U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
Round 2: Five Things to Watch
July 19, 2016 | Ooltewah, Tenn.
By David Shefter, USGA
The field of 156 will be trimmed to 64 for match play following the second round of stroke play in the 69th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, which begins Tuesday morning at The Honors Course. Here are five things to watch as the match-play picture starts to take shape.
Who Wants to Be Medalist
A couple Houston natives put themselves in strong position for the No. 1 seed on Monday, with Travis Vick carding a course-record 64 and 2015 U.S. Open qualifier Cole Hammer firing a 65. But there are others who are lurking, including 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur semifinalist Won Jun Lee, of the Republic of Korea, who missed a 3-foot par putt that would have matched Hammer’s 65. Lee posted seven consecutive birdies to start his second nine on Monday. Of course, being medalist doesn’t guarantee success in match play. It has been seven years since the medalist has won the title; Jordan Spieth accomplished the feat at Trump National Bedminster for the first of his two championships. Since 2000, the medalist has only claimed two titles: Spieth and Matthew Rosenfeld in 2000 at Pumpkin Ridge.
Cut and Dry
The other end of the medalist spectrum is the cut for match play. Every USGA amateur championship features plenty of anxious competitors surrounding the scoreboard or refreshing their smartphones/tablets/computers to get the latest scoring updates. Where the cut falls is anyone’s guess at the moment, but it likely will be between 5 and 7 over par. The group currently tied for 64th at 3 over par after Round 1 includes 2015 runner-up Andrew Orischak; four-time U.S. Junior Amateur competitor Easton Paxton; Davis Shore, of Knoxville, Tenn.; and Galven Kendall Green, whose older brother Gavin will be representing Malaysia in next month’s Olympics.
Three golfers from Tennessee qualified for the championship, with Ryan Hall, of Knoxville, in the best position to make match play after shooting a 1-over 73 on Monday. The 16-year-old Hall, a rising junior at Halls High School, is competing in his first USGA championship. He has verbally committed to play at the University of South Carolina in the fall of 2018. Jack Rhea, 17, of Jonesborough, posted a 2-over 74 in his first USGA championship. Verbally committed to attend East Tennessee State in 2017, Rhea played baseball through his freshman year at Science Hill High before focusing his full attention to golf. Shore, a three-time U.S. Junior Amateur competitor who has committed to play at the University of Alabama in 2017, shot a 3-over 75 and will have to battle to assure himself a third consecutive appearance in match play. He advanced to the Round of 16 two years ago at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas.
Few people in the field likely had an opening round like Noah Goodwin. The 16-year-old from Corinth, Texas, who plans to attend Southern Methodist University in the fall of 2017, had more birdies (8) than pars (6) in shooting a 1-under 71. Goodwin’s round also featured two bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey on the par-5 11th hole, where he had to take an unplayable lie. “I never mishit a shot and walk away with a triple,” said Goodwin. Nevertheless, his first-round score puts him in solid position to make match play. Last year, Goodwin advanced to the Round of 16 in the U.S. Junior at Colleton River Plantation Club and fell in the first round of match play in the U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club.
Summer golf in the Southeast always brings the possibility of a daily thunderstorm or two. On Monday, a brief heavy rain caused an 18-minute delay and an afternoon thunderstorm created a 97-minute suspension. Hopefully, the weather can cooperate on Tuesday and the stroke-play portion of the competition can conclude as scheduled. Last year’s championship at Colleton was besieged by weather issues and it wasn’t until late Friday that the schedule finally got caught up. The first semifinal match was completed early Saturday before the start of the scheduled 36-hole final. Philip Barbaree prevailed in 37 holes in a championship match uninterrupted by weather.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.