Friday, August 18, 2017

All-American Doug Ghim Leads Group of Eight Who Reach U.S. Amateur Quarterfinals

(PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif.) – University of Texas All-American Doug Ghim, of Arlington Heights, Ill., was one of eight players who each won two matches Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the 117th U.S. Amateur Championship at The Riviera Country Club.

Ghim, the 2017 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, beat 2016 U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist and Pepperdine University senior Sahith Theegala, of Chino Hills, Calif., in 19 holes in the Round of 32, and incoming Nevada freshman Joey Vrzich, of El Cajon, Calif., 3 and 2, in the Round of 16.

“Two steps further than I made it last year at the Am,” said Ghim, who lost in the Round of 32 in 2016. “I was a bit nervous in the morning. I didn't have my A game, I would say. But, I think being able to win against (Sahith) Theegala with not the sharpest game gave me enough confidence to start getting in a rhythm. I hit the range in between rounds and found something and came out there and felt comfortable immediately. It showed. The putter stayed hot.”

In Friday’s quarterfinals, Ghim, a two-time Palmer Cup selection and a three-time All-Big 12 choice, meets Connor Syme, of Scotland.

Ghim, No. 7 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), never trailed in his match with Vrzich, building a 3-up lead through 12 holes.

“I think just being sensitive of winning it all is just good enough to keep me focused,” said Ghim, who won the Pacific Coast Amateur in July. “There is no place I would rather be right now than playing in the U.S. Am. If you give me an opportunity to stay alive and keep playing, I'm going to do it.”

Syme, a member of Scotland’s national squad and the 2016 Australian Amateur champion, defeated Oklahoma State University’s Kristoffer Ventura, of Norway, 1 up, chipping in on the 18th hole to win. A range keeper at Drumoig Golf Centre, he is No. 13 in the world and defeated No. 2 Maverick McNealy in the Round of 64.

The other quarterfinal matches are: Vanderbilt University senior Theo Humphrey, of Greenwich, Conn., the highest remaining match-play seed (No. 4) against Arizona State University sophomore and world No. 23 Chu An Yu, of Chinese Taipei; Lipscomb University senior Dawson Armstrong, of Brentwood, Tenn., against Virginia Tech junior Mark Lawrence Jr., of Richmond, Va.; and Clemson University sophomore and Western Amateur finalist Doc Redman, of Raleigh, N.C., against world No. 29 Travis Smyth, of Australia, who was runner-up in the 2016 Australian Amateur.

Smyth defeated a pair of U.S. collegiate All-Americans en route to the quarterfinals: world No. 3 and University of Mississippi junior Braden Thornberry, 2 and 1, in the morning; and world No. 10 and Wake Forest University senior Will Zalatoris, 2 and 1, in the afternoon.

“I never played with him before. I heard he was a really good player, which he is, same as Will ,” said Smyth of Thornberry. “But, I'm looking at a fairway, I'm looking at a green, and I am looking at a hole. The more I think about how good these guys are, which is pretty easy to do because everybody is good, I think that's just taking me away from what I need to do.”

Medalist Hayden Wood, of Edmond, Okla., who set the 36-hole stroke-play record, lost his second-round match, 3 and 2, to his Oklahoma State University teammate Kristoffer Ventura of Norway.

Three Southern California players won their second-round matches: Vrzich, University of California-Berkeley junior Collin Morikawa of La Cañada Flintridge, and University of Southern California sophomore Cheng Jin of the People’s Republic of China. All three lost in the third round.

Quarterfinal matches are set to begin at 1:30 p.m. PDT Friday. All quarterfinalists are exempt from qualifying for the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links and stroke-play co-host Spyglass Hill August 13-19, 2018.

The 117th U.S. Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play, followed by six rounds of match play, concluding with Sunday’s 36-hole championship match. It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

Riviera, which was the host site of the 1948 U.S. Open, won by Ben Hogan, and the 1998 U.S. Senior Open, won by Hale Irwin, is playing at 7,272 yards. Bel-Air, which hosted the 1976 U.S. Amateur and the 2004 U.S. Senior Amateur, served as the stroke-play co-host course.

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