TRUCKEE, Calif. –– Sam Horsfield’s run at the U.S. Junior Amateur came to an end Friday morning. John Augenstein’s journey, on the other hand, will continue for at least one more match.
The 15-year-old from Owensboro, Ky., topped Horsfield in 20 holes to advance to Friday afternoon’s semifinals at Martis Camp Club. He will face Davis Riley, a 4-and-2 winner over Zecheng Dou.
“It’s unbelievable,” Augenstein said. “I don’t know what to say. It’s a great feeling.”
For Augenstein, his quarterfinal match was the second time he’s needed extra holes to close out a victory this week. He beat Jim Liu in 20 holes in the Round of 32 on Thursday before draining an 8-footer for birdie at the par-4 18th to beat Brian Carlson, 1 up, in the Round of 16.
Now he finds himself just two wins away from a U.S. Junior title, and one win away from a berth in next month’s U.S. Amateur and next year’s U.S. Amateur Public Links. He earned a two-year exemption into the U.S. Junior by reaching the semifinals.
“I’m trying not to realize it,” Augenstein said. “It’s a really special thing and I’m happy that I’m in this position. I think I’m going to be more ready for this next match than I was this morning.”
Horsfield entered his match against Augenstein having not had a match reach the 14th hole in the previous three rounds of match play. He took a 1-up lead after a par at the par-3 third hole then regained a 1-up advantage by driving the green at the par-4 sixth and making the eagle putt. Augenstein meanwhile won just one of the first eight holes.
“I had a shaky start,” Augenstein said. “I didn’t putt very well today, not nearly as well as I have been.”
But Horsfield couldn’t pull away on the front nine like he had done earlier in the week. He then bogeyed Nos. 9-10 to give Augenstein his first lead of the match. Horsfield wouldn’t lead again.
Augenstein birdied the par-4 13th to go 2 up before Horsfield cut the deficit in half by chipping in for birdie at the par-3 14th. Both players drove the green at the par-4 16th and made birdie. Two pars at no. 17 then sent the match to No. 18 with Augenstein 1 up.
He then found the sand twice, off the tee and on the approach, before ending up with double bogey. Horsfield won the hole with bogey to extend the match.
Augenstein walked off the green frustrated. He had some time to regroup, though, after the playoff was sent to No. 15, where the players had to wait for another match to play through.
“I went back to the restroom and just kind of zoned in and got ready for the next hole, and kind of told myself I have to get past that because we have more holes to play,” Augenstein said.
Horsfield reached the green in two at the par-5 15th while Augenstein came up short on his third shot. Horsfield then sent his long eagle try about 15 feet past – “I didn’t feel like I hit a bad putt, but obviously it was pretty bad,” Horsfield said.
Augenstein chipped it close to save par while Horsfield would three-putt the hole to send the match into a second playoff hole.
Both players were just short of the green off the tee, Augenstein in the rough and Horsfield in the sand. Augenstein chipped to inside 5 feet while Horsfield nearly holed his bunker shot before the ball rolled 8 feet past. He then missed the birdie putt to set up Augenstein with a match-winning birdie putt, which he rolled in.
“I played pretty poorly today on the front nine,” Horsfield said. “I hit a lot of loose shots; hit it left a couple holes. I chipped in on (No.) 14, but I just didn’t play too good today.”
Augenstein now draws Riley, an Alabama commit who hasn’t trailed in his last two matches.
“I have no idea who that is,” Augenstein said when asked what he knew about his upcoming opponent. “I’m sure I’ll get to know him in the first few holes.”
The other semifinal match will pit two Texas commits against each other, Doug Ghim and Scottie Scheffler. Scheffler defeated P.J. Samiere, 3 and 2, Friday while Ghim downed Cameron Young, 4 and 3.
Ghim sealed his match with a long eagle make at the par-5 15th, reacting with a big fist pump. Now he’ll have to turn his focus toward his semifinal match, where he will play one of his good friends and future college teammate.
“We’re good friends and obviously we’re going to the same university,” Ghim said. “It’s going to be a good one. It’s going to be close. The beginning is going to be important. Whoever draws the first blood is going to have the advantage.”