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Elma’s Hanes continues to sizzle at International Junior Masters

David Hanes shows no signs of letting up.

The 18-year-old from Elma continued his run through the 64th International Junior Masters on Thursday at East Aurora Country Club, advancing to the semifinals with a pair of victories in the championship flight.

Hanes eliminated Robbie Latter of Mississauga, Ont. in the morning round of 16. Hanes followed that by knocking out East Amherst’s Ben Reichert in the afternoon quarterfinals.

“It’s still going,” Hanes said of his hot streak, which started Monday when he qualified for the Porter Cup, then continued by winning medalist honors after 36 holes of stroke play here.

That’s not to say Hanes wasn’t challenged Thursday. After taking a comfortable 3-up lead through 11 holes against Latter, Hanes watched as his opponent birided the par-5 12th hole, the par-3 13th and the par-4 14th.

“He went on a bit of a run,” Hanes said. “It came out of nowhere, but that can happen in match play.”

Standing on the 16th tee all square, both Hanes and Latter birdied the par-5. Something finally gave on the difficult par-4 17th, when Hanes stuck his approach to 2 feet for an easy birdie. When Latter had a hiccup around the green on the 18th hole, Hanes was through.

“Our combined ball was probably 5- or 6-under on the last seven holes,” he said. “I just stuck to my plan and knew what I could do out there. I’ve been doing it the past four days, so I just kept going.”

That continued into the afternoon against Reichert. A 30-foot birdie putt on the par-4 first hole gave Hanes an early 1-up lead, and from there neither player gave up much. The match remained that way through the turn, before Hanes won the 10th hole for a 2-up lead. Reichert got a shot back on the par-5 12th hole, but Hanes didn’t flinch, sticking his approach on the par-3 15th hole to within 4 feet and converting a downhill slider for birdie.

“That was big,” Hanes said. “It was a good match. I think I was like 1- or 2-under. Ben was like even or 1-over, so we were both playing well. It was a tight match. It was a lot of fun.”

The 18-year-old Reichert lost in the quarterfinals for the second straight year.

“I played all right – he played really good,” Reichert said. “Hats off to him. I know he’s been playing great. I knew I was going to have to shoot something under par. I hit it great, I just didn’t make any putts.”

After Reichert’s birdie attempt to extend the match on the 17th green missed, the two opponents shared a hug in a exemplary display of sportsmanship. If there was any disappointment in Reichert, he didn’t show it as he told Hanes to finish the job Friday.

“I’m really glad I came back,” Reichert said. “This is one of my favorite events. It’s a great event and a great atmosphere to be around.”

Competing in his fifth and final IJM, Hanes has never advanced this far. To become the second straight local winner, he’ll need another good day Friday.

That’s because his semifinal opponent, Luis Carrera of Mexico City might be the next hottest player in the field. Carrera got into the final four by knocking out Colombian Simon Estrada in the round of 16, then steamrolling Rochester’s Jack O’Donovan, 5 and 4, in the quarterfinals.

“My concentration is good. I haven’t made a lot of mistakes,” Carrera said.

Last year, Carrera was knocked out in the round of 32, but went on to win the consolation bracket.

“I like the course a lot,” he said. “The greens are really good. Last year, I was playing good but I got beat in the first match. This year, I really wanted to come here and play good.”

The second semifinal will be made up of Rochester’s Colin Dubnik and Australia Billy Watson. Dubnik knocked out defending champion Marc Holzhauer of Clarence in the round of 16, then beat Canadian Nick Hofland in the semifinals.

Dubnik needed an extra hole to eliminate Holzhauer, who chipped in on the 18th green for a birdie to extend the match.

“There wasn’t anything I could do about that,” Dubnik said. “I played pretty well on the back nine in that match and kept my head in it after he chipped in. Made a nice par on No. 1 in the playoff to win that match, so it was nice.”

Dubnik, an 18-year-old who will play for the University of Memphis in the fall, faced adversity again in the quarterfinal, losing his 2-up lead by dropping the 12th and 13th hloles.

“I kept my head in it, birdied 14, then came back and won 15 with a par,” he said. “The big thing today was a lot of mental fortitude and staying in it. Not getting too ahead of myself or angry or anything.”

“On the back nine I hit it well. The 13th was my only missed green, so I was really steady out there. I hit a lot of greens and put a lot of pressure on him to make pars, which is key in match play. I had two blow-up holes, but in match play it doesn’t really matter.”

Watson defeated Mauricio Figueroa of Mexico 1-up in the round of 16, then beat Mexican Alejandro Madariaga, 6 and 4, in the quarterfinals.

The semifinals of the championship flight will begin at 7:30 a.m. Friday, with the final slated to start at about 1:45 p.m.