U.S. AMATEUR
Round of 32: What Some Winners Had to Say August 17, 2017 | PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIF. By Ron Driscoll and Michael Trostel, USGA

Theo Humphrey, of Greenwich, Conn., had a roller-coaster match against Kyle Mueller and came away victorious, 3 and 1. (USGA/Chris Keane)

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Competitors in the 117th U.S. Amateur Championship who prevailed in their Round-of-32 matches on Thursday morning at The Riviera Country Club had little time to bask in the glory. A quick lunch, a few putts and a couple of deep breaths, and the 16 winners were right back to the first tee for their afternoon matches. But before they teed off, they shared a few thoughts on the course, their victories and expectations going forward:

Kristoffer Ventura def. Hayden Wood, 3 and 2
On his best shot of the day:
“I chipped in with a 60-degree wedge on No. 10 for eagle. I was about 20 yards short of the green. I had to hit it just left of the bunker to keep it close, but I knew it was going to be fast, so I lofted it up in the air with some spin. One of my friends from Norway took a video, so that will be a nice one to look back at.”

Connor Syme def. Ricky Castillo, 4 and 3
On winning five of the first eight holes
: “That was crucial through that stretch. I birdied No. 1, which normally plays as a par 5, so that was a nice start. Then to win three in a row [Nos. 6-8] and pull away like that is always nice against a good player like Ricky. I was able to play a little more relaxed coming in.”

On the eighth hole playing just 304 yards – nearly 150 yards shorter than in previous rounds: “It was a bit of a surprise. You just kind of have to adapt and be ready for things like that. That’s why you take such detailed notes around the greens so if there is an option like that, you know how to attack it. Right was no good with that hole location, so I cut a driver and ended up on the back of the green and was able to two-putt to win the hole.”

Doug Ghim def. Sahith Theegala, 19 holes
On his strategy on the first playoff hole (Riviera’s par-4 first hole)
: “I saw Sahith's driver not get through the fairway, so I thought my 3-wood would probably be fine, but it rolled through. I had about 180 yards from a downhill lie. Given that Sahith was in the bunker, I knew how difficult it was because the green is so elevated and it slopes away at that angle. So I thought, it doesn't matter where I go as long as I'm right of the bunker. Then I just kind of cozied my putt up there and put it all up to Sahith to extend the match.”

On how playing in a close match can be a boost for his confidence: “I mean it definitely helps. Playing in national championships, with my experience in the last three Ams and being the APL runner-up has helped out, but I can't dwell on it too long because I have another round this afternoon.”

Collin Morikawa def. Dylan Perry, 1 up
On having to grind out a win on No. 18 after being 3 up with three holes to play
: “I was a little heated after the last two holes [Nos. 16 and 17]. I hit a great drive down the left side and hit a solid 9-iron. Just tugged it a little bit. I was fortunate enough to be in the fringe. I've been out here in the kikuyu rough and it’s not pretty. I left myself a little work for par, but it went in the hole, so sigh of relief there.”

On what’s at stake playing in a national championship just 20 miles from his hometown: “It’s been a lot of fun having the support, but I’m just worrying about my next match. If you're standing there on Sunday morning in the final, then you can kind of just enjoy the moment. For now, there are still a few more players I need to get through.”

Theo Humphrey def. Kyle Mueller, 3 and 1
On halving just two of the 17 holes they played in the match
: “It was kind of crazy. Neither of us had momentum for that long. Any time we gained it, we lost it and any time we lost it, we gained it. Luckily I was able to come out on top.”

Dawson Armstrong def. Robert MacIntyre, 3 and 1
On staying patient after falling 3 down through four holes
: “I knew I was hitting the right shots even though I lost a few of those holes. I finally got it going it little bit by knocking my approaches close on Nos. 5 and 6. When I won five straight (on Nos. 7-11), the most important thing I did was keep the ball in front of me. I hit every fairway in that stretch. That’s the key out here: make sure you have a chance to advance your ball as close to the hole as possible and give yourself as many uphill putts as you can.”

Mark Lawrence Jr. def. Tyler Strafaci, 1 up
Lawrence, the No. 7 seed, survived a wild match
 in which he lost a 5-up lead, then rebounded to win the final two holes. “I didn’t make any real mistakes at the beginning, and then I did make some mistakes after that, which I’ve got to work on this afternoon.”

On his emotions after losing the 5-up advantage and going 1 down on No. 15: “I knew that there were three holes left, so if I could just make a couple of good swings I could get it back to even and maybe win.” Lawrence won the par-5 17th with a par, then stuffed his approach on No. 18 to 3 feet for the match-clinching birdie.

Ron Driscoll is a manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org. Michael Trostel is a senior content producer for the USGA. Email him at mtrostel@usga.org.

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