U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
Quotable: Round-of-32 Winners
July 20, 2017 | Andover, Kan.
By Stuart Hall and David Shefter
Competitors in the 70th U.S. Junior Amateur who prevailed in their Round-of-32 matches on Thursday morning at Flint Hills National Golf Club had little time to bask in the glory of their triumphs. The players had time to grab lunch and hit a few practice putts or shots before refocusing for their afternoon Round-of-16 matches. But before they teed off, the USGA got a few comments from some of the winners:
Austin Eckroat defeated Yuki Moriyama, 7 and 5
On his thoughts of the match: “Today I didn’t hit it as well, but was still scrambling. Made my first bogey, but I got off to a hot start, which put me up early, and then he made a couple of mistakes and I was able to capitalize."
On making his first bogey of the championship (par-4 seventh hole) and still winning the hole: "It was kind of a relief (joking). I haven’t made a bogey the whole week and that’s probably been the most popular thing about my rounds so far. I wanted to keep it going, obviously, but getting the bogey took a little monkey off my shoulder. … I hit in a bunker on my second shot and didn’t get up and down."
Matthew Wolff defeated Christian Salzer, 7 and 6
Thoughts on the match: "Getting off a strong start has been my biggest key for the week. I was 5 under through nine in my second round of stroke play and in both matches I either birdied or eagled the first hole. Plus, I have been making putts, so giving myself an opportunity on every hole. The putts are dropping right and hopefully they will keep falling."
On getting off the course quickly in the searing heat: "Obviously, finishing early I am able to get out of the heat and get some rest. It’s also great for my confidence because to finish a match that quickly you obviously had to play well and I did. I’ve been offered a few caddies, but I’ve been pushing my own cart and it’s been working. So I will stick with it."
On his match-play philosophy: "I'm a pretty aggressive player in general. I’m a smart-aggressive player and I’ve been working on that. I know which pins to go after and which pins to lean back on. In match play, I’m always going to be aggressive because if you make a big number it’s just one hole."
Cole Hammer defeated Frankie Capan, 2 and 1
A quick thought on the match: “It was a heck of a match. I am not going to lie. It was unbelievable. ... I made a 12-footer for par on 14 to stay 1 up and that was huge. I made about a 3-footer on 15 to win the hole and go 2 up. I missed a shorty on 16 to close out the match, but a nice two-putt on 17 to win it."
On coming back twice from 2-down deficits: “It shows a lot. I kept telling myself there is no way I am losing this match. I think that drive and concentration kind of carried me through when I was 2 down a couple of times. He played great. We both played well. It’s just I came out on top.”
On doing a better job of staying in the present: “Much better. I wasn’t as good as I would have liked to be on the greens in those situations, but all my approach shots and drives were really, really good. And I stuck to my game plan and I really think that helped.”
On facing Garrick Higgo in the Round of 16: “I met him at Sage Valley back in April. He seems like a really good kid. I know he’s from South Africa and he’s a lefty. That’s about all I know.”
Sean Maruyama defeated Cole Ponich, 3 and 2
On overall thoughts of the match: “It went pretty well in the beginning. I got sloppy in the end with a three-putt, but overall it was a good match and good ball striking for the most part.”
On the turning point: “I am not sure there really was one. I started off hot and was 4 under through six [and was 4 up]. That definitely helped me a lot.”
Trent Phillips defeated Joshua Armstrong, 3 and 1
Overall thoughts on the match: “I hung in there. I went up on him early and could have been 3 up or 4 up through four holes, but was 3 up through six holes. I lost seven, and kept battling.”
On the match's turning point: "The turning point of my round, I believe, was eight. I hit it right into a tree and sculled it across the green. Hit it out of the hay to about 6 feet and made bogey. He three-putted from 25 feet to make bogey and we tied the hole.
"On nine, I had about a 20-foot putt [for birdie] and he had about 8 feet. I made mine and he missed his. So that could have been two holes his way instead of two holes my way. So I contribute the win to those two holes."
On three-hole run on Nos. 15-17 to win the match: “I was just trying to make par. If I do that, then he has to make par or better to beat me. I just didn’t want to give him anything. I feel good. I’m ready to get back out there.”
Noah Goodwin defeated Joe Highsmith, 3 and 1
On holding off Highsmith after early 3-up lead: "I just had to try to keep a level head. It was hard out there. I missed three 6-footers in a row, all to win the hole. That kind of got me a little frustrated. But I was able to make a 15-footer on 16 to go 2 up and dormie, and then I hit a good shot on 17 and he didn't hit his best one. I just really have to keep a level head and pace myself. There's still a lot of golf out there."