U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
U.S. Junior Amateur: Meet the Quarterfinalists July 19, 2018 | Springfield, N.J. By Brian DePasquale, USGA

Alejandro Madariaga is making his USGA championship debut at Baltusrol this week, one of two quarterfinalists to do so. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

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Akshay Bhatia, 16, of Wake Forest, N.C.

  • Born Jan. 31, 2002 in Los Angeles, Calif.
  • No. 95 in World Amateur Golf Ranking™
  • Earned No. 12 seed with rounds of 66-72 in stroke play
  • Defeated No. 5 seed Yuki Moriyama, 1 up, in the Round of 16
  • Reached the Round of 64 in the 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur
  • Advanced to match play with partner Grayson Wotnosky in 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball
  • Won 2018 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley by one stroke over 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball co-champion Frankie Capan
  • Captured 2018 Polo Golf Junior Classic at Echo Lake, in Westfield, N.J., by 10 strokes
  • Won 2017 Boys Junior PGA with a record 22-under par, which included a second-round 61
  • His sister Rhea is a rising senior on the Queens University of Charlotte golf team

 

Cole Hammer, 18, of Houston, Texas

  • Born Aug. 28, 1999 in Houston, Texas
  • No. 41 in World Amateur Golf Ranking™
  • Earned No. 8 seed with rounds of 69-68 in stroke play
  • Rallied to defeat Trent Phillips in 19 holes in the Round of 16
  • Advanced to match play in four consecutive U.S. Junior Amateurs, including this year’s quarterfinals and the Round of 16 in 2016 and 2017
  • Won 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship with partner Garrett Barber
  • Competed in eight USGA championships and was the third-youngest (age 15) to compete in the U.S. Open when he played at Chambers Bay in 2015
  • Won 2018 Azalea Invitational when he defeated Hugo Bernard and Joseph Pagdin in a playoff
  • Will attend the University of Texas in the fall
     

Joe Highsmith, 18, of Lakewood, Wash.

  • Born April 19, 2000 in Lakewood, Wash.
  • No. 235 in World Amateur Golf Ranking™
  • Earned No. 18 seed with rounds of 73-69 in stroke play
  • Defeated No. 2 seed Ricky Castillo, 5 and 3, in the Round of 16 and 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball co-champion Garrett Barber, 3 and 2, in the Round of 32
  • Advanced to match play in four consecutive U.S. Junior Amateurs, including this year’s quarterfinals and the Round of 32 in 2016 and 2017
  • Youngest player (age 17) to win the WSGA State Amateur when he posted a 54-hole score of 9-under 205 in 2017
  • Claimed the 2017 WIAA Class 4A state championship and helped Bellarmine Prep win its third consecutive state crown
  • Represented the United States in the 2017 Junior Presidents Cup
  • Will attend Pepperdine University in the fall

 

Alejandro Madariaga, 17, of Mexico

  • Born July 31, 2000 in Mexico City
  • No. 1,295 in World Amateur Golf Ranking™
  • Earned No. 29 seed with rounds of 70-73 in stroke play
  • Defeated No. 4 seed Joseph Pagdin, 2 and 1, in the Round of 32 and No. 13 seed James Song, 5 and 4, in the Round of 16
  • Competing in his first USGA championship
  • Runner-up in the 2017 Doral-Publix Junior Classic when he lost in a playoff to Petr Hruby

 

Thomas Ponder, 17, of Dothan, Ala.

  • Born Jan. 12, 2001 in Dothan, Ala.
  • No. 3,178 in World Amateur Golf Ranking™
  • Earned No. 30 seed with rounds of 72-71 in stroke play
  • Defeated No. 3 seed Karl Vilips, 3 and 1, in the Round of 32 and Connor Creasy, 1 up, in the Round of 16
  • Competing in his second U.S. Junior Amateur after missing the cut for match play in 2017
  • Runner-up in the Press Thornton Future Masters after losing a playoff to Hal Dove on June 30
  • Won the 2018 AHSAA Boys 3A state championship by one stroke with a 36-hole score of 5-under 139 and helped Providence Christian School place second
  • Completed black belt in ATA karate at age 8

 

Cameron Sisk, 18, of El Cajon, Calif.

  • Born April 4, 2000 in San Diego, Calif.
  • No. 490 in World Amateur Golf Ranking™
  • Earned No. 11 seed with rounds of 68-70 in stroke play
  • Defeated Tommy Stephenson, 4 and 3, in the Round of 16
  • Advanced to the Round of 64 in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur
  • Shot final-round 64, his lowest competitive round, to finish third in the 2018 Heather Farr Classic
  • 2017 AJGA Rolex All-American and chosen to the All-Southern California Junior Team
  • Member of the AJGA Wyndham Cup West Team
  • Has a twin brother, Parker, and enjoys mountain biking
  • Will attend Arizona State University in the fall
     

Michael Thorbjornsen, 16, of Wellesley, Mass.

  • Born Sept. 16, 2001 in Cleveland, Ohio
  • No. 211 in World Amateur Golf Ranking™
  • Earned No. 7 seed with rounds of 70-67 in stroke play
  • Defeated 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur quarterfinalist Ryan Smith, 3 and 2, in the Round of 16
  • Competing in his first USGA championship
  • Member of the 2018 AJGA Wyndham Cup East Team
  • Won 2016 Drive, Chip & Putt National Final (ages 14-15) at Augusta National Golf Club
  • 2012 and 2013 U.S. Kids Golf National Player of the Year

 

Shuai Ming Wong, 18, of Hong Kong China

  • Born Nov. 14, 1999 in Hong Kong China
  • No. 155 in World Amateur Golf Ranking™
  • Earned No. 16 seed with rounds of 69-72 in stroke play
  • Defeated Jacob Bridgeman, 7 and 6, in the Round of 16 and Jolo Timothy Magcalayo in 19 holes in the Round of 32
  • Eighth player to compete in five U.S. Junior Amateurs, joining a group that includes eight-time USGA champion Jack Nicklaus
  • Advanced to the U.S. Junior Amateur quarterfinals for the first time
  • Had reached match play in two of his previous four U.S. Junior Amateurs
  • Won 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship with partner Frankie Capan
  • Will be teammates with 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Noah Goodwin at Southern Methodist University (SMU)
  • Born in Hong Kong, China, but moved to Beijing, in China, at age 6

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