Round of 64: Five Matches to Watch
August 16, 2017 | PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif.
By Michael Trostel, USGA
The final match-play field is nearly set in the 117th U.S. Amateur Championship. Fifty-six spots have been solidified, with the remaining eight to be decided on Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. PDT by a playoff among the 13 players tied at 4-over 144, starting at Riviera’s 10th hole.
It took a little longer for the morning cloud cover to clear on Tuesday, but bluebird skies in the afternoon and cool winds yielded conditions that were ideal for spectators, but challenging for the players. Hayden Wood, 21, of Edmond, Okla., set the 36-hole stroke-play qualifying record at 9-under 131. His impressive start earns him a medal, but the Havemeyer Trophy has proven elusive to recent medalists; Ryan Moore is the last to capture both honors, doing so at Winged Foot Golf Club in 2004.
On the other end of the spectrum, Steven Fox won the 2012 U.S. Amateur as the No. 63 seed, proving that anyone who gets into match play has a chance. This year’s champion will need to win six matches between today and Sunday, but nothing can be overlooked in pursuit of golf’s most coveted amateur title.
Here are five matches to watch on Wednesday (all times PDT):
Maverick McNealy (17) vs. Connor Syme (48) – 9:10 a.m.
This first-round matchup between two 21-year-olds could preview a singles match in next month’s Walker Cup. McNealy, of Portola Valley, Calif., won the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the world’s top-ranked amateur in 2016 and is playing in his ninth USGA championship. A member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team, McNealy played in the 2017 U.S. Open and finished tied for 44th in the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in July. Syme, of Scotland, won the 2016 Australian Amateur and has recorded top-10 finishes in the Scottish Stroke Play (5th), Irish Amateur (T-7th) and Brabazon Trophy (T-8th) in 2017.
Sahith Theegala (24) vs. Gavin Hall (41) – 9:40 a.m.
Theegala, 19, of Chino Hills, Calif., was a quarterfinalist in the 2016 U.S. Amateur and qualified for the 2017 U.S. Open. In February, the junior at Pepperdine University finished tied for 49th in the PGA Tour’s Genesis Open at Riviera, playing with Phil Mickelson in the final two rounds. Like Theegala, Hall advanced to match play in last year’s U.S. Amateur. The 22-year-old from Pittsford, N.Y., finished third in this year’s Porter Cup and was the youngest player in the 2013 U.S. Open field.
Collin Morikawa (12) vs. Blake Collyer (53) – 10:30 a.m.
Through 34 holes, it appeared that Collyer, 20, of Australia, would be heading home after stroke play, but an eagle-birdie finish on Riviera’s 17th and 18th holes secured his place in the match-play draw. Morikawa, 20, of La Canada Flintridge, Calif., was a first-team All American as a sophomore at the University of California and advanced to the Round of 16 in last year’s U.S. Amateur. In 2017, he has won the Northeast Amateur, finished runner-up in the Sunnehanna Amateur and tied for second at the Trans-Mississippi Amateur.
Justin Tereshko (19) vs. John Oda (46) – 12:10 p.m.
Tereshko, 27, of Greensboro, N.C., is the only mid-amateur (25 years or older) to advance to match play. He serves as the head golf coach at Guilford College in Greensboro and won the 2017 North Carolina State Amateur. Oda, 21, of Honolulu, Hawaii, was one of 14 amateurs to compete in the 2017 U.S. Open. He also finished fourth in this year’s Sahalee Players Championship and sixth in the Pacific Coast Amateur.
Philip Barbaree (11) vs. Will Zalatoris (54) – 12:30 p.m.
This matchup of U.S. Junior Amateur champions pits Barbaree (2015) against Zalatoris (2014). Barbaree, 19, of Shreveport, La., was 5 down with eight holes to play before storming back to win his title. The sophomore at LSU is playing in his third U.S. Amateur. Zalatoris, 20, of Plano, Texas, has advanced to match play for the fourth consecutive year. The All-American at Wake Forest University won the Trans-Mississippi Amateur and Pacific Coast Amateur in 2016.
Michael Trostel is the senior content producer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.