Tommy Morrison (USGA Photo)
, 18, of Dallas, Texas, won two matches Thursday to earn a spot in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship
. The 75th edition is being played at the par-72, 7,325-yard Daniel Island Club on the Ralston Creek Course.
Morrison, who is competing in his second U.S. Junior Amateur after reaching the first round of match play as a 14-year-old in 2019, defeated Torger Ohe, 16, of Edina, Minn., 3 and 2. In his morning Round-of-32 match, Morrison held off Chi Chun Chen, 18, of Chinese Taipei, 1 up.
“I just stayed steady, especially this afternoon,” said Morrison, who played as a freshman last spring for the University of Texas after enrolling in January. “I gave myself a lot of looks and hit enough fairways to put pressure on. That's a big deal in match play.”
Morrison, who was bogey-free in his second match of the day, faces Will Hartman
, 16, of Charlotte, N.C., in the quarterfinals on Friday morning at 6:45. Hartman, the No. 8 seed who won his state’s Class 4A high school championship in 2022, rallied to defeat Carson Looney 16, of Bethesda, Md., 2 and 1. He hit the flagstick with his approach on the match’s final hole and made the 4-foot birdie putt to advance. Earlier in the day, he toppled Jay Leng Jr., 17, of San Diego, Calif., 4 and 3.
“It feels awesome, said Hartman about being a quarterfinalist. “I haven't really thought about it like that, to be honest. It's just try and keep going, keep winning some matches, and hopefully, it'll all work out.”
The other six quarterfinalists are Rowan Sullivan
, 18, of Charleston, S.C.; Bryan Kim
, 18, of Brookeville, Md.; Billy Davis
, 17, of Spring Valley, Calif.; Joshua Bai
, 17, of New Zealand, Zeqian Fang, 18, of the People’s Republic of China; and Edan Cui, 16, of Stanford, Calif.
At 6-foot-9, Morrison, who played with ex-Dallas Cowboys quarterback and now CBS lead NFL analyst Tony Romo in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Kiawah Island (S.C.) Club in May, combined his usual length off the tee with some strong lag putting in the afternoon.
He two-putted for par from 70 feet to halve the first hole and later converted a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 6 to stay two holes ahead. He moved out to a 3-up lead on the par-3 12th by drilling a 6-iron to within 10 feet for a conceded birdie. In the morning, he used that same club to hit a 222-yard second shot to the front of the green on the par-5 18th to close out his opponent.
“I think that's been an advantage in these matches,” said Morrison. “I've had a little more length than everybody I've played with, and I've hit enough fairways, especially on the par-5s, to where it puts a lot of pressure on [my opponent]. My driver is in a great spot, and it feels great.”
Sullivan won the battle of future college roommates with his 2-up decision over Chase Nevins, 18, of Great Falls, Va. Both players are set to enroll at Vanderbilt University next month. The hometown favorite rallied to reach the quarterfinals with winning pars on the last three holes.
“It was a bit of a pillow fight the first couple holes and I made some mistakes and gave up some easy wins to him,” said Sullivan, who was his state’s top junior two years ago. “And then on the back I think both of us just realized how tired we were, and it was just kind of like giving it all we could.”
Kim finished off both of his matches in dramatic style. He chipped in from 45 feet for birdie to post a 3-and-2 victory over Chase Kyes, 17, of Birmingham, Mich., in the Round of 16, and made an 8-foot birdie putt during a brief period of rain to defeat Tyler Watts, 15, of Huntsville, Ala., 1 up, in the second round of match play.
“I kind of caught it a little thin and it was coming by a little hot and then just hit the pin and dropped,” said Kim, who is competing in his third U.S. Junior Amateur but made match play for the first time. “That was exciting for sure. Got my heart rate up.”
Californians Davis and Cui also had some thrills in their Round-of-16 matches. Davis, the twin brother of two-time U.S. Women’s Open competitor and 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion Anna Davis, converted a 20-yard birdie chip on No. 16 en route to a 2-and-1 triumph over Bryson Hughes, 16, of St. Johns, Fla. Cui made an uphill 12-foot birdie putt to get past Pongsapak Laopakee, 18, of Thailand, in 21 holes.
“I knew there was a little bit of luck in that, but I mean, to go this far and to be able to say I'm like top eight right now in the U.S. Junior, that's incredible,” said Cui, who advanced to match play in his first Junior Amateur last year.
Eight matches in the Round of 32 went to the last hole and beyond. Joseph Buttress, 17, of Australia, recorded a winning par on the 22nd hole, the par-3 fourth, and Bai sank a 10-birdie putt on the 21st hole in his match. The two would meet in the next round with Bai coming alive on the inward nine for a 2-and-1 victory.