TRUCKEE, Calif. – Zecheng Dou was never worried about going home early.
Not even after a first-round 80 in stroke-play qualifying on Monday that left him in a precarious position to make match play at the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur at Martis Camp Club.
Dou chalked up his poor performance to mental fatigue after advancing to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links last week in the heat and humidity of Lorton, Va.
“I don’t know what happened that day,” said Dou. “I never thought of heading home [early] because I knew I was coming back.”
The 16-year-old from the People’s Republic of China went over all of his shots that night. And on Tuesday, Dou turned it around, carding a 2-under 70 to get inside the match-play cutline by a stroke.
Two days later, he is into the quarterfinals after dispatching Zachary Bauchou in the third round Thursday afternoon, 2 and 1. Earlier on Thursday, Dou eliminated Ryan Ruffels, 3 and 2. He opened match play on Wednesday with a 4-and-3 victory over 13th-seeded Tyler Moore.
“After that [first round], I went all under par,” said Dou of his play over the last three days.
At the APL, Dou fell to eventual champion Jordan Niebrugge in the quarterfinals, 1 down. Last year at the U.S. Junior Amateur, his first USGA championship, he was eliminated in the Round of 16 by Maverick McNealy, 3 and 1.
“Right now, my game is in pretty good shape,” said Dou, the last of the five Chinese players in this week’s field still playing. “If I continue playing under par, I think I will be fine with anybody.”
Move Over Mr. Jones
Sam Horsfield is beating his opponents this week the way Bob Jones used to dominate his foes in the late 1920s at the U.S. Amateur.
Through three match-play rounds of the Junior Amateur, Horsfield, 16, of England, has yet to go beyond the 13th hole and he has registered 14 birdies. He won his first-round match on Wednesday, 7 and 6, over Dean Sakata, and followed up with an 8-and-7 second-round win over Nick Hardy on Thursday morning. Just before darkness fell on Thursday, he beat Aaron Terrazas, 6 and 5, in his closest match of the championship.
“I’m playing good,” said Horsfield, who earlier this summer shot a 61 in qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Public Links, where he fell in the Round of 16 to Zecheng Dou. “I didn’t play as well this afternoon, but I still played pretty good.”
When Jones claimed the 1928 U.S. Amateur at Brae Burn Country Club in West Newton, Mass., he won his last three matches – all 36-hole affairs – by 14-and-13, 13-and-12, and 10-and-9 margins, the latter over Great Britain’s Thomas Perkins.
The last time anyone at the Junior Amateur dominated two consecutive matches like Horsfield has was Kevin Silva in 2001 at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, where he opened with wins of 8 and 6, and 7 and 6. Silva eventually lost in the quarterfinals to Andrew Dresser.
If anything, he is giving good friend and PGA Tour winner Ian Poulter plenty to Tweet about. Poulter has been raving about the youngster through Twitter since Horsfield won the 72-hole Florida State Amateur by 11 strokes earlier this summer.
“Yeah, he’s a good friend,” said Horsfield, who was born in Manchester, but moved to the United States when he was 5. He now resides in Davenport, Fla., just outside of Orlando.
Horsfield, who is still an English citizen, doesn’t know if his performances this summer will catch the eye of The R&A, which selects the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup Team. He has not competed in any major events in Great Britain for awhile, and said that most of the big championships in the U.K. conflict with the competitions here in the U.S.
“We’ll just have to see what happens,” said Horsfield on the Walker Cup.
My Old (Western) Kentucky Home
John Augenstein didn’t come to the Junior Amateur with huge expectations. Before Thursday, he had only played 36 holes in a day once – and that was the sectional qualifier for this championship. But the Owensboro, Ky., resident has quickly made a name for himself at Martis Camp, and is three wins away from becoming the second western Kentucky native to claim a USGA championship in 2013.
Two weeks ago, Kenny Perry, of Franklin, Ky., won the U.S. Senior Open at Omaha (Neb.) Country Club with weekend rounds of 64-63.
Augenstein, at 15 the youngest player remaining, was on his way to shooting an extremely low number in his 1-up, third-round win over Brian Carlson. He was four under par, with an eagle 3 at the par-5 fourth hole, through eight holes when dangerous weather forced a 113-minute weather delay.
All of his rhythm and good thoughts suddenly evaporated.
“It really killed our momentum,” said Augenstein. “You get in a rhythm. You sit down, stretch and then warm up [again]. It tires you out more than you need to be.”
Augenstein endured a second weather delay of 74 minutes before finally pulling out the win. Earlier on Thursday, he eliminated medalist and 2010 champion Jim Liu in 20 holes.
“That was probably the most nervous I’ve been on the first tee,” said Augenstein. “But I do think he had more to lose than I did. I wasn’t supposed to win.”
Junior Career Ends
With his 19-hole defeat to John Augenstein in the second round, Jim Liu saw his career at the Junior Amateur come to an end.
And it was quite a run for the 17-year-old from Smithtown, N.Y.
In 2010 at the age of 14, Liu surpassed Tiger Woods as the youngest winner of this championship, and last year, he was the runner-up. He also joined Woods and Willie Wood as the only multiple stroke-play qualifying medalists in the event’s history. He also received medals for being a three-, four- and five-time Junior Amateur participant.
Liu finished with a 15-4 match-play record.
“Looking back, I didn’t do too poorly,” said Liu, who will attend Stanford in the fall. “I think I have every medal that this championship has to offer. I’m disappointed [that I lost], but I still did pretty well.”
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.