The members at The Country Club of North Carolina will get a chance to see their favourite son for at least one more day.
Jackson Van Paris, 17, who is getting a rare opportunity to compete in a USGA championship on his home course, opened match play on Wednesday in the 73rd US Junior Amateur Championship with a comfortable 4-and-3 victory over fellow North Carolinian Spencer Turtz, of Charlotte.
Van Paris, an incoming freshman at Vanderbilt University, will join medalist Kelly Chinn – along with 14 of the other top-16-seeded players – in Thursday’s Round of 32. The next opponent for Van Paris will be incoming Georgia Tech freshman Benjamin Reuter, 18, of the Netherlands, at 7:12 a.m. ET.
Reuter, competing in his first USGA championship and fourth event ever in the US, played the equivalent of four-under-par golf (with concessions) in ousting the youngest player to make the match-play field, Matvey Golovanov, 14, of the Russian Federation, 6 and 5.
With a gallery of some 30 friends and family, Van Paris jumped out to a quick lead, going 5 up after 10 holes, including three in a row from No.8. Van Paris said the par-5 5th, where he got up and down from the drop zone to go 2 up, was a critical hole in the match.
“That was one of the biggest moments for me in the match,” said Van Paris, the runner-up in the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst No. 2 earlier this month. “Spencer and I are good friends, so you just hate … playing your friend in the first round of match play. It's unfortunate. But we had fun.”
Van Paris finished before the mercury creeped into the 90s on a typical sultry summer day in the Sandhills. Despite the sticky temperatures and humidity, few of the top players had to sweat out their Round-of-64 matches.
Chinn, 18, of Great Falls, Va., had to wait until the last tee time (2:12 p.m.) before starting his contest against Brendan Valdes, 18, of Orlando, Fla., the last player to make the draw following Wednesday morning’s 13-for-10 playoff. But after a tight opening nine, the No.39 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR® and incoming Duke University freshman cruised to a 3-and-2 win.
“I guess a little bit harder opponent than I would expect for the [Round of] 64, but at the same time, though, I've just got to play whoever I play,” said Chinn, who matched the 36-hole US Junior Amateur stroke-play scoring record of 132. “We both played some really solid golf. I don't think we made a bogey on the front nine. I knew if I just continued to play my game … that eventually my lead would grow, which is what happened.”
No.2 seed Andrew Goodman, 18, of Norman, Okla., headed to hometown University of Oklahoma this fall, won four holes in a row from No.5 in his 5-and-4 victory over Rylan Wotherspoon, of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Both Ford twins, 18, from Peachtree Corners, Ga., also advanced. No.4 seed David, a left-hander headed to the University of North Carolina next month, claimed five of six holes starting at No.8 en route to a 5-and-4 win over Rylan Johnson, of Gilbert, Ariz. No.7 seed Maxwell, a Georgia signee, built a 5-up lead through nine holes before settling for a 2-and-1 win over Connor Williams, of Escondido, Calif.
And No.3 seed Nicholas Dunlap, 17, of Birmingham, Ala., a former Punt, Pass & Kick national finalist, eliminated Jack Turner, of Orlando, Fla., 3 and 2.
The lone upset among the top-16 seeds was Jonas Appel, 17, of Encinitas, Calif., taking out No.11 Benjamin James, of Milford, Conn., 2 and 1.
One of the wildest matches of the day saw No.5 seed Caleb Surratt, 17, of Indian Trail, N.C., last week’s winner of the PGA Junior Championship, overcome an early 3-down deficit to defeat Daniel Choi, of Keller, Texas, the son of eight-time PGA Tour winner K.J. Choi.