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Strafaci Wins Again, Makes U.S. Amateur Semifinals

U.S. Amateur official site  |  Scoring/Match Play Bracket

Bandon, Ore. – Georgia Tech’s Tyler Strafaci continued his magical summer Friday in the quarterfinals of the 120th United States Amateur Championship, winning his second straight thriller by knocking off 29-year-old mid-amateur Stewart Hagestad of Newport Beach, Calif., 1-up, at Bandon Dunes Resort.

After finishing off his first two opponents this week before the 18th hole, Strafaci survived some final hole drama to claim his last two victories and claim a spot in the championship’s final four. Friday, he had to overcome one of the most experienced players in the field, one with 21 USGA tournaments under his belt. Doing so left him two wins away from duplicating the feat his Tech teammate Andy Ogletree accomplished last August.

The Davie, Fla., senior took the lead at the sixth hole and moved ahead 2-up with a birdie at the par-5 13th, but lost the advantage with bogeys at the next two holes. After both players parred the 16th, Strafaci got the upper hand again at 17 after Hagestad, the world’s No. 15-ranked amateur, powered his second shot well beyond the pin on the large green and left his par putt one turn short of dropping in.

At 18, a par-5, Strafaci played conservatively and reached the green with three solid strokes. Hagestad, needing to make an aggressive play, elected to go for the green with a driver from 244 yards and pushed his second shot deep into the waste area to the right of the green. After taking a penalty and a drop, the former USC player pitched close and made his putt for par, forcing Strafaci to make his par putt from about four feet to secure the victory.

Thursday, with the match all square at 18, Strafaci got the win after his opponent, Segundo Oliva Pinto of Argentina, incurred a loss-of-hole penalty when his caddie brushed the sand in which his player’s ball rested. The Tech senior captured a 4 and 2 opening-round victory over Kelly Chinn of Great Falls, Va., and a 2 and 1 win over Julian Perico of Peru in the round of 32.

“Yesterday was one of the weirdest days of my golfing life, the way it happened,” said Strafaci in his post-round interview with Golf Channel. “I knew Stew is one of the best amateurs in the world, and I knew I had to get over that quick, compartmentalize and forget about it and make what I did yesterday worth something. I played as hard as I could and played a really good round of golf to just nip Stew by one.

Strafaci’s semifinal opponent will be Aman Gupta, an Oklahoma State junior from Concord, N.C. An alternate into the original field of 264 players, Gupta is highest seeded player remaining (No. 5). He defeated No. 20 Michael Thorbjornsen of Wellesley, Mass., 1-up, on Friday. Charles Osborne of Reno, Nev., and Matthew Sharpstene of Asheville, N.C. will face off in the other semifinals. The winners will secure spots in the 2021 Masters and U.S. Open.

The 22-year-old Strafaci, who is 9-0 in match play this summer, is attempting to win his third major title this summer and join Tech’s legendary Bobby Jones (1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930), Matt Kuchar (1997) and Andy Ogletree (2019) as champions of the national amateur. He not only has a chance to become the fourth Georgia Tech player to win the U.S. Amateur, but also the second member of his family to win a USGA championship. His grandfather, Frank Strafaci, won the 1935 U.S. Amateur Public Links.

"Today I told myself I had to play one of the best rounds of golf I've ever played, and I thought I did. I had really good composure. I gave up a 2-up lead and really had a good mindset. My dad kept me calm."

Tyler Strafaci on keeping his composure against the No. 15 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking

 

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