PEORIA — The field for the 92nd Peoria Men's City golf tournament was trimmed to four players on Thursday morning.
Twenty-seventh seed Ryan Brown eliminated seven-time champion Rick LeHew with a 6-and-4 victory at Newman Golf Course.
Eighth-seeded Scott Phegley defeated Brien Davis 3 and 1, No. 29 Jeff Ott claimed a 7-and-6 victory over Rich Spengler and No. 18 Matt McCaw earned a 2-up victory over Jake Schneider in the other quarterfinal matches.
Phegley will face Ott at 8 a.m. Friday, while McCaw tees off against Brown at 8:07 in the semifinals of the Peoria Park District event.
Brown, a Richwoods graduate and former player at McKendree College, had a hot putter when he played LeHew in a lopsided match.
"I hit a couple close and Rick kind of struggled a little bit today, but that's the nature of the beast when you play four days in a row," Brown said. "It felt good to get a win and not have to go to 18 (holes) again. I feel like my game is in a good point right now and it helps getting out here playing every day to build repetition with the course. I'll have a tough match tomorrow with Coach McCaw."
Third-seeded LeHew missed some putts, and fell behind early in the match as his quest for an eighth City title came to an end.
"I'm 4-over (par) after six, which is just unacceptable and in championship flight you can't be 4-over after six holes," said LeHew, plans to play in the British Senior Amateur instead of the Men's City for the next few years. "(Brown) made some really clutch birdies," LeHew said. "He earned 8, 10, 13 and made some great birdies to keep the pressure on. I have never had that many fives on a scorecard in a long time. I played really well yesterday and just didn't follow it up with it today."
McCaw, who is entering his 28th season as Peoria High boys golf coach, worked with a younger Brown during the Junior River Cup. The pair will get a chance to compete against each other for a spot in Saturday's 36-hole championship match.
McCaw held onto a 1-up lead through 17 holes and put himself in position to win when Schneider hooked his approach into a tree and left his third shot long of the green on the 414-yard, par-4 18th. McCaw won the hole with par after recovering from a wayward drive that carried into a gully off the right of the fairway.
"I've known Ryan forever, when he was 12 and 13 years old and played Junior River Cup for the first time I was his coach. Tomorrow will be a fun match and he's a great golfer," said McCaw. "I would like to get off the tee a little better, but today was OK. I made some putts and hit some good irons."
The 56-year-old Ott, who claimed the Senior Men's City championship in June, showed no signs of slowing down as he extended his summer match winning streak to nine.
"I'm happy to get as far as I have. I haven't played the Men's (City) in a long time and it's from Scott's influence to get out here," said Ott. "My game is coming around good enough that I feel on any given day I can compete. You always want to push yourself and that's why I'm here. My short game has been pretty solid and for being a senior I'm not too far behind these young guys hitting it."
Phegley, the 2015 champion, held off Davis, a former Canadian Tour pro, in a tight match through the back nine.
The former Bradley player held a 3-up lead through 12 holes, but watched his lead slip to 2-up when Davis sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the 375-yard par-4 13th. Phegley matched Davis shot for shot on Nos. 14 through 16 to keep the match at bay, eventually ending it on the 528-yard par-5 17th.
"I figured I had to birdie at least one or two holes coming in, especially with the two par-5s," Phegley said. "My ball striking has gotten a lot better, honestly it's been kind of a disappointing summer for golf. I missed the Mid-Amateur qualifier and didn't make the cut in the (Illinois) State Amateur. But it was nice to see a couple (putts) go in today and I knew that I had to play well to beat him because anything over par is going to be a dogfight."
John Komosa can be reached at 686-3208 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jkom91.