Norton reaches round of 16, first Jacket to do so since 2014
Pacific Palisades, Calif. – Georgia Tech freshman Noah Norton became the first Yellow Jacket to reach the round of 16 since 2014, but his run came to an end there Thursday afternoon, while sophomore Tyler Strafaci fell in the round of 32 at the 117th U.S. Amateur Championship at Riviera Country Club.
Norton, a Chico, Calif., native ranked 140th in the World Amateur Golf rankings, was eliminated 4 and 3, by Theo Humphrey of Greenwich, Conn. The senior at Vanderbilt, ranked No. 42 in the world, opened a three-hole lead after six holes. Norton won three of the next five holes, getting birdies and 9 and 11 to close within a hole, but faltered after that with a pair of double bogeys that allowed Humphrey to close out the match on the 15th.
Norton became the first Tech player since Ollie Schniederjans in 2014 to reach the round of 16. No Tech player since Matt Kuchar in 1998 has advanced past the round of 16 (he lost to Sergio Garcia in the quarterfinals). Nicholas Thompson (2004), Roberto Castro (2006), Cameron Tringale (2009) and Schniederjans all reached the round of 16 and lost. No Yellow Jacket has reached the semifinals since Kuchar won the championship in 1997.
In the round of 32 earlier in the day, Norton (Chico, Calif.) was able to get by Cole Madey of West Linn, Ore., a junior at UCLA, 2 and 1. The match went back and forth with neither player getting ahead by more than one hole, and stood all square through 14, but Norton won the next two holes with pars to close it out.
Strafaci (Davie, Fla.) dug himself a big hole early, losing five of the first six holes to Virginia Tech senior Mark Lawrence. But the Yellow Jacket sophomore mounted a charge and won six of the next eight holes, pulling ahead 1-up through 15. After halving at 16, Strafaci bogeyed the par-5 17th to square the match. On 18, both players hit good tee shots, but Lawrence stuck his approach within two feet of the pin. Strafaci hit his second shot to 10 feet but missed his birdie chance, and Lawrence holed his birdie putt to win the match.
The U.S. Amateur continues with quarterfinal matches Friday, followed by semifinal matches Saturday and the 36-hole championship match Sunday.