PINEHURST, N.C. – After prevailing in a 27-for-3 playoff Wednesday morning at the U.S. Amateur, Austin Squires’ path didn’t get any easier.
His first opponent was the stroke-play medalist.
“I was ecstatic to make it out of the playoff – very happy for that,” he said. “But I just wanted to stay as present as possible.”
After all, Squires knew he had a difficult assignment, squaring off against Brandon Wu, who in the past three months has helped Stanford win an NCAA title, tied for 35th at the U.S. Open and qualified for the Open Championship. “He’s so good,” Squires said, “and coming off an incredible summer.”
In his last summer as an amateur, the Cincinnati product hasn’t been nearly as successful – he missed his last two cuts entering the Amateur – but he found his swing during the practice rounds. When he awoke Wednesday morning, Squires still had no idea whether his 5-over 145 was enough for a playoff, but it turned into a three-hour, four-hole ordeal, his three pars and one birdie securing the 64th and final spot.
Squires had little time to regroup, but he never trailed against Wu, taking the lead for good with a birdie on the par-5 10th. Even after Wu’s dart into 17 cut the deficit to 1 up heading to the last, Squires never faltered. He calmly found the fairway and green, setting up a conceded birdie and 2-up victory.
“Huge confidence boost beating Brandon Wu,” he said.
With Wu’s early exit, the stroke-play medalist at the U.S. Amateur has not gone on to win the title since Ryan Moore in 2004.
Squires, meanwhile, will face Stefano Mazzoli of Italy in the Round of 32.