A hungry Jeffrey Guan has produced two sublime performances to progress to the quarter-finals of the US Junior at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon early today.
The 18-year-old back-to-back Australian Junior Champion fought back from a two-hole deficit against the 5th seed, Pennsylvania’s Nicholas Gross in a tough morning contest before steamrolling Arizonas Charlie Palmer 5 & 4 in the afternoon round of 16.
Guan’s morning contest against the well-credentialled Gross was a tight affair, with the lead changing hands several times. Despite being two down with six holes remaining, Guan found form with back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14 to square the match.
When he rolled in his fifth birdie of the contest on the 16th to grab the lead was his for keeps, eventually winning one up.
“It was really tough; the whole match was quite tight,” Guan said. ” I was up early, two down midway and then managed to fight back.”
“I think I holed every putt in the last six holes and it definitely gave me momentum for the afternoon.”
Guan showed no mercy to his afternoon opponent. With the wind strengthening on the testing Resort layout, he put on a masterclass, rolling in an incredible eight birdies in a dominant display.
“I was on the range just after lunch working on flighting shots off the tee and found a couple of good fall-back shots that just didn’t leave the flagstick.
“I used them out on the course this afternoon, and a lot of the putts started to drop, too.”
With the tournament approaching the business end, Guan knows all too well the quality of his likely opponents is getting better as he seeks to become only the second Australian since Min Woo Lee to lift the US Junior Crown.
“The field is very strong; everyone plays such aggressive golf. They all putt well, they all hit it well. You’ve got to learn to play agasint strong opponents in both match play and stroke play here.”
Guan will face Eric Lee in the Quarters after the Californian knocked Jack Cantlay, brother of PGA Tour Star Patrick Cantlay, out of the tournament with a 2 & 1 win.
Now just a brace of wins away from emulating one of his idols, Lee, Guan said it’s hard not to forget the West Aussie’s achievement. It doesn’t phase him, however, preferring to keep his thinking no further than his next contest.
“You get notified about all the past champions on all the picture boards driving up to the dress circle (of the clubhouse).
“You see his name up there and think, yeah, but I just like to focus on my next match, and then hopefully do well in that, I’m Just taking it one match at a time.”