Date: July 19, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Vilips holds nerve at US Boys’ Junior

Australian Karl Vilips survived a huge scare today, but advanced to the Round of 32 at the US Boys’ Junior Amateur in New Jersey.

Vilips made a clutch 3m par putt on the 18th hole of the Upper Course at famous Baltusrol to hold off Peru’s Julian Perico 1-up.

But he’ll be left to fly the Aussie flag alone after Queenslander Jed Morgan suffered the other side of fickle match play fate, losing by the same score on the same hole.

Morgan, seeded No.48 after the stroke play phase, led No.17 Jolo Magcalayo for much of the front nine after winning the second hole with a par.

But the Filipino took advantage of three Morgan bogeys from the seventh to the 12th to go 2-up.

The Aussie made two birdies either side of a bogey on the 15th to pull back within one, but squandered a chance to force extra holes with a bogey on the last that was only good for a half and 1-down result.

Vilips, though, was on the right side of the drama from an Australian perspective.

The Florida-based Victorian, seeded No.3, was impressive throughout his match, finishing square with the card.

But the Peruvian was mercurial enough to provide an ever-present challenge. Perico birdied the eighth and ninth to pinch a 1-up lead momentarily, then eagled the par-five 17th to pull back within one of Vilips.

The Aussie found himself at the base of a hill right of the par-four 18th green for two, knocked his third to 3m and calmly rolled in a putt to halve the hole and advance with a big fist pump.

And Vilips quickly looked ahead to his Round of 32 and, potentially, Round of 16 matches tomorrow.

“I feel like I've conserved my energy pretty well this week,” he said.

“I've just come off a couple of 36-hole events and I think the way I maintain my nutrition and hydration during the day is going to be key.”

Vilips was one of a slew of the top seeds to advance on a day of few upsets.

The top nine seeds, and 13 of the top 14, won their matches with only Albanian Ilirian Zalli, the 10th seed, falling among the favourites.

The next two rounds of match play will be contested tomorrow.