U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
Mancheno Earns Medalist Honors at U.S. Junior Amateur July 22, 2015 | Bluffton, S.C. By Brian DePasquale, USGA

Brandon Mancheno is the first left-hander to earn medalist honors at the U.S. Junior Amateur since Brian Harman in 2004. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

Brandon Mancheno, 15, of Jacksonville, Fla., shot his second consecutive 3-under 69 on Wednesday to earn medalist honors with a 36-hole score of 138 in the weather-delayed 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the par-72, 7,336-yard Colleton River Plantation Club’s Dye Course.

The second round of stroke play was delayed twice on Tuesday due to rain and lightning for a total of 4 hours, 51 minutes and finally suspended at 8:27 p.m. EDT with half of the 156-player field still on the course.

Mancheno, who is competing in his first USGA championship, played 12 holes of his round before the suspension. He made five birdies and two bogeys overall to finish one stroke ahead of  first-round co-leader Viktor Hovland, 17, of Norway, and Travis Vick, 15, of Houston, Texas.

“It’s an honor,” said Mancheno, who has qualified for both the Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur this summer. “It’s a great field with a bunch of really good players and it’s a tough course.”

The U.S. Junior Amateur consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Saturday, July 25, starting at 7 a.m. EDT.

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.

A right-hander who plays left-handed, Mancheno took advantage of the Dye Course’s four par 5s by making three birdies on those holes. He got up and down from the left bunker with an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 11 and struck an uphill chip to within close range on No. 2, his 11th hole.

Mancheno made his second bogey of the round when he hit his tee shot into the waste bunker on the par-3 sixth. However, he bounced back on the following hole, his 16th, by striking a 109-yard gap wedge from an awkward stance to within 6 feet to get back to 6 under.

Vick, who finished as the runner-up in the 2013 Texas State Boys’ Junior, had an opportunity to tie Mancheno for medalist, but bogeyed the par-4 18th when he missed the green to the right with his approach shot and narrowly missed a 16-foot par putt.

“I didn’t really expect to do anything here,” said Vick, who hopes to make his high school varsity football team as a quarterback this fall. “My driver is really good right now. That leaves me with short irons in. I had birdie putts all day.”

Vick made eagle on the par-5 second when he holed a 48-yard shot with a 60-degree wedge. After a pair of bogeys, he moved back to 6 under overall with birdies on holes 13 and 15. He struck a 5-iron to within 15 feet on the par-4 15th to set up his third birdie. He shot a 69 after opening with a 70.

Hovland, who carded a 4-under 68 in the first round, had a sluggish start but rallied with birdies on four of his last six holes to shoot a second-round 71.

“My thought during the round was just focus on every single shot,” Hovland said. “I was pouring with sweat. [The heat] is tough.”

Brendan O’Reilly, who completed his second round the previous day, was alone in fourth place at 4-under 140. He birdied four of his first 10 holes. O’Reilly delivered a wedge to within 12 feet on the par-5 second and then sank an 8-foot putt on the following hole for another birdie. He made putts of 14 and 30 feet, respectively, on holes 9 and 10 to get to 5 under overall before he made his lone bogey of the day on the par-5 11th.

Davis Shore, 16, of Knoxville, Tenn., was one of three players at 3-under 141. His second-round 70 featured four birdies, including approach shots inside 7 feet at both Nos. 1 and 2, and two bogeys.

“I tried to hit a lot of fairways and greens and stay conservative,” said Shore, who won this year’s AJGA Music City Junior by 11 strokes. “Whenever I hit it in trouble, I just sort of chipped out. I didn’t try to do anything weird, and that really worked.”

Sahith Theegala, 17, of Chino Hills, Calif., and Brody Blackmon, 17, of Sulphur Springs, Texas, also reached 5 under for the championship at one time on Tuesday before falling back to 2-under 142. Theegala, who advanced to the Round of 16 in 2014 and the Round of 32 the previous year, birdied the first hole, his 10th of the day, before making three bogeys for a 72.

Blackmon, the grandson of 1969 U.S. Open champion Orville Moody, birdied two of the first four holes. However, he lost momentum when he missed a 4-foot par putt on the ninth and finished with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 18 for a 73.

Andy Zhang, who is competing in his fourth U.S. Junior Amateur and was a quarterfinalist last year, and three other players also had two-round scores of 142. Zhang, 17, of the People’s Republic of China, used a hot putter to regroup from a tough start. Following a string of three straight bogeys, he reeled off four consecutive birdies to close out the outward nine. He hit an 8-iron to within 9 feet on the par-3 sixth and holed a 16-foot putt on No. 9. He added birdie putts of 25 and 30 feet, respectively, on holes 15 and 16.

Chandler Eaton, 17, of Alpharetta, Ga., rebounded from a first-round 79 with a 7-under-par 65, matching the third-lowest score in U.S. Junior Amateur history and establishing the course record. Eaton, who had nine birdies and two bogeys, eclipsing the previous Dye Course mark of 66 set by Mark Muscatell during a U.S. Amateur sectional qualifier in 2012.

Eight players who tied for 60th place at 6-over 148 played off for the final five match-play berths. The first round of match play started at 12:15 p.m.

Cole Hammer, 15, of Houston, also qualified for match play. Hammer, who became the third-youngest to compete in a U.S. Open when he played at Chambers Bay in June, shot rounds of 73 and 72.  Among those failing to qualify were Brad Dalke, 17, of Hobart, Okla., who had advanced to match play the three previous years and John Augenstein, 16, of Owensboro, Ky., a semifinalist in the 2013 Junior Amateur.

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

More From 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur