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At U.S. Junior, a trio of medalists in Castillo, Moll, Mouw
Ricky Castillo (far right) (USGA/Darren Carroll)
Ricky Castillo (far right) (USGA/Darren Carroll)

Three players – William Mouw and Ricky Castillo of California and William Moll of Houston, Texas – completed 36 holes at 4-under-par 138 to share medalist honors as the 156-player field for the 72nd U.S. Junior Amateur Championship was trimmed for match play on Tuesday at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

Sixty-five players completed 36 holes over the historic Donald Ross-designed layout at 8-over-par 150 or better. Eight players who finished at that 150 total will play off for the final seven spots in the match-play bracket on Wednesday, beginning at 7 a.m. on No. 10. The Round of 64 will also be contested on Wednesday, starting at 7:40 a.m.

After starting his round with back-to-back bogeys, Castillo, 18, of Yorba Linda, Calif., played his final 16 holes in 5 under, with 12 pars, three birdies and an eagle on the 522-yard, par-5 13th hole. Castillo, who will attend the University of Florida in the fall, was the No. 2 seed in last year’s championship at Baltusrol Golf Club and has advanced to the Round of 16 in each of the past two years.

“It’s pretty special knowing that you have come out on top of 156 players, with two really good friends,” said Castillo, who is No. 22 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), second-best in this week’s field. Of his eagle, Castillo said, “I took the more aggressive route [with his drive] and had only 156 yards in. I hit a pitching wedge just 20 feet left of the hole. Just tried to hit a good putt and it fell.”

Mouw, 18, of Chino, Calif., birdied his final hole on Tuesday, the par-4 ninth, to complete a pair of 2-under 69s. Mouw, who at No. 26 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) holds the third-highest position in the field this week, captured the California State Amateur two weeks ago and will attend Pepperdine University in the fall.

“It’s cool, but it’s not the win,” said Mouw of sharing medalist honors. “I’m not too pumped. The job’s not finished.”

Moll, 18, overcame a double-bogey 6 on the 349-yard 18th hole, his ninth hole of the day, to tie the low round of the day, a 3-under 68. Moll, who will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall, carded 10 birdies over the two rounds.

Defending champion Michael Thorbjornsen, 17, of Wellesley, Mass., recorded rounds of 71-68 in stroke play, one shot behind the leading trio at 3-under 139, and is the No. 5 seed. Thorbjornsen, who defeated Akshay Bhatia, 1 up, in last year’s final at Baltusrol, hopes this week to join Tiger Woods, the only player to successfully defend his U.S. Junior Amateur title. Woods won a record three straight from 1991-93.

Thorbjornsen was joined at 139 by Luke Potter, 15, of Encinitas, Calif., who is competing in his first USGA championship. Potter led La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad to the 2019 state title as a freshman and is joined in match play by La Costa Canyon teammate Kenta Yamawaki, who finished at 4-over 146.

Bhatia, last year’s runner-up, shot 70-71 in stroke play to earn the No. 6 seed. Bhatia, 17, of Wake Forest, N.C., is No. 4 in the WAGR, tops in the field this week.

ABOUT THE U.S. Junior Amateur

While it is not the oldest competition, the U.S. Junior Amateur is considered the premier junior competition, having been around since 1948. The event is open to male golfers who have not reached their 19th birthday prior to the close of competition and whose USGA Handicap Index does not exceed 6.4. The U.S. Junior is one of 13 national championship conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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