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How this Raleigh golfer went from college sophomore to US Amateur champion

Doc Redman lines up a shot on the 16th hole during the championship round of the USGA Amateur Golf Championship on Sunday. Redman, who’s from Raleigh, is a sophomore at Clemson.
Doc Redman lines up a shot on the 16th hole during the championship round of the USGA Amateur Golf Championship on Sunday. Redman, who’s from Raleigh, is a sophomore at Clemson. AP

Doc Redman, like a lot of college students, has a busy week ahead as classes start up at Clemson.

In Redman’s case, there was a cross-country flight to catch Monday to get back to South Carolina for the fall semester. The Raleigh native, a sophomore majoring in mathematical sciences, will have little time to settle in before the first classes on Wednesday.

Redman, 19, has had an eventful summer break. The Clemson golfer spent this past week in Los Angeles, where he won the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship after making it through two rounds of stroke play, a 13-man playoff to get into match play, then six more matches.

Redman also got a phone call Saturday night from Dabo Swinney, the Clemson football coach, who wished Redman good luck before his final match and urged him to add another national championship to the one the Tigers won in football last season.

The Tigers topped Alabama with a late drive in the national championship game in January. On Sunday, Redman beat Doug Ghim on the 37th hole of the championship match – akin to going to overtime – after a late rally of his own, winning the last two holes of the scheduled 36-hole final with an eagle and birdie to square the match, then closing it out with another birdie.

“Just incredible,” Redman said. “It’s incredible to add my name to the list of all the incredible champions. I hope that this can catapult me up into that conversation going forward.”

The victory was not totally unexpected. Redman was a freshman star at Clemson and had played consistently well this summer, finishing runner-up in the Western Amateur in Glencoe, Ill., earlier this month, after losing on the fourth playoff hole.

“He’s a very driven, self-motivated player with incredibly good focus,” golf instructor Jimmy Hamilton of Raleigh said Monday. “He’s the kind who never gets ahead of himself. Just an incredible mind and very much at ease on the course, as cool as a cucumber.”

Redman, the 2016 state 4A champion at Leesville Road High, often played at Wildwood Green Golf Club in North Raleigh, and there was no lack of competition. Grayson Murray, a recent winner on the PGA Tour who also played golf at Leesville Road, was at Wildwood Green. So, too, was Carter Jenkins, also from Leesville Road and now on the PGA Tour’s MacKenzie Tour in Canada.

Former Wildwood Green golf director John Budwine Jr. worked with Redman before leaving the club two years ago for Deep Springs Country Club near Greensboro.

“As an eighth-grader at Cary Academy you could tell he had a special talent and great demeanor,” Budwine said Monday. “He was head and shoulders above everyone with his mental game. Good shot or bad, he never got upset. I never saw him throw clubs or cuss or cry.

“As for his swing, his rhythm, balance and timing were always good. He has the ability to stay in balance and hold his finish. And he’s never worried about what his swing looks like. He’s results oriented.”

Hamilton, who said he helped Redman as a high school senior, caddied for Redman in the 2016 U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills outside Detroit.

Redman was beaten in the second round of match play by Sam Horsfield of the University of Florida. Redman played well, Hamilton said, but Horsfield was at his best, with an unofficial 29 on the front nine.

“I told Doc, ‘In any conversation about the best amateur players, you’re in that conversation, the way you played,’ ” Hamilton said. “I think the confidence he gained steamrolled into his freshman year at Clemson.”

Last week, Hamilton texted Redman: “One match at a time. Why not you?”

Ghim, a senior at Texas and the 2017 Big 12 player of the year, had a two-hole lead with two holes left in the afternoon round Sunday. But Redman rolled in a 60-foot eagle putt, then put his approach shot eight feet from the pin at the 18th hole for a winning birdie.

Ghim butchered the 37th hole — the par-4 10th at Riviera. He conceded a winning birdie to Redman, who calmly shook hands with Ghim, thanked caddie Dean Emerson and turned to do a quick greenside interview with Curtis Strange of Fox Sports.

No fist pump, no chest bump.

“He’s unpretentious that way,” Hamilton said.

Redman, as U.S. Amateur champion, has entry into the 2018 U.S. Open and likely the Masters. Later Sunday, he was named to the U.S. Walker Cup team.

In past years, Redman caddied in the summers at Old Chatham Golf Club outside Chapel Hill. There’s no time for that now.

“I’ve got to get back for class Wednesday,” he said. “I’ve got to get there quickly.”

Chip Alexander: 919-829-8945, @ice_chip