RICO Hoey took control with back-to-back wins from No. 10 and held on for a 3 and 2 win over Taylor Funk in the first round of match play of the US Amateur Championship on Wednesday at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek Georgia (Thursday, Manila time).
Hoey, a member of the Philippine team that won the Putra Cup last year, set up a round of 32 match with Jon Rahm of Spain, a 3 and 2 winner over Beau Hossler of California.
Funk, son of eight-time PGA Tour winner Fred Funk, managed to keep in step with Hoey in the early goings until the Fil-Am shotmaker went 2-up in the 11th.
A bogey by Hoey on No. 13 allowed Funk to close in, winning with a par, but the USC Trojan bounced right back on the next hole with a birdie for the two-win cushion and closed out the match with another birdie on the 16th.
Nathan Smith and Jesse Heinkly, who survived a 17-man playoff for the last four match-play spots on Wednesday morning, toppled the co-medalists in stroke play.
Smith, a 36-year-old Pittsburgh financial adviser, beat co-medalist Lee McCoy in 19 holes, while Oregon’s Heinly beat Taylor Moore 3 and 2.
The oldest player left in the field, Smith pulled even with a birdie win on the par-3 17th, matched University of Georgia junior McCoy with par on the par-5 18th and won with a par on the par-4 19th.
Last year in the Walker Cup on Long Island, Smith won the deciding point in the United States' 17-9 victory over Britain and Ireland. He's a four-time US Mid-Amateur champion.
"It was a long day. That was a lot of fun," said Smith, a 14-time US Amateur participant who won a first-round match for the first time in nine years. "You know, I think it's one of those, I was so excited to be there. Kind of nothing to lose and I just got lucky."
Heinly plays at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.
"My goal was just to make the match play here," Heinly said. "I love playing match play because it wipes the score, just one-on-one. Thought maybe I had a pretty good chance."
Ryan Moore was the last stroke-play medalist to win the tournament, accomplishing the feat in 2004.
Another playoff survivor, Canada's Garrett Rank beat fourth-seeded Jimmy Beck of Columbus, Georgia, 1 up. Rank, a 26-year-old hockey referee, made a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to win the match.
"I knew going into 18, if I could put two good swings on it, or at least give myself a chance to go for the green, that I could make birdie," Rank said.
The highest seeded player to win was Taiwan's Cheng-Tsung Pan, a senior at the University of Washington who qualified third. He beat Zach Healy of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, 4 and 2.
Georgia Tech's Ollie Schniederjans, No. 1 in the world amateur ranking, beat Matt Teesdale of Maple Glen, Pennsylvania, 6 and 5. Second-ranked Robbie Shelton of the University of Alabama also advanced, topping Dan Stringfellow of Roselle, Illinois, 2 and 1. Will Zalatoris of Plano, Texas, the Wake Forest-bound player who won US Junior last month, beat Oklahoma State star Jordan Niebrugge 2 and 1.