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 medallist and No.1 seed Brandon Wu, 22, of Scarsdale, N.Y., on Wednesday evening, 2 up, in the Round of 64 of the 119th US 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 US 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 five-over-par 145. About two hours later, he squared off against Wu, the medallist at three-under 137 and the No.11 player in the WAGR.
“Man, it was stressful … 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.” – Austin Squires
Squires took the lead on the 2nd 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-medallist last month in the US 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.
“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.” – Brandon Wu
Twin brothers Parker and Pierceson Coody, 19, of Plano, Texas, qualified with the same three-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 3rd 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.