U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
Quotable: Comments From the Quarterfinals July 21, 2017 | Andover, Kan. By USGA

Garrick Higgo could become the third left-hander to win the U.S. Junior Amateur and the first South African. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

U.S. Junior Amateur Home

Competitors in the 70th U.S. Junior Amateur who prevailed in their quarterfinal matches on Friday morning at Flint Hills National Golf Club had little time to bask in the glory of their triumphs. The players had time to grab lunch and hit a few practice putts or shots before refocusing for their afternoon semifinals matches. But before they teed off, the USGA got a few comments from the winners and some of those who were eliminated:

Matthew Wolff defeated Austin Eckroat, 1 up

Wolff on playing his good friend and future Oklahoma State teammate: "No, there was no awkwardness. I mean, he's a really good friend of mine. It stinks that I had to play him, and it's great that I won, but I kind of feel bad that he lost because he's been playing well all week. But I know he's happy for me, and I know he's just going to be hungry to take me down next tournament we play."

Wolff on his 5-iron approach to the par-5 18th that eventually won him the match: "It was 208 to the pin, 190 to carry the front bunker. I had that tree kind of overhanging, so I had to hit a cut. I was going to take 6-iron and muscle it, but the wind was starting to pick up, so I hit a light cut 5-iron, put it like 30 feet pin-high left, and I was expecting him to get up and down out of the front bunker, and I was actually getting a drink of water on the back, and I wasn't even looking at him, and then he got out of the bunker and started walking across the green, and I was like, 'Did you hit?' Apparently he just thinned it a little. It's unfortunate that he did that and I had to win on him making a bogey, but a win is a win."

On reaching the semifinals: "It's unbelievable. You know, I made it to the Round of 16 in 2015, and making it to the semifinals, with all these great players in the field, I mean, even the ones that lost like [defending champion] Min Woo [Lee] and Frankie [Capan], Cole Hammer, there's so many great players that didn't even make it this far, and to still be in it and competing, it's awesome."

Eckroat's thoughts on the tight match: "We both played unbelievable the whole round. I think we were both 4 under going into 18. Yeah, for sure. It was just back and forth, a bunch of birdies. We both made one bogey. It was a great match."

Eckroat on losing in the quarterfinals: "I'm disappointed, but I had a good tournament for sure. I was way under par. It kind of stinks the two highest seeds [left] playing against each other in the quarterfinals, but that's all right."

Garrick Higgo defeated Aman Gupta, 7 and 6

On his performance: "Again, just played solid, consistent, made one bogey, which luckily I halved the hole and made an eagle and a few birdies."

On his mindset once he built a big lead early in the match: "Some flags that were gettable I would go for it. Others that weren't, I'd just play middle green."

On getting one step closer to earning a spot in next month's U.S. Amateur: "That would be great. I mean, I missed out by one shot in the qualifying for U.S. Am, so I'm an alternate, but it would be great to get to the final."

On being so far from home for most of the summer: "I wouldn't say I'm used to it, but I mean, it's nice. It's nice to experience different countries and different cultures, and it's nice to play golf all over the world." 

Rayhan Thomas defeaated Ryan Smith, 2 and 1

On the turning point of the match: "The [par] putt on 12 was huge for me because I was 1 down at that time, had missed a lot of putts, and holing that 6-footer on 12 was huge to win that hole. And then 13 I holed a 9-footer for birdie to halve, and then 14 I holed a 7-footer for par to win the hole, so those three holes were just key, to hole those putts at a time when I was missing a lot of putts."

On advancing to the semifinals: "I'm always excited. I mean, every day I'm playing I'm excited. Every day I can survive this championship, I'm excited."

On trying to be the second consecutive foreign-born champion to win the title: "International champion or any type of champion is just ... you feel great to represent your country. It means a lot to be in this position to actually win the championship. I'll give it my best."

On advancing this far in his first USGA championship: "Just all the years of hard work and just advice from my coach, Justin Parsons, and my dad. Just all that accumulated to come to this point, and we'll see how it goes this [afternoon]."

Noah Goodwin defeated Davis Shore, 2 up

On getting better as the week has progressed: "Today, I felt like my game was there a lot. It was kind of hard to tell. I made a little more silly mistakes than I would have liked, but again, I just have to clean that up. I'm getting better with each day. "Yeah, so whenever I needed to hit the shots, especially like 18, 11, holes like that, I was hitting those shots. So that gives me a lot of confidence. My swing is right where it needs to be, where I want it to be. I only really mishit two shots probably today. So I'm hitting the shots. I just have to keep rolling on. I figured [Davis] was probably going to be one of my hardest matches this week because our games are really similar."

On getting a chance to reach a second consecutive final: "It would mean the world to me. To actually follow it up and do it again and just to give myself an opportunity, just a second chance [at a title], that would just mean a lot."

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