Denny McCarthy, a senior at Virginia and graduate of Georgetown Prep, lost 1-up to Corey Conners of Canada in the semifinals of the 114th U.S. Amateur on Saturday at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.
Teeing off second on the par-5 18th, Conners hit his ball in the left water hazard but recovered with a 5-iron to 24 feet. With two putts, he won the match after McCarthy converted a seven-foot par putt.
“I have no regrets. It’s been an awesome week,” McCarthy told reporters. “When I won the last four matches [to reach the semifinals], I really thought, this could be the year. This was going to be the year. It didn’t turn out that way. Didn’t quite execute my shots coming down the back nine, and it was kind of hard to play catchup when Corey is such a solid player.
“The last four or five holes I had a chance, and I played them really well, just couldn’t quite get the job done.”
Conners advanced to Sunday’s 36-hole final, where he will face South Korean Gunn Yang, a sophomore at San Diego State who edged Frederick Wedel of The Woodlands, Tex., in 19 holes.
Conners won two of the first three holes and held a 2-up advantage through seven holes, but bogeys on Nos. 8 and 9 by Conners squared the match. On 12 and 13, McCarthy suffered consecutive bogeys to give Conners, coming off his senior season at Kent State, a 2-up edge.
McCarthy, a second-team all-American as a junior at Virginia, birdied the par-4 16th hole to narrow the lead and both players made par at the 17th.
Conners, the first Canadian to reach the U.S. Amateur final since Gary Cowan won his second title in 1971, reached the semifinals last year before losing to eventual champion Matthew Fitzpatrick of England.
Each finalist will automatically qualify for next year’s U.S. Open, as long as he remains an amateur. By virtue of reaching the quarterfinals, McCarthy earned an exemption into the 2015 U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields in Illinois. This year was the first time in six attempts at the event that McCarthy advanced beyond the round of 64.