Ricky Castillo (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News photo)
Technically, Ricky Castillo is a junior golfer. The recent high school graduate is headed to the University of Florida in the fall, so he is junior in name only. Castillo, of Yorba Linda, Calif., earned medalist honors in the stroke-play portion of the North & South Amateur on Wednesday by firing rounds of 68-69 at Pinehurst Nos. 2 and 4.
Castillo is the No. 2-ranked junior golfer in the country, according to Golfweek
’s rankings. He got hot right out of the gate on the newly redesigned No. 4 course on Tuesday. He had four birdies on the opening nine, then played the back nine in even par for an opening 68. He came back with a 1-under 69 on No. 2 after making birdie at Nos. 1 and 11 and a bogey at No. 9.
“It’s my third time playing the North & South, so I’ve learned where you want to miss it,” Castillo told tournament officials. “I know on No. 2 that you need to just aim for the fat part of the green and try to leave yourself 20- and 25-footers. That’s much better putting for birdie and making pars along the way than trying to chip up a slope to a tight spot on these greens.”
Behind Castillo, Canadian mid-amateur Garrett Rank was 4 under and solo second. Rank has played each of the last three weeks at the Dogwood Invitational (T-11), Monroe Invitational (T-14) and Northeast Amateur (T-52). When the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball was played at Pinehurst in 2017, Rank and partner Patrick Christovich played all the way to the semifinals.
Liberty University’s Ervin Chang was solo third at 3 under and first-round leader Benjamin Shipp, who plays for N.C. State, slipped to fourth.
The field was cut to the top 32 players, who will now be slotted into a match-play bracket for the next portion of the championship.
Ben Wong, who won the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball on No. 2, was one of the very last men in. He played alongside Castillo for the day, but his round looked much, much different. Wong struggled to a 77 on No. 2, waited a half hour after coming off the golf course, then went back out as part of a nine-for-three playoff. After Hunter Wolcott and Justin Tereshko made birdies to clinch their spots, Wong made a 10-footer of his own for birdie to draw the No. 32 seed.
He’ll play alongside Castillo again on Thursday, but this time in a head-to-head format.
“Ricky is a good friend,” said Wong, who plays for SMU. “And even with the 32 seed, anything can happen in match play. This tournament has shown that.”
Information from North & South tournament officials used in this report
ABOUT THE North & South Amateur
The North & South Amateur Championship is the
longest consecutively run amateur tournament in
United States. Its past winners list includes names
Travis, Francis Ouimet, Billy Joe Patton, Jack
and Curtis Strange. The field is made up of invited
players as well as open applications. Two rounds of
play are followed by five rounds of match play
qualifiers) to determine the Champion. All stroke
& match play rounds are contested on
Pinehurst No. 2.
View Complete Tournament Information