U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
Half of U.S. Junior Amateur Final Match Set July 24, 2015 | Bluffton, S.C. By Brian DePasquale, USGA

Andrew Orischak earned a spot in Saturday's championship final, where he'll face either Philip Barbaree or Won Jun Lee. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

Andrew Orischak, 16, of Hilton Head Island S.C., won three matches Friday, including a 3-and-2 semifinal victory over Eugene Hong, 15, of Sanford, Fla., to advance to the championship match of the weather-delayed 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the 7,366-yard, par-72 Colleton River Plantation Club’s Dye Course. The other semifinal between Philip Barbaree, 17, of Shreveport, La., and Won Jun Lee, 16, of the Republic of Korea, was suspended due to darkness with the match all square through 17 holes.

Inclement weather pushed the start of the semifinals back to 5:05 p.m. EDT. The championship has been delayed five times over the last four days. Play is scheduled to resume on Saturday at 7 a.m., with the scheduled 36-hole championship match to follow.

The U.S. Junior Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

“I had to really step up my game and I did,” said Orischak, who played 48 holes today after resuming his suspended Round of 16 match early this morning. “I played probably the best round I had all week.”

Orischak, who earned a spot in next month’s U.S. Amateur field by reaching the final, grabbed a 2-up advantage over Hong by making an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 9 and chipping to within short range for a conceded birdie on the par-5 11th.

Hong, the runner-up in the 2014 Florida Class 1A state championship, later sank a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 14 and seemed to have momentum on his side when Orischak’s tee shot on the par-4 15th settled in the mulch behind an oak tree. However, he curved a 165-yard 9-iron onto to the putting surface and sank a 21-footer for birdie that turned the tide.

“There was a tiny gap in the tree about 15 feet right of the pin,” said Orischak, who later ended the match on No. 16 by blasting from a left greenside bunker to within 2½ feet for a conceded birdie. “Luckily, I hit a nice draw through there. I think that was the turning point in the match.”

Won Jun Lee (pictured) and Philip Barbaree were all square through 17 holes of their semifinal when darkness suspended play. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

In the other semifinal, Barbaree squared the match on No. 14 when he struck his approach shot 8 feet above the hole and made birdie. Lee got up and down from a greenside bunker to halve the par-5 16th with a par, but then missed a 3½-foot par putt on No. 17 that would have put him ahead.

In the quarterfinals, Orischak, who attends nearby Hilton Head High School and is competing in his first USGA championship, defeated Ryan Grider, 16, of Lewisville, Texas, 3 and 2. He settled for a birdie and took a 3-up lead on the par-5 eighth when his 12-foot eagle putt hung on the edge of the hole.

Grider, who captured this year’s Byron Nelson Junior, cut the deficit with birdies on 11 and 13, but Orischak regrouped when he drove the green on the 294-yard, par-4 14th and his two-putt birdie provided a 2-up margin. Orischak closed out his opponent with a 14-foot birdie putt on No. 16.

Orischak held a 3-up advantage through seven holes in the Round of 16 before Spencer Ralston, 17, of Gainesville, Ga., squared the match on the inward nine by winning holes 14 and 15. Orischak rallied by halving No. 17 with a 9-foot par putt and then chipping to within 12 inches on No. 18 for a conceded par and a 1-up victory.

Lee, who reached the Round of 32 in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur, took out the No. 8 seed Andy Ogletree, 2 and 1, in the quarterfinals. Ogletree, 17, of Little Rock, Miss., had eliminated U.S. Open qualifier Cole Hammer the previous day.

With the match all square, Ogletree sent a pair of tee shots into the left hazard on the par-4 15th and eventually conceded the hole. Lee, a rising junior at Saddlebrook Prep School in Florida, took advantage by sinking a slightly uphill 14-foot putt for a birdie that provided a 2-up lead.

“Everyone wants to try and qualify for the U.S. Junior [Amateur],” said Lee, who led all the way in his 4-and-3 third-round victory against Turk Pettit, 16, of Auburn, Ala. “It has been hard work, which has paid off.”

Barbaree made a 14-foot birdie putt on the par-5 16th to record a 4-and-2 quarterfinal victory over Kristoffer Reitan, 17, of Norway. Barbaree, who is No. 59 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, got off to a fast start when he sank a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 1 and got up and down for another birdie on the par-5 second.

“It’s really exciting,” said Barbaree about reaching the semifinals. “It was probably the most fun I ever had on the golf course just with all the cameras and everything. That was awesome.”

Barbaree, who has already qualified for the U.S. Amateur next month at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club, won five consecutive holes in the middle of his Round of 16 match with Logan Lowe, 17, of Grass Valley, Calif., en route to a 3-and-1 decision. The highlight in that string of winning holes came on the par-5 11th when his 50-yard wedge shot hit the flagstick, leading to a 15-foot birdie putt.

Hong easily defeated his third-round opponent, Jake Chanen, 17, of Phoenix, Ariz., 6 and 4, before registering a 2-and-1 triumph over John Pak, 16, of Scotch Plains, N.J., in the quarterfinals.

Hong, who has also qualified for the U.S. Amateur, delivered a 7-iron to within 3 feet to set up a birdie and a 2-up cushion on No. 12. After Pak sliced the deficit in half on the par-4 14th, Hong answered with a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 16 to regain his margin.

“Just being here was a big accomplishment,” said Hong about his expectations coming into this championship. “But I just took it match by match. Didn’t really know how far I would come.”

All quarterfinalists are exempt from qualifying for next year’s Junior Amateur as long as they are under age 18 before the end of the championship.

Brian DePasquale is a manager of communications for the USGA. Email him at bdepasquale@usga.org.

 

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