All three medalists plus Bhatia, Thorbjornsen advance at U.S. Jr
William Moll (USGA/Darren Carroll)
William Moll (USGA/Darren Carroll)

The three medalists at the U.S. Junior had separated themselves as some of the country’s top juniors even before arriving at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio this week. Ricky Castillo, William Moll and William Mouw have continued to let their games do the talking. All three advanced in Wednesday’s first round of match play.

One of the top performances of the day came from Mouw, the No. 3 seed, who defeated Jake Beber-Frankel, 6 and 4. Mouw, 18, of Chino, Calif., had the shot of the day on the par-4 11th, which was playing at 261 yards, when he hit a 3-iron to within a foot of the hole for a conceded eagle and a 4-up lead.

Moll, for his part, won the first two holes against Josh Bartels of Lincoln, Neb., and went on to a 5-and-3 victory. Remarkably, Moll is competing in his first USGA championship. He hit his approach shot on the par-4 10th hole to 8 feet and drained the putt to kick-start a streak of three straight winning holes that sealed his win.

“It was really awesome; it was like a whole new experience playing singles match play,” said Moll, who will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall. “You only have to beat one guy. You can adjust your play off how they play.”

Castillo had the closest match of the three. Drew Salyers took him to the 18th hole before Castillo, the No. 2 seed, won 1 up. Castillo had been 4 up at the turn before letting Salyers back into the match.

The biggest upset of the day came from Sean Curran, the No. 58 seed. Curran, of New Lenox, Ill., survived an 8-for-7 playoff on Wednesday morning by sinking a 20-foot birdie putt, then defeated No. 7 seed Brett Roberts, 2 and 1. No. 55 seed Yuki Moriyama, of Japan, defeated No. 10 Karl Vilips, of Australia, 4 and 2. Two years ago this week, Vilips, 17, won the Southern Amateur.

Defending champion Michael Thorbjornsen, of Wellesley, Mass., and 2018 runner-up Akshay Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., both advanced as the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds, respectively. Thorbjornsen defeated Phichaksn Maichon, 5 and 4, while Bhatia defeated Luke Morgan, 4 and 2.

“I'm just glad it's just one match today,” Thorbjornsen said. “Got to really restore your batteries from the past few days, and then tomorrow, whatever happens it's going to be a long day either way. Even if you win the first match and lose the second or win both, it's still long. You're still playing 36 holes.”

Information from the USGA used in this report

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 14 national championship conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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