Augusta, Mo. – In a match of Texas teenagers, Cory Whitsett of Houston will meet Anthony Paolucci of Dallas in the 36-hole championship final of the 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur Saturday at Boone Valley Golf Club.
They comprise the youngest set of finalists since 2004 when 15-year-old Sihwan Kim defeated 14-year-old David Chung.
Whitsett, a 15-year-old lefthander, defeated two-time quarterfinalist and Florida State-bound Wesley Graham, 17, of Port Orange, Fla., 6 and 5, in the semifinals.
In the other semifinal, 14-year-old Paolucci, the youngest finalist since 2004, slogged his way to a 20-hole victory over Sean Brannan, 17, of Hollidaysburg, Pa.
“It would be a pretty cool trophy that’s for sure,” said Whitsett of winning the Junior Amateur. “To have my name on that list with all the great players who have won this tournament like Tiger would be pretty special.”
Paolucci, who had not played the match play format until this week, overcame a 2-hole deficit and won the 17th and 18th holes on Brannan bogeys to force extra holes. Brannan, the 2006 Pennsylania High School champion, then missed short putts on the 19th and 20th holes to allow Paolucci to advance.
“I think all the kids I’ve beaten, this is their last year they can play so they have more pressure,” Paolucci said. “I’ve exceeded my expectations and I am playing for fun from here on out.”
Against Graham, Whitsett, a 5-foot-11, 160-pound high school sophomore, won the first five holes, two with birdies, and never trailed.
The unlikely shaky start by Graham, who had defeated the highly regarded Chung and Morgan Hoffman en route to the semifinals, was surprising to Whisett, who remained resolved.
“The thing I was thinking about was the Richard Lee-Kevin Tway match last year,” said Whitsett, an honorable mention junior All-American who won three junior events as 14-year-old in 2006. “Kevin was 4 up and ended up losing that match.” Tway was the defending champion in 2006.
Earlier in the day, Whitsett defeated Chris Cho, 17, of Kent, Wash., in the quarterfinals. He also eliminated stroke play medalist Seung Yul Noh of Korea in the third round. In his quarterfinal match, Paolucci birdied the 18th hole from 20 feet to outlast junior golf All-American and Oklahoma State recruit Peter Uihlein, 1 up.
Both finalists are exempt from qualifying for the 2007 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club in San Francisco next month.
Play was suspended at 4:33 because of dangerous weather with the Paolucci-Brannan match on the 13th green and all square. Play was re-started at 5:12 p.m. after a 39-minute delay.
The USGA is the national governing body of golf in this country and Mexico, a combined territory that includes more than half the game’s golfers and golf courses.
The Association's most visible role is played out each season in conducting 13 national championships, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open. Ten additional USGA national championships are exclusively for amateurs, and include the Junior Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women's Amateur.
Story written by Pete Kowalski, a USGA Manager of Media Relations. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Augusta, Mo. – Results of Friday’s quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of match play at the 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship played at the 6,810/6,894-yard, par-71 Boone Valley Golf Club:
Cory Whitsett, Houston, Texas (144) def. Chris Cho, Kent, Wash. (146), 19 holes
Wesley Graham, Port Orange, Fla. (146) def. Sean Dale, Jacksonville, Fla. (140), 7 and 5
Anthony Paolucci, Dallas, Texas (146) def. Peter Uihlein, Bradenton, Fla. (147), 1 up
Sean Brannan, Hollidaysburg, Pa. (150) def. Michael McGowan, Southern Pines, N.C. (145), 1 up
Whitsett def. Graham, 6 and 5
Paolucci def. Brannan, 20 holes
Augusta, Mo. – Pairing for Saturday’s 36-hole final round of match play at the 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship played at the 6,810/6,894-yard, par-71 Boone Valley Golf Club (times are Central):
8:30 a.m./1:30 p.m. – Cory Whitsett, Houston, Texas (144) vs. Anthony Paolucci, Dallas, Texas (146)
View results for U.S. Junior Amateur Golf Champonship