Aug. 18, 2014

U.S. Amateur features AJGA showdowns

Of the 44 current or former AJGA players who advanced to match play at the 2014 U.S. Amateur, alums Frederick Wedel and Denny McCarthy survived the longest with semifinal appearances.
While no current or former AJGA players advanced to the finals of the 2014 U.S. Amateur Championship – which has seen 21 AJGA players win – the field had a strong AJGA showing as 247 former and current AJGA members qualified and 44 advanced to match play at Atlanta Athletic Club. 

Round of 64
Burns vs. NeSmith
In a battle of former Rolex Tournament of Champions victors, 2014 champion Sam Burns defeated 2012 Rolex Junior Player of the Year Matt NeSmith. Burns, coming off a win at the Junior PGA Championship, won the match, 2 and 1. The LSU commit went undefeated at the 2014 Wyndham Cup, the AJGA’s annual team match play event.

A junior at South Carolina, NeSmith notched three Invitational victories during his AJGA career including the 2011 Polo Golf Junior Classic, the 2012 FJ Invitational and the 2012 Rolex Tournament of Champions. The two-time Rolex Junior All-American represented the East at the 2011 and 2012 Wyndham Cup, posting a 6-2-0 career record.

Zalatoris vs. Niebrugge
U.S. Junior Amateur Championship winner Will Zalatoris took down Oklahoma State’s Jordan Niebrugge, 2 and 1, to advance. The duo owns a shared AJGA history which includes apperances at tournaments during their AJGA career overlap. Both competed at the 2012 FJ Invitational, where Niebrugge tied for sixth, as well as three starts in 2011: the FJ Invitational, Rolex Tournament of Champions and the Polo Golf Junior Classic.

Logue vs. Horsfield
In the only match between two current AJGA players, recent first-time AJGA champion Isaiah Logue defeated Sam Horsfield, 2 and 1. Logue, who is No. 32 in the Polo Golf Rankings, tied for third at the 2014 FJ Invitational and won the AJGA Philadelphia Junior, his last AJGA event. He will start his collegiate career at Liberty University this fall.

At No. 16 in the Polo Golf Rankings, Horsfield made his AJGA debut at the 2013 Polo Golf Junior Classic, taking down defending champion Adam Wood and No. 1-ranked and No. 2-seed Scottie Scheffler to earn his spot in the semifinals.

Round of 32
Nineteen current or former AJGA players advanced to the Round of 32.

Schniederjans vs. Burns
Burns’ time at Atlanta Athletic Club came to an end as No. 1-ranked amateur in the world and Georgia Tech golfer Ollie Schniederjans won in 20 holes. After being 3-down, Burns won three of the final four holes to tie the match. Schniederjans, the 2009 Polo Golf Junior Classic champion, closed the match on the second extra hole.

Young vs. Logue
After defeating Horsfield in the Round of 16, Logue was matched with fellow current AJGA player Cameron Young. The reigning Polo Golf Junior Classic champion defeated Logue, 2-up.

Young burst onto the AJGA scene with a debut performance at the 2013 Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf. He carded rounds of 75 and 67 to earn his spot in the leader group on the final day. Young went on to take down three Rolex Junior All-Americans in match play en route to his victory at the 2013 Polo Golf Junior Classic.

Phillips vs. Meth
The youngest current AJGA player in the U.S. Amateur field, Trevor Phillips lost to AJGA alum Byron Meth, 5 and 4. Phillips has recorded seven top-10 AJGA finishes and most recently tied for ninth at the Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy Junior Championship. The 2016 graduate has verbally committed to Georgia.

Meth, a junior at Pacific, competed in AJGA events from 2008 to 2011. In his final AJGA season, he made appearances at the Thunderbird International Junior, FJ Invitational and Rolex Tournament of Champions, with his best finish coming at FJ Invitational where he tied for 18th.

Round of 16
Twelve current or former AJGA players advanced to the Round of 16.

Olsen vs. Zalatoris
One of the biggest upsets of the 2014 U.S. Amateur saw Oklahoma States’ Zach Olsen end Zalatoris’ run. Olsen captured a 5-and-3 victory over Zalatoris. During their AJGA careers, the pair of Rolex Junior All-Americans competed in nine events together – last at the 2012 FJ Invitational.

Six of the eight players in the quarterfinals were current or former AJGA players. Pepperdine’s Frederick Wedel defeated Nathan Smith, 4 and 3.  There are 13 years between the date of Smith’s last AJGA event in 1997, and Wedel’s AJGA debut in 2010.

After defeating Kyle Jones in the Round of 16, Young lost to eventual champion Gunn Yang, 2-up.

The final two AJGA alums left in the competition both fell in the semifinals. Wedel lost to eventual champion Gunn Yang in 19 holes, while eventual runner-up Corey Conners defeated Denny McCarthy, 1-up.

Before he began his career at Pepperdine, Wedel competed in AJGA events from 2010 to 2012 and collected four top 10s. He closed his AJGA career with a T4 finish at the 2012 Genesis Shootout presented by the Valero Texas Open.

McCarthy was a 2010 Rolex Junior All-American after a final campaign which began with a quarterfinal appearance at the Polo Golf Junior Classic and included 2010 highlights: runner-up finish at the Thunderbird International Junior, a sixth-place showing at the FJ Invitational, a tie for third at the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and his signature victory at the Junior PGA Championship.

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