Tuesday, July 19, 2011

U.S. Junior Am: Californian Hossler earns No. 1 seed to match play

Beau Hossler

BREMERTON, Wash. –  Beau Hossler, a 16-year-old from Mission Viejo, Calif,, played well on Monday, and played better today, and it earned him the No. 1 seed as the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship heads Wednesday into four days of match play.

Hossler still isn’t thrilled with how he’s driving the ball – but he's happy with his scores.

“I’ve got to work on my driving,” said Hossler, who followed up his first-round 68 with a 5-under 67 in today's second day of stroke-play qualifying at the par-72, 7,111-yard Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club. The 36-hole total of 135 gave Hossler medalist honors by four strokes.

only bogey in stroke play came on his first hole Monday.

“Not because I’m hitting bad shots," he said, "but because the confidence just isn’t there. I’ve gotten away with a lot of iffy tee shots, but my irons and consistency overall has been really good, and that’s helped me to keep away the bogeys.”

Hossler played in last month’s U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., but is playing in his first U.S. Junior Amateur. He admits to being somewhat of a novice when it comes to match play – he’s played in one match-play event and lost in the first round – but his approach for the format is simple.

“You go out there and try to make the most birdies you can,” said Hossler. “I feel like maybe the best thing I have going for me in match play is my short game right now, because I’m not making a lot of bogeys and I’m assuming the guy I’m playing against is going to make a few bogeys at least.

"So if I can keep the bogeys away and start firing at some pins and make some birdies, I definitely like my chances to get far in this tournament.”

Hossler tees off at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday against Miller Capps of Denver, N.C., who emerged as the No. 64 seed after 12 golfers played off for the final 10 of 64 slots in match play.

Will Starke, 17, of Chapin, S.C., who shared the first-round lead with Hossler, shot a second-round 1-under 71 for a 139 total. Starke, playing in his first USGA championship, also has limited match-play experience but will employ a similarly simple strategy.

“I’m not going to try to do anything different,” said Starke, who meets Brian Bullington of Frankfort, Ill., at 10:54 a.m. (PDT). “I’m just going to try to play my game and play the course. You can’t control what your opponent does.”

Reigning champion Jim Liu, 15, of Smithtown, N.Y., rebounded from his first-round 78 with a 2-under 70 to easily advance to match play.

“I hit more fairways and I definitely hit more greens,” said Liu, who last year surpassed Tiger Woods as the youngest winner in the championship’s 64-year history. “It was a lot easier for me.”

Liu is trying to become just the second repeat winner in the championship’s 64-year history. The only golfer to win more than one Junior Amateur was Woods, who claimed three consecutive titles from 1991-93. Liu knows it will be difficult.

“It’s a stretch,” said Liu, who takes on Nicolo Galletti of Clayton, Calif., at 11:39 a.m. “What (Woods) did was just amazing – three years in a row. And then winning three Amateurs in a row. So that’s going to be really hard to match. I’m not really expecting myself to match that. So we’ll see what happens.”

Also trying to earn a second title is 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Jordan Spieth, 17, of Dallas, Texas, who followed up his first-round 72 with five birdies and one bogey Tuesday for a 4-under 68. Spieth faces Blake Toolan of Phoenix at 9:42 a.m.

“It was just more consistent today,” said Spieth. “I hit more fairways and that was kind of the key. Given every hole where I missed the fairway, I made birdie. It was a very unconventional day, but I got the ball in the hole early.”

Yi Keun Chang, 17, of Walnut, Calif., shot a second consecutive 2-under 70 to match Spieth’s 36-hole total of 140. Chang meets Matthew Lowe of Farmingdale, N.Y.,at 12:06 p.m.

The Junior Amateur continues with the first round of match play Wednesday. The second and third rounds will be played Thursday, the quarterfinal and semifinal matches will be played Friday, and the 36-hole championship final will be played Saturday.

The U.S. Junior Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted by the USGA each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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