OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. — Both big names and new faces dot the final 16 at Olympia Fields as the match play field dwindles down at the 115th U.S. Amateur Championship.
The most intriguing matchup on Thursday afternoon features two California kids, and was a result of two resounding 5-and-4 victories in the round of 32. Stanford superstar junior Maverick McNealy, ranked No. 2 in the world by the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Rankings, took down another Maverick, Antcliff of Australia, while reigning NCAA Individual champion Bryson DeChambeau, a senior at SMU, defeated 2015 SEC Championship winner Matt NeSmith.
DeChambeau, of Clovis, Calif., holds the mark for second largest margin of victory thus far. His 8-and-6 pounding of Robert Salomon in Wednesday's first round was just edged by another big victory, Brad Nurski of Missouri who handed Josh Munn of New Zealand an embarrassing 8-and-7 loss.
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Nurski, the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up, bowed out in his second round match, losing a hard-fought 2-and-1 to Matthew Perrine of Texas. The match was all-square through 15 but Nurski bogeyed consecutive holes at 16 and 17.
Perrine, who just finished his freshman year at Auburn University, will face another mid-amateur player — Illinois' Todd Mitchell — in the round of 16. Mitchell's accomplishments as a mid-amateur player include finishing runner-up at the 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur and reaching the quarters in 2013.
Mitchell upset University of South Florida golfer Chase Koepka, brother of PGA Tour player Brooks Koepka, in Wednesday's first round.
“These kids are so good, I’m not sure how I’m doing it right now,” Mitchell told the USGA.
"Last Man In" Advances To Sweet 16
University of Michigan sophomore Kyle Mueller, who took down medalist Brett Coletta of Australia on Wednesday afternoon, advanced to the sweet 16 during his first match of the day by handing Illinois native Alex Burge a 2-up defeat.
Said Mueller of his first-round triumph over the No .1 seed Coletta: “I really didn't have too many expectations. I wanted to make match play. I feel like I'm a pretty good match player. I love it. Really anything can happen, and it's kind of cliche but you really do have to take it one shot at a time and one hole at a time. That's what I tried to feed off of, and it seemed to work.”
Mueller, who is playing in his first USGA championship, is in his freshman year in Ann Arbor and finished as a second-team All-Big Ten selection. His year has been marked with solid performances, including tying for second at the NCAA West Regional, placing sixth at the Porter Cup, and advancing through U.S. Open Local Qualifying. He's proven to be a stellar match play competitor, going 4-0 for the Wolverines during this year's Big Ten Match Play Championship.
Mueller's round-of-16 opponent is Japan's Kenta Konishi, who defeated University of Illinois golfer and Belgium native Thomas Detry in the second round.
Top-ranked Rahm Among Final 16 Players
Jon Rahm, the Spaniard who is ranked No. 1 in the world in both the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Rankings and the World Amateur Golf Rankings, beat soon-to-be Wake Forest freshman Cameron Young of New York 7-and-6 on Wednesday morning to move on to the third round to face another junior golfer, Daniel Wetterich of Ohio.
Rahm, a senior at Arizona State, birdied four of his first 11 holes, but truly benefited from his pars considering Young made bogey or worse on five of the 12 holes played.
Rahm's first-round matchup was quite the opposite, as cross-state rival George Cunningham of the University of Arizona took Rahm to the 21st hole before Rahm advanced with a birdie at the par-4 3rd hole.
Wetterich, a native of Cincinnati who will begin his collegiate career at Xavier University this fall, took down Sam Horsfield of England in the second round, capitalizing on three straight wins from holes 13 to 15.
More to come later this evening once the round-of-16 matchups have concluded at Olympia Fields.