Garrett Rank of Canada took his shot and scored big Tuesday, making a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole as the NHL referee and partner Patrick Christovich advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.
Rank's putt defeated David Kocher and Connor Tendall, and it ended a long day at Winged Foot. Rank and Christovich, a real estate agent in New Orleans, had to play 39 holes in two matches. In the other, Christovich hit a 9-iron to birdie range on the par-3 third hole to win in 21 holes over the Phoenix duo of Ted Gray and Travis Milleman.
Next up for Rank and Christovich are SMU teammates Ben Baxter and Andrew Buchanan.
The other semifinal match Wednesday morning features Toledo teammates Otto Black and Colin Joseph against Brandon Cigna and Ben Warnquist.
The championship match is Wednesday afternoon.
It's already been a busy week for Rank. After the first round of stroke-play qualifying, he drove to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to work an American Hockey League playoff game. He got enough sleep to get through qualifying, and now he's two matches away from a USGA title.
"This is why you practice and this is why you play," Rank said. "It makes that long drive to Hershey and back feel good, along with the grind of taking clubs to the airport and practicing during the winter."
The 28-year-old Rank was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011. He took a job as a hockey referee — he worked 31 NHL games this year and 46 games in the AHL — and still has plenty of time for golf. Rank won the 2014 Canadian Mid-Amateur title, and he played in the Canadian Open a year later.
Baxter and Buchanan beat the No. 1 seed, Brandon Matthews and Patrick Ross, in the quarterfinals. Baxter closed out the match with a 10-footer on the 17th hole. In the round of 16, he made a 50-footer on the final hole.
"Coming into it, we were just excited to be here. It was like a no-lose attitude," Buchanan said. "Every match we advance, we're like, 'Oh, one more free round at Winged Foot East.'"