U.S. Junior: Semifinal Match Recaps
21 Jul 2017
by Yianni Gogonas of AmateurGolf.com

see also: View results for U.S. Junior Amateur, Daniel Island Club, Noah Goodwin Rankings

ANDOVER, Kansas (July 21, 2017) — Noah Goodwin, 17, is Golfweek Magazine’s number one ranked junior golfer worldwide. It is only fitting that he has played his way through qualifying, and five of worlds best junior players in route to earning a spot in tomorrow’s 36-hole final match at the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, most recently Indian Rayhan Thomas, 17, in the semifinal match by a score of 5&4.

Goodwin finished runner-up in last years event to Australian Junior Min Woo Lee, who thanks to rule changes this year, was given a chance to defend his title. Unfortunately for Lee, he was knocked out by Chico, California golfer Noah Norton.

This year, Goodwin will face off against Oklahoma State commit, Matthew Wolff, 18. Luckily for Wolff, he has a secret weapon. He has the tournament’s top qualifier and number-one seed on his bag.

After defeating his quarterfinal competitor future roommate and now caddie, tournament number-one seed Austin Eckroat offered to stick around and carry the bag for his buddy. With Eckroat holding the flagsticks, Wolff went on to get the best of South African Garrick Higgo, 18, 3&1.

“It’s really going to be competitive, probably going to have to make a lot of birdies and minimize my mistakes,” mentioned Wolff of the final matchup. “It’s going to be a hard-fought match.”

Goodwin vs. Wolff is set to begin at 6:45 AM CDT


As was his initial plan, Goodwin didn't hesitate at all to put the pressure on Thomas early, rolling in a 10-footer for a birdie on the opening hole. By the 8th, a struggling Thomas was already down four holes losing holes with bogeys on 2, 4, and 7.

After a halving the 8th with pars, Goodwin would miss the green on the 477-yard par-4 ninth hole, and from 10-yards off the green, Goodwin hit the flagstick. The ball seemed to take a second to figure out what it was supposed to be doing, as it hung on the edge for what probably felt like an eternity for Goodwin. The ball eventually turned over and dropped in the cup for a birdie, safely within the 10-second time limit allotted for such situations.

Goodwin would pull the same club for his tee-shot on the 10th, sticking the 58-degree wedge 3-feet from the pin for another birdie and a 6-up lead.

“It [wedge play] definitely has gotten better throughout the week,” said Goodwin. “At the very beginning of the week, especially in stroke play, I really struggled with distance control. But I’ve really tightened that up.”

Thomas would win his first hole of the day with a birdie at the par-5 11th, but halved holes on 12 and 13 would not leave much room for Thomas to make up the deficit. A closing 42-foot par-putt from Goodwin would shut the door on his opponent at the 14th green.


Now-finalist, Matthew Wolf, and South African lefty, Garrick Higgo had a tough battle during the afternoon matches.

Higgo drew first blood on the 2nd, winning with a par at the 398-yard hole. Wolff would “howl” back, birdieing two of his next three holes to win three-straight to go 2-up.

After solid winning holes on 7 and 9, Higgo had once again squared the match.

The duo would halve the 10th, but upon reaching the 11th tee-box, interestingly enough, Wolff would have a one hole advantage.

After finishing out at the 10th, Higgo would accept a ride from a volunteer to the next tee-box, a move that proved to be illegal, essentially giving Matthew Wolff a free match point.

“As soon as he rolled up on that cart, I kind of knew that something was a little wrong,” Wolff said of the antics on the 11th tee. “I felt like that was a little turning point in the match where out of nowhere I just went 1 up.”

Wolff built on the lead, birdieing the short par-4 13th after knocking his 75-yard approach stiff, then rolling in the 8-footer. He would make pars on 14, 15, 16, finishing the match with one more on the 17th.

View results for U.S. Junior Amateur

ABOUT THE U.S. Junior Amateur

While it is not the oldest competition, the U.S. Junior Amateur is considered the premier junior competition, having been around since 1948. The event is open to male golfers who have not reached their 19th birthday prior to the close of competition and whose USGA Handicap Index does not exceed 6.4. The U.S. Junior is one of 14 national championship conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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