THE WOODLANDS, Texas – After an exciting five days of action at the 2014 U.S. Junior Amateur, the field is down to two players – Will Zalatoris and Davis Riley.
Zalatoris, a 17-year-old from Plano, Texas, held off a late charge from Australian Curtis Luck to win his semifinal match, 1 up, Friday at The Club at Carlton Woods’ Nicklaus Course. Riley, a 17-year-old from Hattiesburg, Miss., and last year’s runner-up, needed 21 holes to knock off Sam Horsfield.
Here’s a closer look at the 36-hole championship match:
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Will Zalatoris (Plano, Texas) vs. Davis Riley (Hattiesburg, Miss.), 8 a.m. CT
- Neither Riley nor Zalatoris lack in the experience department. Riley made it to last year’s final before losing to Scottie Scheffler. Zalatoris has played in five U.S. Juniors, but while he has made match play four times, he had never advanced past the Round of 16 before this year.
- Riley missed a couple of putts from inside of 5 feet late in his semifinal match against Horsfield. The putts, at the 18th and on the second playoff hole, were potential match-winners. He showed toughness, though, making a short par at the par-3 third hole to win in 21 holes. Zalatoris also took a slight hit to his confidence Friday. With a chance to go dormie at the par-4 14th, Zalatoris lost the hole, the first of three straight hole victories by Luck. The match went to the 18th at all square before Zalatoris made birdie to win.
- Both players will be playing high-level college golf. Zalatoris will start school at Wake Forest in the fall while Riley is set to join the Alabama roster next fall.
- The two finalists didn’t start very well in their semifinal matches, combining for two birdies on the front nine – they each birdied the par-5 eighth. Yet, Zalatoris never trailed against Luck. Riley was 2 down to Horsfield through 12 holes before rallying late.
- Riley impressed with his driver Friday, but both players have been on point with every aspect of their games for the most part. Zalatoris said it best Friday: “You just can’t assume anything in match play besides the best.”
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Brentley Romine predicts the final match (36-26 overall this week): Riley, 2 and 1