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Final four set at International Junior Masters

Only four golfers remain in the winner's bracket at the International Junior Masters after 16 started the day with a chance at the title. Lakeland, Tennessee's Spencer Jenkins, Australia's Billy Watson, Rochester's Danny Gianinny and Ontario's Eric Shea will play the semifinals Friday morning (Jenkins vs. Watson and Gianinny vs. Shea), before the winners face off for the championship around 2 p.m.

Here's how each of the four advanced to the semifinals.

No. 2 seed Eric Shea

After winning his Round of 32 and Round of 16 match-play tilts each with multiple holes remaining, it came down to the last hole in Shea's Round of 8 matchup against Colombia's Andres Quintanilla. Shea owned a two-hole advantage after nine holes but found himself down one after the 13th hole. On the 16th hole, at all square, Quintanilla lipped out a 50-foot eagle put before Shea sunk a 15-footer for eagle to go 1-up. From there, the two scored the same on holes 17 and 18, Shea taking home a one-up victory.

"It's awesome. Longest I've been in this tournament in the three years," Shea said. "The back nine got a little rough...I told myself, 'I'm winning this match.' I felt like I was playing well enough that it was my match to win."

No. 3 seed Danny Gianinny

Gianinny has been coming to the Junior Masters at East Aurora Country Club since he was 12, when his older brother played in the event. This is his third year playing, and it's his first appearance in the winner's bracket semifinals after bowing out in the Round 0f 32 as the No. 2 seed last year. Gianinny defeated Quebec's Remi Chartier, two up, only bogeying two of his 18 holes on the afternoon.

"I just really didn't give him much out there. I'm just a pretty steady player. I make a lot of pars," Gianinny said. "...The only way he was beating me on holes was if he was making birdies...you can make birdies and you can win that way, but if you're just grinding, you could par the other guy to death because they're not going to be making birdies on every hole."

No. 5 seed Billy Watson

Both Watson and his opponent, Colombia's Nicolas Rubio, had short putts on the 18th green for par, the match all square and a 19th hole seemingly up next. But Rubio dragged his wide left of the hole and Watson sunk his, the Australian advancing to the semifinals for the second year in a row. It came down to the wire after Rubio drilled a 50-foot putt on the 16th to halve the hole, still down one, and then chipped in from off the green to bring the match all square after 17.

"I thought he nearly chipped it in on 18, too. It's just relief," Watson said. "...(The winning putt) was probably the most nervous putt all day. I got to the semifinal last year, so just trying to go one better."

Australia's Billy Watson won his quarterfinal match on the 18th hole. (James P. McCoy/The Buffalo News)

No. 17 seed Spencer Jenkins

Jenkins defeated the 32nd seed, Cole Hague, in the morning, 2-up. Then in the afternoon's Round 0f 8, he took down 13-year-old Nolan Piazza of Ontario, 3 and 1. Jenkins had the second-biggest winning margin in the Round of 32 and the biggest in the Round of 8, as the Lakeland, Tennessee teenager will face Watson in the first semifinal Friday morning.

 

 

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