Morikawa Dominates in U.S. Amateur Round of 64
August 16, 2017
By Julia Pine
After rounds of 68 and 70 left him T8 at the conclusion of stroke play, Collin Morikawa made playing Riviera CC look easy during the Round of 64 Wednesday at the U.S. Amateur Championship. The rising University of California, Berkeley star, who already this summer earned a big win at the Northeast Amateur, currently sits at No. 5 on the World Amateur Golf Rankings and lived up to his status, defeating Blake Collyer of Australia 6 and 5.
"It's never easy," said Morikawa. "All the players that made it out here are fantastic. I knew it was going to be a good test no matter what. I was able to make a lot of pars and kind of take advantage of his errors today."
Morikawa played his 13 holes on Wednesday in 2-under par, and will advance to Thursday morning's Round of 32, where he will face another Australian in Dylan Perry, who earlier this summer finished as the runner-up at The 122nd Amateur Championship at Royal St George. Perry won his Round of 64 match in 19 holes.
"This week you can't think about what's going to happen on Friday, Saturday or even tomorrow afternoon," said Morikawa, who will play at 8:25 a.m.. "It's really one match at a time. Golf is about each shot. Tomorrow is just about the next match."
One match at a time is exactly the attitude Sahith Theegala of Pepperdine has, as the SCGA member from Chino Hills was presented with one of the toughest draws in the bracket when stroke play completed Tuesday evening. Theegala, who competed in the PGA TOUR's Genesis Open at Riviera in February, defeated his opponent Gavin Hall in 19 holes Wednesday, coming from behind to steal victory away from the University of Texas senior, who is ranked in the Top 40 of the World Amateur Golf Rankings. In a match that many would have loved to see later in the week, neither competitor ever led by more than 1. After taking a lead with a birdie on the first hole, Theegala would lose his advantage right away on the challenging par-4 second hole. He would regain the advantage on Hole 6, one that he would hold until Hall would bring the match back to All Square on 12 before taking his first lead on 13.
With his back against the wall, Theegala entered the par-5 17th hole down 1, knowing he needed to win one of the final two holes to keep his week alive. He would card an impressive birdie on 17 before missing an 8-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have sealed the comeback. But it would take just one extra hole to complete the job.
But things don't get any easier for Theegala, who moves on to the Round of 32 to face Hall's teammate Doug Ghim, a rising junior at Texas who is currently ranked No. 7 in the world.
Ricky Castillo, who at 16 years old is now the youngest player left in the field, also looked to have a tough draw in the bracket before No. 2 ranked amateur in the world Maverick McNealy was eliminated Wednesday by Connor Syme of Scotland. Castillo took care of his opponent Edwin Yi of The University of Oregon 3 and 1 in the opening round of match play, and will now face Syme.
"I made a couple of really good swings and made couple really good putts," said Castillo of Yorba Linda. "My putting has been really good this week. I live out here so I'm used to poana and kikuyu, so I think I have a little bit of an advantage. Edwin is a great player. He played really well today. I just made a couple more putts than him. That's all."
Castillo feels very comfortable with the match play format, having recently made it to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Boys' Junior.
"I like match play. I like the way it's set up," said Castillo. "I felt really good coming into this event; my confidence was high after the Junior."
Matt Wolff of Agoura Hills, who recently made it to the final match of the U.S. Boys' Junior Championship, fell in his match Wednesday 3 and 2 to Tyler Strafaci of Florida.
Norman Xiong of San Diego, who recently took home the prestigious Western Amateur, dug himself a early hole and was unable to climb out, losing 2 up to Billy Walthouse of University of Rhode Island.
The Championship will continue Thursday morning, as Round of 32 matches get underway at 7:15 a.m. The Round of 16 will kick off immediately after, beginning around 1:15 p.m. The action can be watched live on FS1 at 3 p.m., or streamed live on usga.org beginning at 11 a.m.