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U.S. Junior: Quarterfinals set for Friday
Rayhan Thomas of India celebrates with his caddie (USGA)
Rayhan Thomas of India celebrates with his caddie (USGA)
ANDOVER, Kansas (July 20, 2017) -- It's down to just eight players at the U.S. Junior Amateur, with two matches played today in 100-degree Kansas heat.

If you haven't tuned in to FoxSports1 to watch any of the coverage, you should definitely try to do it tomorrow, or record it to view later. It's fun to watch players with totally different approaches to the game. In junior golf, some of the younger players that can't reach the par 5s in two (Cole Hammer of Texas for example) make up for their lack of distance in many ways. Although Cole lost a tough match today, it was fun to watch him play.

This afternoon there were some one sided matches, and a few real battles. Let's start out with one of each as we take a look at this afternoon's action.

Austin Eckroat def. Ryan Gerard (5&4)

OSU commit Austin Eckroat was a man on fire today. After a morning 7&5 win in the morning's round-of-32, Eckroat closed out Rolex Junior All-American Ryan Gerard on the 14th hole. Gerard carded three birdies and an eagle on the 591-yard par-5 5th hole. Despite his solid play, the top-seeded Eckroat is simply playing too well to be bested, rolling in seven birdies in his winning effort.

Matthew Wolff def. Logan McCallister (19 holes)

Matthew Wolff only led in his match for one hole. Wolf won his match in nineteen, after trailing nearly the entire match. Unfortunately for the mostly dominant Logan McCallister, a wet tee-shot on the 19th would make for a double bogey that would cost the young Oklahoma university recruit a shot at the championship.

“You know I can’t go without a fight,” said Wolff, the No. 8 seed who won Nos. 17 and 18 to force an extra hole against McAllister. “[My] putter wasn’t really cooperating in the beginning, and he was draining a lot of putts. But I knew I still could give him a run for his money.”

Wolff will soon be roommates (and golf teammates) with a guy he's going to become even closer acquainted with tomorrow - his quarterfinal opponent Austin Eckroat.

"It sucks to have to play your roommate," he told Fox Sports' Holly Sonders.

Garrick Higgo def. Cole Hammer (2&1)

South African Garrick Higgo closed the door on 2015 U.S. Open qualifier Cole Hammer. Hammer, notorious for being a great putter, struggled down the stretch with the short stick. The match ended when he three putted the 17th. Right after he missed his par putt, he took off his hat as Higgo had just three feet for his par, which he converted.

Aman Gupta def. Trent Phillips (2&1)

North Carolina golfer Aman Gupta finished Trent Phillips, his adversary from South Carolina. Gupta would have control for most of the match which concluded with a par from Gupta on the par-3 17th.

Kaito Onishi vs. Ryan Smith, 2&1

What a day for Ryan Smith, just a junior in high school who resides just miles from the AmateurGolf.com "World HQ" in Carlsbad, Calif. The Japanese

Rayhan Thomas def. Jake Beber-Frankel (5&4)

Indian golfer Rayhan Thomas ended his match early today with a winning par on the tough par-4 14th hole. We'll have to check the past champions list but we think he would be the first Indian Player to win a U.S. Junior, and perhaps a USGA event.

Noah Goodwin def. Sean Maruyama, 5&3

The top rated junior golfer in the U.S., Noah Goodwin looked strong in his win over Sean Maruyama of Japan, getting home on par 5s and displaying a complete game that's going to be tough for anyone to beat.

Ricky Castillo vs. Davis Shore

After going one down to a Shore birdie on No. 1, Ricky Castillo birdied three of the next six holes to take a 2-up lead. But he could never build on his momentum. Davis Shore hung with him, going on a tear starting on No. 14 (par-3 a birdie to square the match), No. 16 (a long par-4 birdie to go 1-up) and No. 18 (where, after a fighting-to-survived Castillo made birdie on No. 17 to square the match again) he answered with a birdie of his own to close out the match, 1-up. Phew!

ROUND OF 32 RECAP

ANDOVER, Kansas (July 20, 2017) — Of the four top seeded players in this years U.S. Junior Amateur, only Austin Eckroat the number one-seeded player will play in Thursday afternoon’s round-of-16. Televised of Fox Sports 1, audiences all over the world will be able to tune in and watch the top amateur junior golfers in the country go head to head in an effort to win the extremely prestigious title of national champion.

