Tommy Morrison (USGA Photo)
Coming in as one of the favorites, Tommy Morrison lived up to the hype and took care of business, at least in the stroke-play portion of the championship, earning medalist honors at the 75th U.S. Junior Amateur.
Morrison, 18, of Dallas, Texas, the second oldest player in the field, carded a 3-under par 69 on Tuesday on Daniel Island Club’s Ralston Creek Course to earn the top seed as the championship moves to match play.
The round followed up a 66 on Monday that left him in a five-way tie for the lead. Morrison had 10 birdies and one eagle over his 36 holes of stroke play, which took place at both the Ralston Creek and Beresford Creek Courses, resulting in an 8-under par 135.
Morrison, who enrolled early at the University of Texas and played in seven events in the spring of 2023, earlier this year competed alongside former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, also in South Carolina nearby on Kiawah Island.
“It means a lot,” said Morrison of medalist honors. “I want to win as many medals and trophies as I can. Any USGA medal is a good one.”
Morrison’s round was highlighted by a strong birdie-birdie finish, which came on the heels of a double bogey on the par-4 480-yard 16th hole. He hit a 117-yard approach shot to set up a short birdie putt on the par-4 17th, before converting a 7-footer on 18 for birdie courtesy of an 87-yard pitch shot approach.
“I knew in the back of my head I needed to finish well after the double on [No.] 16 if I wanted to get that medal,” said Morrison.
Andrew Gregory, 17, of Spartanburg, S.C., one of five South Carolina natives in the field, finished just one back of Morrison after shooting rounds of 66-70 for a two-day total of 7-under par 136. Gregory, who will begin his freshman season at Liberty University in the fall, is playing in his third straight U.S. Junior Amateur. This is his first time advancing to match play.
“There is always a chance,” said Gregory about the match-play format. “Just let the other person make all the mistakes and just keep it in the fairway. Don’t show any emotion. Just make pars all day, and when birdies come, birdies come.”
Tyler Sanford, 16, of Montgomery, Texas, finished two back of the leader at 6-under par, which consisted of two-straight bogey-free rounds.
“I’ve gone bogey-free in a couple rounds [before], but I’ve never done it in back-to-back days,” said Sanford. “That’s pretty cool. Yesterday was a little more nerve-wracking, especially the first few holes, but today I was able to settle in and just go out there and post a good score.”
A quintet of competitors at posted a 5-under par 138 overall, including first-round co-leaders Joshua Bai, 17, of New Zealand, and Will Hartman, 16, of Charlotte, N.C.
The cut for match play came at 2-over-par 145. A 14-man playoff will be needed to determine the final seven spots in the bracket.
Three of the five players from South Carolina made the cut; Andrew Gregory (Spartanburg), Rowan Sullivan (Charleston), and Matt Moloney (Daniel Island).
Other notables to make match play: Jackson Byrd, son of PGA Tour professional Jonathan Byrd; Billy Davis, twin brother of 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion Anna Davis; Eric Lee, last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur semifinalist.
Ratchanon Tk Chantananuwat, the highest-ranked player in the field, made a remarkable turnaround after struggling to a 5-over par 76 on Monday. He birdied three of his last five holes to shoot a 3-under par 69 on Tuesday. He will be part of Wednesday’s playoff.
ABOUT THE U.S. Junior Amateur
While it is not the
competition, the U.S. Junior Amateur is
considered the premier junior competition,
having been around since 1948. The event
open to male golfers who have not
their 19th birthday prior to the close of
competition and whose USGA Handicap
does not exceed 6.4. The U.S. Junior is
14 national championship conducted
by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for
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