Joshua Lee defeated co-medalist Zane Thomas 1-up Wednesday in the first round of match play at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Sand Creek Station Golf Course.
Lee barely made the final 64 for match play, chipping in during a playoff for a spot on Tuesday. He didn’t need extra holes against Thomas, clinching the victory with a two-putt from 30 feet on the 18th hole.
Six of the first seven matches were decided on the 18th hole.
Thomas led 2 up through 13 holes, but bogeys at 14 and 17, as well as a drive out of bounds on 16, ruined the 20-year-old Las Vegas resident’s chances.
"Anybody out here can beat anyone else on a given day," said Lee, 19. "That’s what made (Tuesday) so scary in the playoff, but it’s what makes this championship so exciting."
The other three co-medalists won. Doug Ghim, of Arlington Heights, Illinois; Rico Hoey, Rancho Cucamonga, California; and Byron Meth of San Diego, never trailed during their wins Wednesday.
Other winners on Wednesday included 2013 APL medalist Garrett Rank of Canada; 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur runner-up Chelso Barrett of Surry, New Hampshire; and 43-year-olds Jon Veneziano of Mount Dora, Florida, and Jess Bonneau of Houston.
Defending champion Jordan Niebrugge, 52nd seed, beat Dou Zecheng of China, 4 and 2, in a rematch of their quarterfinal in 2013. Niebrugge made six birdies and no bogeys over 16 holes.
"I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens and kept the pressure on him," said Niebrugge, 20, a junior at Oklahoma State. "That’s how I want to play in match play."
The second and third rounds are scheduled for Thursday. The 36-hole final is set for Saturday.