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Griffin’s U.S. Amateur run ends in round of 32

August 18, 2017
By News Staff and The Associated Press , Lake Placid News

LOS ANGELES - Lake Placid native Art Griffin's run at the U.S. Amateur golf tournament came to an end Thursday with a loss to Joey Vrzich, of El Cajon, California, in the round of 32 of match play.

Griffin, a 21-year-old senior at Charleston Southern University, was playing in the U.S. Amateur for the second year in a row and emerged from Monday and Tuesday's stroke play tournament tied for 19th in the 312-player field. On Monday, he carded a first-round score of 66, which was four-under par and put him in fourth place behind three players at minus-6.

Griffin came into the match play field as the No. 25 seed then advanced to Thursday's round of 32 with a 3-and-2 victory over Nathan Jeansonne. Griffin never trailed in the match.

On Thursday against Vrzich, Griffin fell behind by three through four holes, but hung around and eventually drew within one thanks to a birdie at the par-four 12th hole. Vzrich re-instated a 2-up lead with a birdie at No. 13 and added a win at No. 15 to put Griffin down three with three to play. The match then came to a close at the par-three 16th, as another Vrzich birdie sealed the outcome.

Vrzich fell to Doug Ghim, a Chicago-area player who was wearing a Cubs cap, later in the day as the field was whittled down to eight players. Ghim, the Big 12 Player of the Year at the University of Texas, won the match 3-and-2.

In other U.S. Amateur action Thursday, Australia's Travis Smyth knocked off No. 3-ranked Braden Thornberry in the morning and advanced to the quarterfinals in the afternoon with a 2-and-1 victory over No. 12 Will Zalatoris.

Smyth is on an impressive run at Riviera Country Club with a chance to follow the path set by Curtis Luck. Smyth's good friend and fellow long-haired Australian won the Amateur last year at Oakland Hills.

Smyth excelled in a 3-and-2 victory over NCAA champion Thornberry, who beat world No. 1 Joaquin Niemann on Wednesday. Smyth finished off Zalatoris with a birdie on the 17th aided by a remarkable chip from the bunker.

Smyth is a former rugby player who only picked up golf at 12 years old while recovering from an injury.

He handled the grind of a two-round day with steady effort and an afternoon mental reset on the 13th, where he saved par after his 4-up lead had dwindled to 2-up.

"This format, it's very tough," Smyth said. "You want to get yourself into match play and then just play as best you can. ... I just concentrate on my next shot. The more I think about how good these guys are - and they're all good - I think that's taking me away from what I need to do."

After the world's top two ranked players lost on Wednesday, several more big names fell on the draining Thursday. Only two of the top eight seeds are among the final eight players left in the championship.

Medalist Hayden Wood also lost in the Round of 32, falling 4 and 3 to Norway's Kristoffer Ventura - his teammate at Oklahoma State.

But Scotland's Connor Syme eliminated Ventura in dramatic fashion in the afternoon, holing a 75-foot chip from the fringe on the 18th hole to win 1 up.

"That's just the coolest way to finish out a match," Syme said. "It was awesome."

Ventura had repeatedly rallied to catch up during their tense round, but Syme continued his strong run after knocking off No. 2-ranked Maverick McNealy on Wednesday in the Round of 64.

"I'm just really enjoying myself this week," Syme said. "It's a special place, Riviera. It's an absolutely awesome golf course."

Fourth-seeded Theo Humphrey is the highest-rated remaining competitor after wins over Kyle Mueller and Noah Norton. Humphrey, a Vanderbilt player from Connecticut, is adjusting solidly to the challenges of unfamiliar West Coast grass.

"The rough is what's completely different," Humphrey said. "I've never seen anything like it before. It's weird. It looks like it's always sitting up and it's going to be easy. Somehow it finds a way to be pretty challenging."

