Gaunt's Comeback Falls Short in Round of 16 at U.S. Amateur
BATON ROUGE– LSU’s Connor Gaunt finished his run at the 123rd U.S. Amateur with a 2 up loss through 18 to Andi Xu Thursday evening in the round of 16 at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado.
Gaunt, the Arkansas native, advanced to the match play portion of the championship after posting a 1-under 142 (70-72) during the 36-holes of stroke play on Monday and Tuesday.
Round of 32
Gaunt started the day at 10:50 a.m. CT as he teed off in the match play round of 32 against Austin Greaser of Ohio. Gaunt, world ranked No. 323 won the match 3 and 2 against Greaser, who is currently world No. 8.
During the round of 32 on Thursday, Gaunt never trailed in the match as he went 1-up on the opening 401-yard hole No. 1. He extended his lead to 3-up after an eagle on No. 5 and a birdie on No. 6. Gaunt won holes No. 11 and No. 15 and then halved No. 16 to end the match 3 up.
Gaunt, who was seeded No. 42 in the 64-player match play field, clinched the win over Greaser with a par on the 16th hole. Gaunt advanced to face 7-seeded Andi Xu of China in the round of 16.
Round of 16
Xu finished the stroke play atop the leaderboard with a 6-under performance to end day two T4 and earn the No. 7 seed. Xu is a 21-year-old senior at the University of San Diego.
Gaunt took a 1 up lead on the opening hole of the round as he took advantage of a rare bogey from his opposition. Xu tied things back up with a birdie on No.3 and went on to win four-straight on Nos. 6-9 to be 4 up at the turn.
Gaunt gained one back on No. 10 with a par but Xu went back to 4 up with an eagle on the par-5 639-yard hole of No. 11. Gaunt fought till the very end as he won two-straight holes that included a 10 ft+ birdie putt on the par 3 at No. 15.
No. 16 was halved and Gaunt took a -hard fought- must-win hole No. 17 to extend the match as both players found the water on their approach. Xu won the final hole with a par and ended Gaunt’s run.
Gaunt will adjust his focus back on LSU as he heads back to Baton Rouge and gears up for his final season as a graduate student.