Bo Jin yelled at his ball as his 30-foot birdie putt rolled toward the hole Friday at Inverness Club’s par-4 18th hole. The ball listened, dropping and giving Jin a 1-up victory over Kelly Chinn in the semifinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur.
Jin, a 17-year-old from Beijing, will face Preston Summerhays, a 4-and-3 winner over Joe Pagdin in the other semifinal, in Saturday’s 36-hole final.
The younger brother of 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Cheng Jin, Jin entered the week ranked No. 777 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and winless in national amateur and junior events. His best finish is a T-2 showing at last year’s AJGA Junior Players.
He’ll have a chance to break through Saturday after winning a thrilling match over Chinn. Jin built a 3-up lead through five, capping that run with a long birdie make at the par-3 fifth. However, Chinn got two back with pars at Nos. 6 and 7.
Later in the match, Chinn birdied the par-4 11th and parred the par-3 12th to tie things up. And when Jin built another 2-up lead with a 12-foot eagle make at the par-5 13th and par at the par-4 15th, Chinn won Nos. 16 and 17 to send the match to No. 18.
In the end, though, it was Jin willing his ball in the hole at the last and punching his ticket to the final.
Summerhays will be waiting after a convincing win over Pagdin, a likely GB&I Walker Cupper this year at No. 41 in the WAGR.
Pagdin held a 2-up advantage after seven holes before Summerhays won four straight holes and took a 2-up lead of his own. Pagdin was noticeably gassed after a two-month stretch that’s included the U.S. Junior, European Boys Team Championship, Wyndham Cup, The Amateur, St. Andrews Links Trophy and Thunderbird International Junior. He managed to halve the par-4 12th with bogey, but three holes later Summerhays was sinking an 8-footer for par to seal the victory.
Summerhays, the 16-year-old son of instructor and former Tour player Boyd Summerhays (and nephew of current Tour pro Daniel Summerhays), is coming off his second straight Utah State Amateur victory and at No. 208 in the WAGR is, like Jin, looking for his signature national win.