Austin Squires, 22, of Union, Ky., who was the last man to make the match-play field in a 27-for-3 playoff on Wednesday morning, eliminated medalist and No. 1 seed Brandon Wu, 22, of Scarsdale, N.Y., on Wednesday evening, 2 up, in the Round of 64 of the 119th U.S. Amateur Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club.
“Man, it was stressful,” said Squires, a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati who is playing in his third U.S. Amateur. “I was one putt away from not even being in match play this morning, and then I got through and had to start all over again against Brandon Wu.”
Squires, who is No. 146 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), parred the fourth playoff hole on Pinehurst No. 4 to earn the third spot among 27 players who completed 36 holes at 5-over-par 145. About two hours later, he squared off against Wu, the medalist at 3-under 137 and the No. 11 player in the WAGR.
Squires took the lead on the second hole and though Wu came back to square the match twice, Squires never trailed and took the lead for good on No. 10. Wu made a birdie on the par-3 17th to send the match to No. 18, but needing to win the hole, he sailed his tee shot well to the right and conceded Squires’ birdie after missing his own par putt.
“He scrambled really well; hats off to him,” said Wu, who helped the USA win a mixed-team gold medal at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, on Sunday. “He competed well and hit some good shots down the stretch. It was definitely frustrating because I felt like I was playing really well. Couldn’t really convert any birdies. It was playing a little bit softer today, a little bit easier, so I think they were definitely out there.”
“It sounds so cliché, but I just tried to stay patient,” said Squires, who was eliminated in the quarterfinals last year by eventual champion Viktor Hovland. “If you keep hitting good shots into good positions, it’s hard not to be successful.”
No. 2 seed Ricky Castillo, 18, of Yorba Linda, Calif., rolled to a 5-and-3 win over Chad Sewell, of Conroe, Texas. Castillo, who was a stroke-play co-medalist last month in the U.S. Junior Amateur at Inverness, won six out of seven holes on the back nine and closed out Sewell with a birdie on the 193-yard, par-3 15th hole.
Twin brothers Parker and Pierceson Coody, 19, of Plano, Texas, qualified with the same 3-over-par score of 143, then posted convincing victories on Wednesday. No. 28 seed Parker ousted Noah Norton, of Chino, Calif., 7 and 6, while No. 30 seed Pierceson posted a 6-and-5 win over Sahith Theegala, of Chino Hills, Calif. The brothers, who are the grandsons of 1971 Masters champion Charles Coody, are sophomores at the University of Texas, where they helped the Longhorns to an NCAA team runner-up finish.
Julien Sale of France, No. 270 in the WAGR, rallied from 2 down with two holes to play, forcing extra holes with a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 18. He then eliminated Austin Eckroat in 19 holes when Eckroat, a junior at Oklahoma State who is No. 24 in the WAGR, missed a short par putt to extend the match.
No. 52 seed Maxwell Moldovan, of Uniontown, Ohio, ousted Stewart Hagestad, of Newport Beach, Calif., who is No. 7 in the WAGR, 3 and 2. Moldovan, 17, a two-time Ohio high school champion, took the lead with a birdie on the third hole and was never tied.
Shiryu (Leo) Oyo, of Japan, rallied from 3 down through 12 holes, winning five consecutive holes over Puwit Anupansuebsai of Thailand for a 2-and-1 victory.
The Round of 32 and the Round of 16 are scheduled for Thursday, starting at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. EDT, respectively. The quarterfinal round will be played on Friday afternoon starting at 2:30. The championship will be on FS1 from 4 to 7 p.m. EDT both Thursday and Friday, with live streaming on usamateur.com from noon to 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday.
The state of Texas led the way with 10 players in the match-play field of 64, just ahead of California with nine. Host state North Carolina was next with five players. Twelve foreign countries were represented, led by Australia and England with three players each.
Four of the 32 Round-of-64 matches pitted players from Texas against ones from California, and the Lone Star State and the Golden State split the matches. Isaiah Salinda and Ricky Castillo won for California, while the Coody brothers bested their opponents.
Three of the five North Carolina players who reached match play advanced to the Round of 32. Akshay Bhatia, of Wake Forest, who is No. 5 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, earned a 5-and-3 win over RJ Manke, of Lakewood, Wash. Parker Gillam of Cary and Blake Wagoner of Cornelius also moved on, while Tar Heel State residents Ryan Girard of Raleigh and Henry Shimp of Charlotte were eliminated.
Cohen Trolio, 16, of West Point, Miss., is the youngest player left in the Round of 32. Trolio, the No. 57 seed, defeated No. 8 Trevor Werbylo, 2 up. He is the son of V.J. Trolio, the teaching professional at Old Waverly Golf Club, which hosted the U.S. Women’s Amateur last week, won by Gabriela Ruffels of Australia.
Cole Hammer, the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and a semifinalist in this championship last year at Pebble Beach, was eliminated in the 27-for-3 playoff on Wednesday morning. Hammer, who shot 75-70 in the stroke play portion of the championship, missed a 3-footer to make bogey on the first playoff hole. He was already named to the USA Walker Cup Team by virtue of his No. 1 position in the WAGR.
Four players in the Round of 32 also were in the Round of 32 last year at Pebble Beach: John Augenstein, Alex Fitzpatrick, Isaiah Salinda and Austin Squires. Of the 32 players left, three are current players at Arizona State: Alejandro Del Ray, Blake Wagoner and Julien Sale. There are two players from the University of Texas, twins Parker and Pierceson Coody; and there are two from Wake Forest: Alex Fitzpatrick and Parker Gillam.
“I felt really good coming here. I asked my dad if it was normal not to have nerves at a big tournament like this, because I haven’t had any nerves all week really. Just mainly because I’m confident here.” – Cooper Dossey, who won the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst in June and won his first match on Wednesday
“Obviously, all 64 guys that made it to match play are incredible players. It doesn’t feel as disappointing as losing to a 16 seed in basketball. Definitely a little bit disappointing, but really looking forward to the future because I think I showed that I can play all summer.” – Brandon Wu, the stroke-play medalist who lost to No. 64 Austin Squires
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