By Art Stricklin for AmateurGolf.com
Goodwin opened with a 71 at Trinity Forest (SMU photo)
DALLAS, TX (May 17, 2018) – Current U.S. Junior Amateur champ Noah Goodwin
is only a few months away from his final exams in high school and attending his first semester at Southern Methodist University, but said he passed a fairly important test Thursday in his first round in a PGA Tour event, carding an opening round 71 in his hometown AT&T Byron Nelson.
“It was a blast. It was a dream come true to get to play with these players today. To get to be out there in my hometown before friends and family, it was just an amazing experience. One I hope to repeat a lot,” said Goodwin, an SMU freshman who lives in nearby Corinth.
As the only amateur in the field, playing on a sponsor’s exemption, Goodwin’s opening score on the Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw links style course beat a third of the professional field including former British Open Champion David Duval by 10 shots.
“We’re just thankful and blessed that he had this chance today,” said his father Jeff Goodwin, who walked all 18 holes to follow his son on a hot and sunny first round. “The Salesmanship Club (which operates the Byron Nelson) didn’t have to give him this chance to chase his dream today and we’re very grateful.”
Goodwin, who has played at Trinity Forest most of the spring with his new SMU teammates, said he wasn’t nervous, only excited to get a chance to play with golfers he hopes to compete against for the next 20 years.
At age 18, he couldn’t legally drive the Lexus Courtesy car he was given as a player in the field, but drove with his caddy, a longtime friend at his home course, Oakmont Country Club in Corinth in plenty of time for his 8:50 a.m. tee time and began his practice routine.
“I wasn’t worried about him being nervous, I was just worried about him being too excited and his 9-iron going 30 or 40 yards longer than it usually does,” Jeff Goodwin said.
Noah opened with two bogeys on his first two holes, 10 and 11, but came back with birdies on holes 14 and 15. On his back nine, he came back with birdies on holes 1, 6-7 and could have had a couple more if he didn’t suffer a couple of three putts down the stretch.
“I thought I hit the ball really crisp and clean off the off the tee box today, but the putting let me down at times,” Noah said.
“I don’t want this to sound bad because it’s really not, but he hit the ball like he belonged here today, but he putted like he didn’t," said Jeff. “He left a lot of putts out there, but he will clean those up.”
Among the honors Goodwin received last summer by winning the U.S. Junior Amateur was a fully exempt spot in the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills next month outside of New York City. He said Thursday’s first professional round before a walking gallery full of family and friends was all part of the learning experience.
Related: Goodwin's Late Rally Wins the U.S. Junior
“I noticed that professional golfers consider every angle of the shot and play at a much more deliberate pace. Nobody just goes up and hits it. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and next month for sure.”
His mother, Lisa, was also part of the gallery and said it was both a thrilling and nerve wracking experience for the entire family.
“We were more nervous than he was because Noah loves playing in front of crowds, but he has never played in front of one this big.”
“It’s the biggest tournament of his life so far,” Jeff added. “But one he can build on and be ready for the next (pro) step when the time is right.”
Editors Note: Noah Goodwin shot a 6-over 77 in the second round to miss the cut