Sam Horsfield understands that, and yet in the midst of
stroke play at the 67th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at The Club at Carlton
Woods’ Nicklaus Course, he is preparing his mind for the match-play portion
should he advance.
On Monday, Horsfield, 17, of England, took a positive first
step after shooting an opening-round 4-under-par 68. Trailing first-round
leader Davis Riley by a stroke, Horsfield put himself in a good position to
advance to Wednesday’s 64-player match-play bracket.
“Yes, I will take it,” said Horsfield, who is making his
third successive U.S. Junior Amateur appearance.
Horsfield is one of three players in this week’s field who
reached the match play-bracket of last week’s U.S. Amateur Public Links
Championship at Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton, Kan. Horsfield and Easton
Paxton, of Riverton, Wyo., each lost in the round of 32, while Zecheng Dou, of
the People’s Republic of China, lost in the round of 64.
Dou and Paxton were both eliminated by Jordan Niebrugge, the
2013 APL champion.
“Playing last week just gets me into the match-play
mindset,” Horsfield said. “Almost all of the other tournaments I play are
stroke play, but once I played match play I loved it.
“You’re playing your opponent one on one and the other 154
players don’t matter at that point. You’re not really playing the course
either, you’re actually playing your opponent, which is neat.”
In a combined four U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Junior
Amateur championship appearances, Horsfield has a 7-4 match-play record,
including a quarterfinal appearance in last year’s Junior Amateur.
Dou, 17, who is ranked 42nd in the World Amateur Golf
Ranking™, has a combined 8-4 record in USGA championships, including
quarterfinal appearances in last year’s APL and Junior Amateur.
“I like match play because you can track where you are
[against other players],” said Dou, who shot an even-par 72 in Monday’s opening
If the last two U.S. Junior Amateurs are a barometer, then
big things may be in order for Dou. In 2012, Dou reached the round of 16. Last
year, he went a step further and reached the quarterfinals.
Compared to Dou and Horsfield, Paxton has little USGA match-play
experience, having only reached the round of 32 at last week’s APL. Earlier
this year, however, Paxton won the Wyoming State Golf Association’s Match Play
“I love match play,” said Paxton, echoing the sentiment Dou
and Horsfield. “Winning a match last week [at the APL] showed me that I can
play at the highest amateur level. So, mentally, it was good for me.”
Paxton, who opened with a 3-over 75, said the tactical
mindset changes in match play.
“You can be a bit more fearless and go at pins more, because
if you have a bad hole, you just lose the hole,” he said.
A golfer must reach match play first, though. And that
requires one shot, one hole and one round at a time.
“Hopefully, I can go out and have a good round [Tuesday] and
get in this thing,” Paxton said.
Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has previously
appeared on USGA websites.