Mark Goetz competing for West Virginia University. Photo courtesy of West Virginia University.

Goetz loses in U.S. Amateur
By Mike Dudurich • August 12, 2021

Mike is a freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich.

There is losing and then there is losing.

Greensburg’s Mark Goetz has felt the sting of both and, quite frankly, he doesn’t like either one.

Regardless of where you are in life and what you do, losing stinks.

It probably can’t be more odiferous than what settled over Oakmont Country Club Thursday morning when 64th-seed David Nyfjall from Sweden shocked the amateur golf world by knocking off Goetz, the No. 1 seed, 1-up in their round of 64 match in the 121st U.S. Amateur Championship.

“Yeah, there was a little,” Goetz responded when asked about the disappointment of having a match in hand only to watch it slip away. “It was a pretty big deal for me to get into this event, to tell you the truth. Everything on top of that was icing on the cake.”

Goetz’s first opponent had survived a 12-for-1 playoff just to get into match play, allowing him just to freewheel. Goetz, on the hand, had all the heat on him as the No. 1 seed.

The two played four holes Wednesday night before darkness shut it down with the match even. This morning Nyfjall birdied the sixth. He held that lead until the 10th when Goetz birdied the difficult par four.

And then Goetz when on three-hole birdie spree to put together a 3-up lead with four holes to play.

And then came the 15th. His approach shot into the difficult par 4 was a good one, leaving him a makeable birdie putt. Had it gone in, that could have been the winning stroke dependent on what Nyfjall did on the hole.

Goetz missed the birdie attempt AND the par putt and lost the hole.

He bunkered the tee shot on 16 and after a good shot out of the bunker, missed his par putt and was suddenly just one up.

"At 17, that ball was in a dicey spot,” Goetz admitted. “It was kind of a weird lie, but I didn’t do a great job with that one. I wish I’d have had that one back.”

Goetz hit what he thought was a good drive on the 18th it hung out to the right just a bit. He called the wedge he hit on his second shot “decent.’ It was beyond the hole and didn’t really spin back as much as he hoped.

“And then he made it, so …”

He in this case was Nyfjall and it was a putt in the range of 35-40 feet to birdie the hole and win the match.

And with that, the excitement that has built since Goetz and the rest of the 10-man group from the West Penn Golf Association who qualified to play was in this national event was gone. Goetz was the last man standing and he was not happy that he wouldn’t be making his way back to Oakmont this morning.

“Yeah, I mean, I wish I would be around for this afternoon and later this week. It was a great week, man. It was a lot of fun. I had a big Hannastown crowd following me. That was awesome. It's pretty cool. I could name you most of those guys in that crowd. That's what was funny. But, yeah, I mean, it was awesome. Yeah."

Goetz was asked what he would take away from his experience at historic Oakmont and wasn’t sure exactly how to nail that down.

“I think honestly it reassures to me that this is my favorite place on the planet now. I had a 3-up lead there. I've had leads here before. We know how that goes, right? So, this place is awesome. I don't know what I'm going to take away from the play this week. We'll see. Probably going to go to the club, hang out later today, and it will take a while to sink in for sure.”

For the third straight day, weather interfered with the schedule and there are still several matches unfinished and will need to be finished this morning. The original schedule for today had the round of 16 matches starting at 2:30, but that schedule is all subject to change due to the weather.

There was a brief stoppage of play early but that one was because lightning in the area. Play was called at 6:35 due to storms that hit western Pennsylvania.

If the event can get through today’s round, including finishing Thursday’s incomplete round, the U.S. Am could be back on schedule by Saturday.

About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and 33,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund.