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Stoll, Yustin survive first-round matches

After missing the cut at the qualifier for the 59th International Junior Masters, Desmond Stoll of Lockport just assumed his chances at playing in the tournament were over.

But Wednesday, in the first round of match play in the championship flight, it was Stoll advancing to the round of 16 at East Aurora Country Club.

"I hit my irons pretty well today," Stoll said. "I didn't make a lot of putts, but I gave myself a lot of good looks."

Stoll was one of five local players to advance to the championship flight in the tournament. Austin Nowak of Lancaster, Daniel Yustin of East Amherst, Jacob Kreuz of Amherst, and James Blackwell of North Tonawanda all placed in the top 32 of the 82-man field after the two rounds of medal play.

Stoll and Yustin were the only ones to survive the first round of match play as the field was narrowed to 16. There will be two more rounds of match play today.

As for Stoll, he took down Nowak, 2 and 1. Nowak is a veteran of the tournament known for his stunning defeat of the then-No. 2 seed Brent McKenzie in 2008. Nowak was the 31st seed in the championship flight that year and went onto his first of two finishes in the top eight of the tournament.

But this year it was Stoll coming through with the upset.

"I'm pretty happy," Stoll said. "Austin is a really good player and he was making everything out there and really took me down to the wire. It was really good to get a win out of it."

Stoll started the day winning the first two holes and never trailed in the match. Nowak battled back from two down on two separate occasions and looked like he might do it a third time on the par-4 17th tee.

Nowak hit a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 16th to bring Stoll's lead down to one, but a solid iron shot on 17 helped Stoll get his par and close Nowak out.

"I'm just sticking to my game plane," Stoll said. "Just trying to stay focused, I know it's cliche, but I'm just trying to take it one shot at a time. Everyone says that but you know that's what you got to do. Just stick to my game plane and not worry about anybody else."

This is Stoll's first year at the Junior Masters, and he will play at Central College in Pella, Iowa.

Yustin, on the other hand, ran away with his match when he defeated Thomas Kolb of Farmington, 6 and 5.

It was a disappointment for Yustin earlier in the day when he posted a 9-over 80 in his second round of medal play, but said he was happy to come away with victory in his first match.

The match ended on the 13th hole, when Kolb hit his drive out of bounds while Yustin stripped his right down the fairway. The All-Catholic champion will attend the University of Hartford to play golf.

"I had high expectations for myself coming into the tournament," Yustin. "I worked real hard, it feels good that I actually got success."

Of the matches that involved local players, none was closer then the one between Blackwell and Rhyne McLeod Jones of Blowing Rock, N.C. Jones won with a par on the 19th hole.

McLeod Jones was the No. 3 seed in the championship flight, while Blackwell had to compete in a playoff for his spot in the championship flight. Blackwell held the lead for a majority of the match, but lost his lead and stamina on No. 14.

"I didn't lose because of how I was playing," Blackwell said. "I just started losing gas around 13 or 14."

The St. Joe's senior was visibly tired -- lagging behind McLeod Jones as the two walked to their balls on the extra hole -- and said that he knew something was wrong when he stopped sweating and his mouth went dry.

The match ended when Blackwell's par putt barely missed the cup from 20 feet.

"On the last few holes it was just all arms," Blackwell said. "You have to use your body when you're hitting long irons and I just didn't have my body."

In this morning's matches, Yustin will play Mauricio Lira of Mexico while Stoll will face Gonzalo Rubio of Mexico.

e-mail: rmarfurt@buffnews.com