No Californians are left in the field after four afternoon defeats. Taiwan's Chun An Yu beat Los Angeles-area player Collin Morikawa 2 up, and USC freshman-to-be Cheng Jin of China lost 2 and 1 to Dawson Armstrong.

Play continues through Sunday at Riviera.


U.S. Amateur Results


At The Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Yardage: 7,272; Par: 70

Round of 32

Upper Bracket

Kristoffer Ventura, Norway (141) def. Hayden Wood, Edmond, Okla. (131), 3 and 2

Connor Syme, Scotland (142) def. Ricky Castillo, Yorba Linda, Calif. (143), 4 and 3

Joey Vrzich, El Cajon, Calif. (144) def. Arthur Griffin, Lake Placid, (140), 4 and 2

Doug Ghim, Arlington Heights, Ill. (138) def. Sahith Theegala, Chino Hills, Calif. (140), 19 holes

Theo Humphrey, Greenwich, Conn. (136) def. Kyle Mueller, Athens, Ga. (142), 3 and 1

Noah Norton, Chico, Calif. (142) def. Cole Madey, West Linn, Ore. (143), 2 and 1

Chun An Yu, Taiwan (144) def. Zach Bauchou, Forest, Va. (140), 4 and 3

Collin Morikawa, La Canada Flintridge, Calif. (138) def. Dylan Perry, Australia (140), 1 up

Lower Bracket

Cheng Jin, China (141) def. Billy Walthouse, Longmeadow, Mass. (144), 5 and 4

Dawson Armstrong, Brentwood, Tenn. (143) def. Robert MacIntyre, Scotland (142), 3 and 1

Mark Lawrence Jr., Richmond, Va. (137) def. Tyler Strafaci, Davie, Fla. (142), 1 up

Shae Wools-Cobb, Australia (142) def. Garrett Barber, Stuart, Fla. (138), 1 up

Doc Redman, Raleigh, N.C. (144) def. Walker Lee, Houston, Texas (142), 1 up

John Oda, Honolulu, Hawaii (142) def. Dylan Wu, Medford, Ore. (143), 2 and 1

Travis Smyth, Australia (142) def. Braden Thornberry, Olive Branch, Miss. (144), 3 and 2

Will Zalatoris, Plano, Texas (143) def. Hugo Bernard, Canada (140), 3 and 2

Round of 16

Upper Bracket

Connor Syme, Scotland (142) vs. Kristoffer Ventura, Norway (141), 1 up

Doug Ghim, Arlington Heights, Ill. (138) def. Joey Vrzich, El Cajon, Calif. (144), 3 and 2

Theo Humphrey, Greenwich, Conn. (136) def. Noah Norton, Chico, Calif. (142), 4 and 3

Chun An Yu, Taiwan (144) def. Collin Morikawa, La Canada Flintridge, Calif. (138), 2 up

Lower Bracket

Dawson Armstrong, Brentwood, Tenn. (143) def. Cheng Jin, China (141), 2 and 1

Mark Lawrence Jr., Richmond, Va. (137) def. Shae Wools-Cobb, Australia (142), 2 and 1

Doc Redman, Raleigh, N.C. (144) def. John Oda, Honolulu, Hawaii (142), 2 and 1

Travis Smyth, Australia (142) def. Will Zalatoris, Plano, Texas (143), 2 and 1


Pairings and tee times for today's quarterfinal round of match play

All Times EDT


Upper Bracket

4:30 p.m. - Connor Syme, Scotland (142) vs. Doug Ghim, Arlington Heights, Ill. (138)

4:35 p.m. - Theo Humphrey, Greenwich, Conn. (136) vs. Chun An Yu, Taiwan (144)

Lower Bracket

5 p.m. - Dawson Armstrong, Brentwood, Tenn. (143) vs. Mark Lawrence Jr., Richmond, Va. (137)

5:15 p.m. - Doc Redman, Raleigh, N.C. (144) vs. Travis Smyth, Australia (142)



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