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, 1-up, at Bandon Dunes Resort.
After finishing off his first two opponents this week before the 18th hole, Strafaci has survived some final hole drama to claim his last two victories. Friday, the Davie, Fla., senior led from the sixth hole through the 13th, going 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 tested 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.
“I always dreamed of being in the same conversation as him (USGA champion and grandfather Frank Strafaci) and now I am. To do it at a #USAmateur would be unbelievable. Something I’d never forget for the rest of my life. Something I’ve always dreamed of doing.” – Tyler Strafaci pic.twitter.com/Pn6uyIUkyI
— USGA (@USGA) August 15, 2020
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