Bryan Kim, 18, of Brookeville, Md., and Joshua Bai, 17, of New Zealand, each won quarterfinal and semifinal matches in at times rainy conditions on Friday to advance to Saturday’s 36-hole final match of the 75th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the par-72, 7,262-yard Daniel Island Club (Ralston Creek Course). The final is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. EDT. Golf Channel will provide live coverage of the afternoon portion of the final.
Kim, who did not qualify for match play in his previous two U.S. Junior Amateur appearances, defeated Will Hartman 16, of Charlotte, N.C., 2 and 1, in the semifinals. Bai, who is attempting to become the fourth New Zealander to win a USGA championship, joining Michael Campbell, Danny Lee and Lydia Ko, held off Billy Davis, 17, of Spring Valley, Calif., 3 and 1.
“I didn't even imagine this last year after missing the cut, and the year before, but I knew my game this year was in a good spot, said Kim, who will be a freshman at Duke University next month. “I didn't have the tournament results that I wanted earlier this summer, but I knew I was coming around, just working a lot on my game, and I felt like I was kind of due to play some good golf, so hopefully I can keep it up and maybe bring home the title.”
Kim, No. 443 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR®, made a short birdie putt on the drivable par-4 eighth and sank a left-to-right breaking 15-footer for another birdie on the following hole to build a 3-up lead. He held that the rest of the way against his East teammate from the recent American Junior Golf Association’s Wyndham Cup.
Bai, a match play qualifier in his first Junior Amateur last year at Bandon Dunes, constructed a commanding 5-up margin with birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 in his semifinal. He holed a 25-footer from across the green and followed with a precise 4-iron to the 234-yard, par-3 12th. From there, Davis made a late run with back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 before Bai closed out the match with an approach shot to 5 feet on No. 17. His birdie was conceded when Davis failed to hole a chip from the fringe.
“It's really cool,” said Bai about playing for a national championship and a 2024 U.S. Open exemption. “Just thinking about how the Kiwi Michael Campbell, how he won at Pinehurst, and how cool it to be to follow in his footsteps and try to be there. It would mean a lot.”
In the morning quarterfinals, Kim birdied the last two holes to overcome Edan Cui, 16, of Stanford, Calif., to post a 1-up victory. He got up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the drivable, 303-yard, par-4 17th and then delivered an 128-yard gap wedge on No. 18 to within 11 feet to set up the winning putt.
“It feels really good,” said Kim, about seeing that birdie putt on No. 18 find the hole. “I play golf for moments like this, and just like I knew it was in right when I hit it. There's no better feeling.”
Bai, No. 267 in the WAGR®, won the last three holes in his quarterfinal match with Zeqian Fang, 18, of the People’s Republic of China, to record a 2-up decision. After a par won No. 16, he nearly drove the 17th green, leading to a conceded birdie. His 97-yard third shot on the par-5 18th hole nestled to 12 feet, which he didn’t have to putt after Fang missed his birdie attempt.
“I just stayed patient,” said Bai, who rallied from 4 down and 2 down in his previous two matches. “Did the same thing, kept hitting fairways, kept hitting greens, put the pressure on my opponent, and yeah, I just took the opportunities and managed to get it done.”
Hartman, who celebrated his 17th birthday on Friday, got his party started by winning three consecutive holes on the inward nine to build a 2-up lead in his quarterfinal against top seed and medalist Tommy Morrison, 18, of Dallas, Texas. After the rising University of Texas sophomore posted a par to win No. 12 to slice the deficit in half, Hartman birdied the next two holes, including the 13th when he chipped in from five yards in front of the green, en route to the 1-up victory.
“[I] definitely I got a break there, said Hartman, who used a 58-degree wedge to hole the shot. “I actually chipped in, and he had about 20 feet for birdie, and I think if I didn't make it, he probably would have made it. But match play stuff happened, and it ended up flipping.”
“I think I had opportunities early that I didn't convert on,” said Morrison, the first No. 1 seed to reach the quarterfinals since 2017. “Will took over there for a little bit in the middle of the round. He played really steady all day.”
Davis, whose twin sister, Anna, claimed last year’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur, won five consecutive holes on the outward nine to register a 6-and-4 decision over hometown favorite Rowan Sullivan, 18, of Charleston, S.C. Davis ignited that run with a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 7 after his opponent had chipped in for a par. He added birdies on Nos. 8 and 10 when he stuffed approached shots, the first one with a gap wedge and the second with an 8-iron.
Davis said he welcomed all of Sullivan’s support that came out to cheer on the Charleson native. “It was kind of good for me because it kind of motivated me more to hit better shots,” said Davis. “He would hit one close, and they'd all cheer for him, and I'd try to hit one even better.”
Saturday’s 36-hole championship match will commence at 8 a.m. EDT and is scheduled to resume after the lunch break at 1:30 p.m. Golf Channel has live coverage from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EDT. Admission is free and spectators are encouraged to attend.
“I only missed one or two greens this afternoon, and I'm seeing the lines really well on the greens. With the rain on and off, the speed of the greens was a little hard to judge, but I felt good. I knew if I was confident in my line, I was very confident it would go in.” – Bryan Kim on well he played in his semifinal match
“One thing that I really like is how she carries herself, how she walks. She walks like she's leading a golf tournament every time, even when she's not winning.” – Billy Davis on what he takes away from watching his twin sister, Anna, play golf
“What a week to end off my junior career. This being the last tournament of my summer before I go to college is awesome, and to have such a special week with all the support, it just means the world. There's no better way to end it, with the biggest tournament in the world and playing well. It made my summer for sure.” – Rowan Sullivan on his overall performance
“I'll be honest, you always want to try and win, but I did not think I would make it this far. I was just thrilled that I was able to, and it was awesome. Learned a lot from it.” – Will Hartman on playing in his first U.S. Junior Amateur Championship
“I mean, when you're 5-down there's not much you can really do but just try to hit the next shot as best you can. Took a lot of pressure off me for sure, and I just was free-swinging it and hit one close on 15 and then made a long one on 16, which felt good.” – Billy Davis on how he fought to the end of his semifinal match
“I'm glad I could come back to another U.S. Junior. It's something I wasn't even thinking about six months ago, and thankfully I don't turn 19 for another couple weeks, so I got to play, and I'm so glad I did. There's a lot to build off of this week, and I had a lot of nice golf this week.” – Tommy Morrison on his takeaways from the week
Brian DePasquale is the USGA’s senior manager of championship communications. Email him at email@example.com.