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Quarterfinals Set for U.S. Amateur
Eight players have qualified for the quarterfinals in the 112th U.S. Amateur after a long Thursday at Cherry Hills Country Club south of Denver. One of those who didn't advance was stroke-play medalist Bobby Wyatt. Quarterfinal play begins Friday at 8:30 a.m. MDT.
Justin Thomas, 19, of Goshen, Ky., defeated Wyatt, 1 up, in a match-up of college teammates to advance at the par-71, 7,409-yard layout. Thomas and Wyatt, University of Alabama team members who are fifth and sixth, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, went back and forth in a match where each player held a least a two-hole lead. Thomas, who won the 2012 Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's top collegian, went ahead for good by recovering well from a poor tee shot and making a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th.
"I felt I could carry that bunker with a driver," said Thomas, who had reached the U.S. Amateur's round of 32 the previous two years. "I just killed it, double-crossed it. The ball could have gone anywhere. I turned down a 9-iron (with his second shot) and wanted to get it anywhere on the fairway. It worked out well."
Wyatt, 20, the medalist in record-tying fashion, rallied from three holes down to defeat Matthew Stieger of Australia in the morning's second round. Against Thomas, he won the 13th and 15th with pars to draw even, but sent his approach over the 17th green while his opponent made the go-ahead birdie.
Cheng-Tsung Pan, 20, of Chinese Taipei, reached the quarterfinals of a USGA championship for the first time since 2007 when he was a 15-year-old at the U.S. Amateur. Pan, who tied for second in stroke play behind Wyatt, and has played in five of the last six U.S. Amateurs, saw a three-hole lead evaporate against opponent Andrew Presley, 20, of Fort Worth, Texas. Pan birdied the par-4 16th by reaching the green from a fairway bunker and converting a 35-foot putt.
Pan, who plays on the University of Washington golf team with the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, Chris Williams - who also advanced, explained what has changed since his last USGA quarterfinal appearance. "My English is better and I feel good about myself," he said. "My game has improved. I changed my swing and both my short game and putting is better."
The 20-year-old Williams, a native of Moscow, Idaho, broke open a tight third-round match with France's Edouard Espana, 20, by winning the opening three holes on the inward nine with a par and two birdies for a 3-and-2 triumph. Williams, a member of the victorious 2011 USA Walker Cup Team, was also an easy 5-and-3 winner over Adam Stephenson of Greenville, N.C. in the second round.
"He bogeyed 10 and I birdied 11," Williams said of his match with Espana. "At 12, we both had putts of about 40 feet. I got a pretty good read off of his. It's one of those putts you don't expect to make but if you do it's a bonus. I was just delighted to see it drop."
Michael Weaver, 21, of Fresno, Calif., and Steven Fox, 21, of Hendersonville, Tenn., have each registered three match-play victories after surviving Tuesday's 17-for-14 playoff to make the 64-player bracket. In the third round, Weaver sank a birdie on the 19th hole to beat Albin Choi of Canada, while Fox won the last two holes for a 2-up victory over Zack Munroe of Charlotte, N.C.
Australian Oliver Goss, the youngest player remaining in the field at age 18, parred Nos. 16 and 17 to defeat 27-year-old Bobby Leopold, 2 and 1, in the third round. Goss, who recently captured the Western Australian Amateur, will be a freshman at the University of Tennessee in the fall. Portugal's Ricardo Gouveia, 21, made five birdies in a stretch of seven holes for a 5-and-3 victory over Devon Purser to join the group of eight U.S. Amateur quarterfinalists.
Douglas Hanzel, 55, of Alpharetta, Ga., and Todd White, 44, of Spartanburg, S.C., failed to advance through the second round. Hanzel was the oldest competitor in U.S. Amateur match play since 1979, while White played in the last Amateur at Cherry Hills 22 years ago.
The U.S. Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. The 2012 U.S. Amateur consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Sunday, starting at 8:30 a.m. MDT.
The eight players reaching the quarterfinals earned an exemption from qualifying for the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and are exempt from local qualifying for the 2013 U.S. Open Championship.
Round of 32
Bobby Wyatt, Mobile, Ala. (132) def. Matthew Stieger, Australia (141), 2 up
Justin Thomas, Goshen, Ky. (139) def. Max Homa, Valencia, Calif. (139), 3 and 1
Bobby Leopold, Cranston, R.I. (142) def. Devin Miertschin, El Paso, Texas (138), 4 and 3
Oliver Goss, Australia (138) def. Michael Miller, Brewster, N.Y. (142), 20 holes
Devon Purser, Clearfield, Utah (143) def. Adam Schenk, Vincennes, Ind. (141), 21 holes
Ricardo Gouveia, Portugal (140) def. Patrick Duncan Jr., Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. (143), 3 and 2
Michael Weaver, Fresno, Calif. (143) def. Patrick Rodgers, Avon, Ind. (141), 2 up
Albin Choi, Canada (142) def. Thomas Pieters, Belgium (143), 4 and 3
Steven Fox, Hendersonville, Tenn. (143) def. Douglas Hanzel, Savannah, Ga. (141), 1 up
Zack Munroe, Charlotte, N.C. (139) def. Todd White, Spartanburg, S.C. (142), 2 and 1
Eduoard Espana, France (143) def. Justin Shin, Canada (141), 1 up
Chris Williams, Moscow, Idaho (138) def. Adam Stephenson, Greenville, N.C. (140), 5 and 3
Cheng-Tsung Pan, Chinese Taipei (134) def. Gavin Green, Malaysia (141), 3 and 1
Andrew Presley, Fort Worth, Texas (142) def. Talor Gooch, Midwest City, Okla. (139), 1 up
Brandon Hagy, Westlake Village, Calif. (137) def. Paul Misko, Thousand Oaks, Calif. (141), 5 and 4
Patrick Newcomb, Benton, Ky. (143) def. Michael Hebert, Alpharetta, Ga. (140), 19 holes
Round of 16
Justin Thomas, Goshen, Ky. (139) def. Bobby Wyatt, Mobile, Ala. (132), 1 up
Oliver Goss, Australia (138) def. Bobby Leopold, Cranston, R.I. (142), 2 and 1
Ricardo Gouveia, Portugal (140) def. Devon Purser, Clearfield, Utah (143), 6 and 4
Michael Weaver, Fresno, Calif. (143) def. Albin Choi, Canada (142), 19 holes
Steven Fox, Hendersonville, Tenn. (143) def. Zack Munroe, Charlotte, N.C. (139), 2 up
Chris Williams, Moscow, Idaho (138) def. Eduoard Espana, France (143), 3 and 2
Cheng-Tsung Pan, Chinese Taipei (134) vs. Andrew Presley, Fort Worth, Texas (142), 2 up
Brandon Hagy, Westlake Village, Calif. (137) def. Patrick Newcomb, Benton, Ky. (143), 3 and 2
Pairings for Friday's Quarterfinal Round
8:30 a.m. - Justin Thomas, Goshen, Ky. (139) vs. Oliver Goss, Australia (138)
8:45 a.m. - Ricardo Gouveia, Portugal (140) vs. Michael Weaver, Fresno, Calif. (143)
9:00 a.m. - Steven Fox, Hendersonville, Tenn. (143) vs. Chris Williams, Moscow, Idaho (138)
9:15 a.m. - Cheng-Tsung Pan, Chinese Taipei (134) vs. Brandon Hagy, Westlake Village, Calif. (137)
The above report is courtesy of the USGA. For more information, visit www.usga.org. For the latest match-play results, visit http://www.usga.org/ChampEventScore.aspx?id=17179869326&year=2012&type=reversetree.