Coming in as one of the favorites, Tommy Morrison lived up to the hype and took care of business, at least in the stroke-play portion of the championship, earning medalist honors at the 75th U.S. Junior Amateur.
Morrison, 18, of Dallas, Texas, the second oldest player in the field, carded a 3-under par 69 on Tuesday on Daniel Island Club’s Ralston Creek Course to earn the top seed as the championship moves to match play. The round followed up a 66 on Monday that left him in a five-way tie for the lead. Morrison had 10 birdies and one eagle over his 36 holes of stroke play, which took place at both the Ralston Creek and Beresford Creek Courses, resulting in an 8-under par 135.
Morrison, who enrolled early at the University of Texas and played in seven events in the spring of 2023, earlier this year competed alongside former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, also in South Carolina nearby on Kiawah Island.
“It means a lot,” said Morrison of medalist honors. “I want to win as many medals and trophies as I can. Any USGA medal is a good one.”
Morrison’s round was highlighted by a strong birdie-birdie finish, which came on the heels of a double bogey on the par-4 480-yard 16th hole. He hit a 117-yard approach shot to set up a short birdie putt on the par-4 17th, before converting a 7-footer on 18 for birdie courtesy of an 87-yard pitch shot approach.
“I knew in the back of my head I needed to finish well after the double on [No.] 16 if I wanted to get that medal,” said Morrison.
Andrew Gregory, 17, of Spartanburg, S.C., one of five South Carolina natives in the field, finished just one back of Morrison after shooting rounds of 66-70 for a two-day total of 7-under par 136. Gregory, who will begin his freshman season at Liberty University in the fall, is playing in his third straight U.S. Junior Amateur. This is his first time advancing to match play.
“There is always a chance,” said Gregory about the match-play format. “Just let the other person make all the mistakes and just keep it in the fairway. Don’t show any emotion. Just make pars all day and when birdies come, birdies come.”
Tyler Sanford, 16, of Montgomery, Texas, finished two back of the leader at 6-under par, which consisted of two-straight bogey-free rounds.
“I’ve gone bogey-free in a couple rounds [before], but I’ve never done it in back-to-back days,” said Sanford. “That’s pretty cool. Yesterday was a little more nerve-wracking, especially the first few holes, but today I was able to settle in and just go out there and post a good score.”
A quintet of competitors at posted 5-under par 138 overall, including first-round co-leaders Joshua Bai, 17, of New Zealand, and Will Hartman, 16, of Charlotte, N.C.
A playoff will be held at 7 a.m. ET on Wednesday to determine the final seven spots in the match-play bracket. The championship now switches from stroke to match play with the low 64 scorers competing in a knockout format to determine the champion. Match play will be held in its entirety on the Ralston Course. The Round of 64 will begin on Wednesday at 8 a.m. ET. Matches continue through Saturday’s 36-hole championship match. Admission is free and spectators are encouraged to attend.
“I have felt good all week. My confidence level is high, especially after that finish (today).” - Tommy Morrison on his confidence level entering match play
“I hit two good shots and had about 40 feet and it was right in the center. Just took that hole in my head as kind of a long par 4, considering I hit driver and 5-iron. Just two solid shots and happy to make a long putt. It was uphill and probably broke 2 feet to the right.” - Tommy Morrison on his eagle on the sixth hole
“I wanted to make some pars. I had nightmares of [shooting] an 85 today. But it didn’t happen, thank God.” - Andrew Gregory on following up yesterday’s 66
“Today I was like, “okay, let’s go enjoy this,” because I was playing very well, and I knew I was just going to keep that rhythm throughout the round. Then I made one more birdie after that and just parred the rest of the holes.” - Tyler Sanford on following up yesterday’s round
“This is my first USGA event and my last year trying to qualify [for the Junior Amateur]. I really wanted to qualify, and I am pretty happy that I am here and playing well.” - Billy Davis on his week thus far
"Well now everybody’s seen the course at least two times, right? So it won’t be as much of an advantage. We’re going to have to treat everyone like it’s their home course too, and go out and play some good golf.” - Rowan Sullivan, of Charleston, S.C., on if he has any local course advantage