CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. — Neal Shipley is having a helluva summer.
He has runner-up finishes at the Dogwood Invitational, the Sunnehanna Amateur and the Trans-Mississippi Amateur. He also tied for third at the Pacific Coast Amateur. Now, the graduate student at Ohio State is a semifinalist in the 2023 U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Country Club.
On Friday, Shipley dispatched Andi Xu 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals. His luscious, flowing hair has become a fun talking point for fans and makes him plenty noticeable on the course, but his game is doing a lot of talking.
“You’ve got to beat so many good players, and I’ve had a lot of really tough matches,” Shipley said. “This one is pretty special because I started out kind of slow and had to claw back. Got up, and then he got me, and then just kind of won those two near the end.”
U.S. Amateur: Photos from Cherry Hills
Buckeyes’ assistant coach Jimmy Beck has looped for Shipley this week, and they’ve been a formidable duo. However, Shipley has to find a new caddie for the weekend.
“Jimmy is awesome,” Shipley said. “Unfortunately, he has to go to his baby shower tomorrow.”
So, what’s the back-up plan?
“Just so happens one of my really good friends who caddied for Austin Greaser at the Oakmont (U.S.) Am (2021), he happens to be at Beaver Creek, and I’m going to make him drive down for that.”
That good friend is Carter Pitcaird, a rising sophomore at Wisconsin. And yes, Pitcaird has plenty of experience in the U.S. Amateur as a caddie.
In 2021, he helped Greaser, now a grad student at North Carolina, to the chapionship match at Oakmont Country Club, which is Shipley and Pitcaird’s home course. This week, Greaser reached the Round of 32.
“I have a lot of trust in him,” Shipley said. “At the end of the day, I’m swinging the club, so it’s not a big deal.”
Beaver Creek is about two hours west of Cherry Hills in the Rocky Mountains. Instead of hanging out at the mountain resort, Pitcaird will be trying to help Shipley earn a berth in the championship match.
Shipley will take on Auburn senior John Marshall Butler at 2:15 p.m. ET in the semifinals.