory for me this week, and I had to flip the switch and turn it around and get something positive going," Kittleson said. "And [I] ended up doing it."
Kittleson took a 3-up lead through 15 holes to put Mitchell in a must-win situation.
The Georgia senior's drive found the sand to the right of the fairway, his recovery attempt sailed into left-side rough and his third shot nearly rolled off the back of the green before stopping 30 feet from the pin. His uphill putt broke left and rolled 2 feet past the hole.
Meanwhile, Kittleson recovered nicely after his second shot kicked hard off the green and nearly bounced past the back ropes, placing his chip about 20 feet from the flagstick and then sinking his long putt to end the match.
"We both hit the ball really well," Campbell said. "He just seemed to make a couple more of those 10- to 15-footers."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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