Paolucci, 14, of Dallas, won the final two holes in regulation of his semifinal match against Sean Brannan before winning the second playoff hole to advance to the final. Brannan missed putts of less than 5 feet on each of the final four holes to provide Paolucci the chance needed to set up the youngest finals matchup in three years.
'He hadn't missed those all days,' Paolucci said. 'Three in a row, that's really not possible. Not to mention a fourth. Every time he missed it he seemed to go down for more, I seemed to gain a little momentum.'
Brannan was 2 up entering No. 17 at Boone Valley Golf Course before his putting gave way. He missed a 5-footer that would have clinched it for him at 17, 18 and the first extra hole before his par attempt from 18 inches out on the second playoff hole lipped out. Paolucci sank his short birdie for the victory.
He'll face Whitsett, 15, of Houston, in the 36-hole final Saturday.
Whitsett had no problem advancing past Wesley Graham in the other semifinal, 6 and 5. He won each of the first five holes despite making birdies on only Nos. 4 and 5. The lead shrank to 4-up where it stood until Whitsett won No. 12 with a par. He also took the 13th hole with a birdie.
'It's a good feeling,' said Whitsett, who lost in the first round of match play a year ago in his only other trip to the championship. 'I had to dig a little deeper this afternoon. I was very tired on the range and I wasn't hitting the ball very well. I just tried to go out and make good swings, take it one shot at a time and try to conserve energy.'
Whitsett needed 19 holes in the morning's quarterfinals to get past Chris Cho, in what was his toughest round in match play. Cho hit a 40-foot putt on No. 18 to even the match before Whitsett's bogey on the extra hole was good enough for a victory.
Paolucci got past Peter Uihlein in his quarterfinal match, making a long putt on No. 18 to advance.
The finals haven't seen a 15- and 14-year-old compete since 2004, when Shiwan Kim defeated his younger opponent, David Chung.
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