Andrew Orischak, 16, of Hilton Head Island S.C., won three matches Friday, including a 3-and-2 semifinal victory over Eugene Hong, 15, of Sanford, Fla., to advance to the championship match of the weather-delayed 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the 7,366-yard, par-72 Colleton River Plantation Club’s Dye Course. The other semifinal between Philip Barbaree, 17, of Shreveport, La., and Won Jun Lee, 16, of the Republic of Korea, was suspended due to darkness with the match all square through 17 holes.
Inclement weather pushed the start of the semifinals back to 5:05 p.m. EDT. The championship has been delayed five times over the last four days. Play is scheduled to resume on Saturday at 7 a.m., with the scheduled 36-hole championship match to follow.
The U.S. Junior Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
“I had to really step up my game and I did,” said Orischak, who played 48 holes today after resuming his suspended Round of 16 match early this morning. “I played probably the best round I had all week.”
Orischak, who earned a spot in next month’s U.S. Amateur field by reaching the final, grabbed a 2-up advantage over Hong by making an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 9 and chipping to within short range for a conceded birdie on the par-5 11th.
Hong, the runner-up in the 2014 Florida Class 1A state championship, later sank a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 14 and seemed to have momentum on his side when Orischak’s tee shot on the par-4 15th settled in the mulch behind an oak tree. However, he curved a 165-yard 9-iron onto to the putting surface and sank a 21-footer for birdie that turned the tide.
“There was a tiny gap in the tree about 15 feet right of the pin,” said Orischak, who later ended the match on No. 16 by blasting from a left greenside bunker to within 2½ feet for a conceded birdie. “Luckily, I hit a nice draw through there. I think that was the turning point in the match.”