Christian Banke rises to top of North & South bracket as match play begins

·2 min read

When you’re on, you’re on and lately, Christian Banke is on.

Earlier this month, the 24-year-old from Danville, California was medalist at the California Amateur. This week, across the country, he’s the stroke-play medalist at the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst. Banke, who just wrapped up his graduate senior season at Arizona, set himself apart in a field of the world’s best amateurs with rounds of 65 and 67 at Pinehurst Nos. 4 and 2 over the past two days, and now gets the top spot on the bracket. He’ll take on Cal senior Finigan Tilly in the first round of match play.

“I started off really well with a birdie on the first and was able to keep the momentum going,” Banke told Pinehurst writer Alex Podlogar. “No. 2 is really hard, and I knew it wasn’t a course where I could expect to make a lot of putts. I figured as long as I was two-putting, I was going to be pretty happy.”

Scores: North & South Amateur

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After the first round, Banke was part of a three-way tie for the lead with Stanford’s Karl Vilips and Clemson’s Zack Gordon, but he broke out of that on Wednesday for a one-shot edge on Vilips.

While that trio was more than safe, nine men found themselves in a tie for 28th at 1 over and had to play off for the final five spots on the leaderboard. Tilly, Carson Lundell, Chad Wilfong, William Moll and Tyler Wilkes advanced.

A number of intriguing head-to-head matches are on the way in the Round of 32, which will commence on No. 2 on Thursday morning. Near the top of the bracket, Pinehurst native Jackson Van Paris will take on 2018 Eastern Amateur champion Nick Lyerly, who walked away with the No. 8 seed after rounds of 67-70.

Kentucky’s Alex Goff meets Jonathan Yaun, who notably won his Round of 16 match at the 2020 North & South Amateur when he opened with a front-nine 28 on Pinehurst No. 2. Yaun, who plays for Liberty, got past Oklahoma State’s Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen by a 9-and-8 margin that day.

Abel Gallegos, who won the 2020 Latin America Amateur, meets Kelly Chinn, last year’s AJGA Rolex Player of the Year who is headed to Duke this fall. Right below that, Charlotte’s Ben Woodruff will take on Louis Dobbelaar, who already has the Australian Amateur and Dogwood Invitational titles on his 2021 resume.

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