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Virginia's Derek Bard reaches U.S. Amateur Championship Finals

For the Virginia junior who needed a couple comeback victories, the entire experience has been unreal.

The clubhouse at Olympia Fields
The clubhouse at Olympia Fields
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

He's already knocked off the top-ranked amateur golfer in the world, and today, Virginia junior Derek Bard has a chance to win the U.S. Amateur, but only if he can take down the reigning NCAA champion.

Bard used four straight come-from-behind victories to reach the semifinals against Japan's Kenta Konishi, who was trying to become the first Japanese golfer to ever win the event. That includes a big back-nine rally for a 1-up victory over Arizona State senior Jon Rahm, who had a big 3-up lead after the 10th hole.

"Stay patient," Bard said. "It's so easy to get ahead of yourself out there, especially when things aren't going your way...if things are going poorly, you just have to stay patient, stay calm, and grind it out."

Bard didn't need any comeback antics against Konishi, winning 3 and 2.

Bard will be facing SMU senior Bryson DeChambeau, who could be the fifth player to win both the NCAA and the U.S. Amateur in the same year, following the footsteps of golf legends Jack Nicklaus (1961), Phil Mickelson (1990), Tiger Woods (1996) and Ryan Moore (2004).

Get to know your two U.S. Amateur finalists:

"It's not much of a reality," Bard said of reaching the finals. "It's all very surreal to me. I came here at the beginning of this week trying to play some solid golf, and whatever happens, happens. A few days later, I'm sitting here with Bryson...talking about the finals."

By reaching the finals, Bard and DeChambeau will be guaranteed invitations to the U.S. Open, and traditionally, the finalists have also been invited to play in the Masters. The winner of the U.S. Amateur will also receive an invitation to the British Open.

This is the second straight year that a Cavalier has reached at least the semifinals. Last year, Denny McCarthy reached the semifinals, exiting in the round of 32 this year.

The U.S. Walker Cup selection committee has often reserved a spot on the six-man team for the winner of the U.S. Amateur. Interestingly, many believe that McCarthy is in the mix for one of the final spots on the team, but a Bard victory today could potentially mean that Bard could take that final spot away from his teammate.

It's been a great year for Virginia golfers, with the 2015 Cavaliers team advancing to the NCAA Finals, McCarthy qualifying for the U.S. Open, and Steve Marino returning to form on the pro tour. Bard 's achievement, should he win Sunday, would top them all.

Tee time for the 36-hole final is at 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday morning. It will be televised on Fox at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.