FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Nicholas Echavarria won a pair of matches on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur while future University of Arkansas men’s golf teammate Austin Cook
made the cut and remains in the top 12 at the Southern Amateur.
The 65th U.S. Junior Amateur played at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham, N.H., saw players compete in two match play competitions on Thursday, weeding the field from 32 players down to eight. Echavarria, the No. 2 overall seed based on the tournament’s stroke play results, won both his matches to advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight year.
Echavarria’s first match of the day pitted him against Jake Shuman of Needham, Miss., and it didn’t take long for the Arkansas recruit to take a lead. After matching par putts on the first hole, Echavarria took the lead with a par on No. 2 and never looked back. He stretched the lead to two with a birdie on No. 4 and three when he sank par on No. 8. The two players would trade holes on No. 9, No. 10 and No. 11 before back-to-back wins by Echavarria on No. 13 and No. 14 placed him up four with four to play. Matching pars on No. 15 gave Echavarria the victory, 4&3, and placed him in the round of 16 later in the afternoon.
The round of 16 saw Echavarria tee it up against Charles Cai of West Windsor, N.J., who defeated Rigel Fernandes of India, 1 up. A close match throughout, Cai never led, but kept Echavarria within one hole for 16 of the 18 holes. All square through two, Echavarria took his first lead with a birdie on No. 3, but Cai tied the match with a birdie of his own on No. 4. Another birdie by Echavarria on No. 5 gave him a lead that he would maintain through No. 13, even going up two at one point, but Cai squared the match on No. 14. Tied through the 16th hole, Echavarria closed the round with back-to-back pars to win, 2-up.
Echavarria is scheduled to play seventh-seed Branson Davis of McKinney, Texas, beginning at 8:20 a.m. The winner of the early session will play at 1:15 p.m. against the winner of the Joo-Young Lee (No. 35)-Andy Hyeon Bo Shim (No. 43).
Cook had another solid round on Thursday at Chenal Country Club to remain in the hunt at the Southern Amateur. Opening on the first hole, Cook fell behind with a bogey on No. 2, but came back immediately with a birdie on No. 3. The pattern would continue with bogeys on No. 4, No. 7 and No. 13, but each gaff was met with a birdie on the next hole with just a single birdie on No. 12 breaking the pattern. Another birdie by Cook on the par 4, 16th, got him to two-under par for the round, but the Jonesboro, Ark., native closed with back-to-back bogeys to finish the day at even and remain at two-under for the event. Cook will make the cut and is six strokes off the lead with two rounds to play.
Flirting with the cutline, Kolton Crawford
appeared to have things going his way on Thursday when he opened with eight straight pars before back-to-back birdies had him at two-under. Another four par putts were followed by a birdie on No. 15 and the Mansfield, Texas, native was three-under par with three to play. After a par on No. 16, Crawford then carded a triple bogey on No. 17, a par three hole, and closed his round at even par. With a two-round score of five-over par, Crawford is on the cut line, but appears that he will make it to round three.
Needing to make up ground to qualify for the third day of competition, Joe Doramus
, a Little Rock native, had a good start to his day, but was unable to sink birdie putts and concluded the second round at six-over par, 13-over for the tournament. A bogey on No. 1 and No. 4 was countered with a birdie on No.5 and Doramus reached the ninth hole at one-over. A difficult double bogey on the ninth set him back and he closed with three bogeys and six pars.
Freshman-to-be Zach Coats also missed the cut line at the Southern Amateur when he shot eight-over par on Thursday for a two-day score of 19-over par. Coats opened the round with a bogey and after a par on No. 2, walked away with a big number on No. 3 which ruined his potential score. The Springdale, Ark., native rebounded from the setback to post six straight holes of par before three bogeys.