It would be hard to believe that Oklahoma State’s Eckroat could improve upon his 5 & 3 victory performance yesterday, but in his match this morning, Eckroat trotted out to a thirteen hole tear in which he would defeat his opponent Yuki Moriyama 7 & 5. Eckroat would not allow Moriyama to win a single hole in the match.

Two UCLA commits played against each other in the round-of-32 this morning. Cole Ponich the number three seed, was upset by his future teammate incoming Campbell Hall, HS senior Sean Maruyama.

Murayama will move on to play to play highly-ranked Texan, Noah Goodwin, this afternoon’s round-of-16 after Murayama's 3-up win

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS

ANDOVER, Kansas (July 19, 2017) -- After an interesting opening round of matches, brackets are set for Thursday’s round-of-32 at the U.S. Junior Amateur. And as we all know to be true about the beautiful game, nobody is safe -- especially in an 18 hole match play format.

In a heated match that would square itself four times and finish on the par-5 18th hole, 63rd seeded high school junior, Alvin Kwak upset this week’s number two seed, Brandon Mancheno. Mancheno would jump out the gate birdieing the par-5 1st, taking a 1-up lead. The second tee-box would be one of only two holes that Mancheno would have the lead.

Kwak holed out on the 420 yard par-4 2nd for an eagle and would nullify Mancheno’s first advantage. And that eagle would jump-start four consecutive winning holes for the Korean, pushing his lead to 3-up by the time the duo reached the seventh tee-box.

Mancheno did not lie down however, managing to inch his way back into the match winning the 7th, 10th, and 11th holes with a par and two birdies, respectively.

Kwak would take advantage on the 13th with a birdie on the 385-yard par-4. Mancheno answered back with a birdie on the long par-3 14th then took his second lead of the day with a winning par on the 15th.

The young Korean underdog, who attends high school in the state of Washington proved to be a strong finisher on Wednesday, playing his final three holes at 1-under-par, making a long curling birdie putt on No. 16, and following that with a huge winning par on the final hole, a 491-yard par 5. After flailing his tee shot into the right trees Kwak punched out, hit a 210-yard hybrid to just off the right side of green and two-putted from 55 feet. That's match play, in a nutshell.

“I was hoping it [the first putt] would stop,” he told the USGA. “I was lucky the greens were slow, because I am not very good with fast greens.”

Kwak's win was easily the upset of the day, as he took out No. 2 seed Mancheno, who opened up medal play qualifying with an 8-under 63 and was the U.S. Junior medalist two years ago.

Top-seeded Austin Eckroat kept his eye on the prize during in his opening match on Wednesday. Eckroat handled his opponent, Skylar Eubank, who had to play his way into the final spot in the match play portion on Tuesday afternoon, beating out nine other golfers in a sudden-death playoff that would last three holes.

Eckroat proved to be too much to handle for the incoming Boise State freshman.

He was the stroke play equivalent -- with the usual concessions -- of 3-under-par in his 15-holes after posting back-to-back rounds of 66 in the medal play portion of the Championship. He would close the match by birdieing the tricky par-4 15th hole with a birdie with a final score of 5 & 3.

OTHER MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

* High school phenom Cole Hammer who competed at a 15-year-old in the 2015 U.S. Open, defeated opponent George McNeely with some ease this afternoon, concluding the match on the 15th hole, 4-up.

* YouTube sensation Angelo Giantsopoulos (his channel started to attract college coaches took on a life of its own and now has over 4000 followers) pulled out an upset win over highly-seeded John Pak. Angelo took the lead after a birdie on the first hole, and never relinquished it, winning with a birdie on the 203-yard 17th hole.

* Defending champion Min Woo Lee, 18, of Australia lost a tough match to Noah Norton, 18, of Chico, Calif., in the first round, 2 and 1. Lee was 2-up early. But Norton, the runner-up in this year’s California State Amateur, won four consecutive holes on the back nine and never trailed thereafter.

“I was kind of bummed when we had to play each other,” said Norton, who reached the Round of 64 in last year’s Junior Amateur. “It’s a match you don’t want to have in the first round, because he’s a great player.”

View results for U.S. Junior Amateur Golf Champonship

ABOUT THE U.S. Junior Amateur

While it is not the oldest competition, the U.S. Junior Amateur is considered the premier junior competition, having been around since 1948. The event is open to male golfers who have not reached their 19th birthday prior to the close of competition and whose USGA Handicap Index does not exceed 6.4. The U.S. Junior is one of 13 national championship conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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