LIVE Scoring and Preview: U.S. Junior Championship
Kiko Coelho, who won the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball title in May, <br>is the lone USGA champion in the field (Robert Beck, USGA)
Kiko Coelho, who won the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball title in May,
is the lone USGA champion in the field (Robert Beck, USGA)

The long wait is finally over. COVID-19 put a wrench into the expansion of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship field, as the 2020 championship scheduled for Hazeltine National Golf Club, in Chaska, Minn., was canceled.

But 264 players – up from the previous 156 – have arrived at The Country Club of North Carolina in the Village of Pinehurst looking to be the next champion of the most prestigious competition in junior golf. They have come to the Sandhills from 42 states and 22 foreign countries to compete on the club’s two courses: Dogwood and Cardinal. Each competitor will play 18 holes on each course over the first two days, with the Dogwood Course serving as the match-play venue beginning on Wednesday for the low 64 scorers.

CCNC also becomes the 16th venue to have hosted both USGA junior championships, having held the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 2010 (Doris Chen won). Last week, Columbia C.C., in Chevy Chase, Md., also joined that prestigious group after hosting the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2003 (Brian Harman).

The field expansion for the Junior Amateur was the result of two factors: the USGA’s decision to raise the age limit from 17 to 18 (a player cannot have turned 19 by July 24, the last day of the championship) and the rising numbers in junior golf, especially globally. A U.S. Open exemption to the winner that began in 2017 has also raised interest in the championship.

The quest begins in earnest on Monday with Round 1 of stroke play.

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Three Things to Know

Home, Sweet Home
As one of the top juniors in the country, Jackson Van Paris is accustomed to getting attention. But the incoming Vanderbilt University freshman will be the headliner this week, for good reason. Not only is the 17-year-old a Pinehurst resident, he’s a member at The Country Club of North Carolina. Two weeks ago, Van Paris, whose house overlooks the Cardinal Course, reached the championship match of the prestigious North & South Amateur at nearby Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2. His play, which ended with a 19-hole defeat to Louis Dobbelaar, of Australia, brought out hundreds of area golf enthusiasts.

For several years, Van Paris has had this championship circled on his competitive calendar.

Now Van Paris, who won his first match in the 2018 U.S. Amateur at the age of 14 (the youngest to accomplish the feat since Bob Jones in 1916), is getting the honor of hitting the opening tee shot off No. 1 on the Dogwood Course at 7 a.m. EDT.

He will be one of four Pinehurst residents kicking off the event. Maddox Whittington, also a CCNC member, will be first off No. 10 of Dogwood. Sihan Sandhu will play first from No. 1 on Cardinal, and Holland Giles goes off No. 11 at Cardinal (because of the course configuration, players are starting on Nos. 1 and 11). No matter how all four players fare this week, it’s sure to be a moment they won’t forget.

International House of Golfers
This being an Olympic year – though it was also delayed by the pandemic – many eyes will be focused on what transpires in Tokyo. But the U.S. Junior Amateur also features quite a melting pot of nations. Field expansion allowed the USGA to offer more exemptions off the World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR® (top 85 age-eligible points leaders), as well as more spots to qualifiers, all of which has led to opportunities to compete on junior golf’s grandest stage.

Despite travel challenges, 36 international players are competing, including a trio from non-traditional golf countries: Bulgaria (Sam Brown), Ukraine (Mykhailo Golod) and Russia (Matvey Golovanov). Brown and Golod are the first players from their respective countries to compete in a USGA championship. Earlier this year, Adrian Meronk became the first player from Poland to play in the U.S. Open, while Luis Fernando Barco became the first from Peru to compete.

While 69 of the 72 previous champions have been Americans – Min Woo Lee (2016, Australia), Sihwan Kim (2004, Korea) and Terry Noe (1994, Korea) are the lone international winners – plenty of international players have made strong bids in the championship. Two years ago, Bo Jin, of the People’s Republic of China, went from alternate to runner-up. Future Masters champion Trevor Immelman (1997), of South Africa, and future PGA Tour winner Aaron Baddeley (1998), of Australia, also were finalists.

Chip Off the Old Block
Anyone who follows golf will remember John Daly’s improbable run to the 1991 PGA Championship as the ninth and final alternate into the field at Crooked Stick. The long-hitting Arkansas native would go on to win a second major – the 1995 Open Championship – in a playoff over Constantino Rocca at St. Andrews.

While Daly still regularly competes on the PGA Tour Champions, the next generation is just beginning. John Daly II, of Dardanelle, Ark., is looking to follow in his father’s footsteps. The 17-year-old, who first hit a golf ball at age 2, is even going to play at his dad’s alma mater, the University of Arkansas. Little John, as friends and family call him, has inherited his dad’s golf DNA, especially in the power department. Coaches and other observers also say he already has an elite short game. His position in the WAGR earned him an exemption into his first USGA championship.

Daly’s talent will be on display beginning at 7:55 a.m. Monday off No. 1 of the Dogwood Course.

Inside the Field

Oldest Competitors: Jordan Gilkison (18, born 7-26-02), Mateo Fuenmayor (18, born 8-8-02), Cohen Trolio (18, born 8-8-02), Jayce Hargrove (18, born 8-9-02), Buck Brumlow (8-12-02), Jolo Timothy Magcalayo (18, born 8-18-02), Hayden Carner (18, born 8-20-02), Jay Nimmo (18, born 8-21-02), Zach Reuland (18, born 8-23-02), Robbie Higgins (18, born 8-27-02), Justin Ross (18, born 8-28-02), Marshall Meisel (18, born 9-4-02), Conor Gough (18, born 9-5-02), Myles Jones (18, born 9-5-02)

Youngest Competitors: Davis Wotnosky (12, born 1-3-09), Coltrane Mittag (13, born 9-7-07), Smith Summerlin (14, born 6-11-07), Matvey Golovanov (14, born 2-4-07), Mykhailo Golod (14, born 9-19-06), Adam Anderson (14, born 8-12-06), Andre Zhu (14, born 8-5-06), Alex Long (14, born 7-25-06), Levi Keith (15, born 7-21-06), Jason Shwartz (15, born 6-16-06)

Average Age of Field: 16.91

U.S. States Represented (42): California (26), Florida (19), Texas (19), North Carolina (15), Georgia (13), Massachusetts (8), South Carolina (8), New York (7), Ohio (7), Maryland (6), Michigan (6), Oklahoma (6), Pennsylvania (6), Alabama (5), Arizona (5), Colorado (5), Illinois (5), Kentucky (5), Minnesota (5), Virginia (5), Oregon (4), Utah (4), Arkansas (3), Connecticut (3), Hawaii (3), Indiana (3), Tennessee (3), Washington (3), Iowa (2), Kansas (2), Missouri (2), Nebraska (2), New Jersey (2), West Virginia (2), Wisconsin (2), Idaho (1), Louisiana (1), Mississippi (1), Nevada (1), North Dakota (1), South Dakota (1) and Wyoming (1).

Countries Represented (23): United States (229), Canada (7), Mexico (5), Chile (2), France (2), Scotland (2), Venezuela (2), Argentina (1), Australia (1), Bulgaria (1), People’s Republic of China (1), Chinese Taipei (1), Costa Rica (1), England (1), Finland (1), Germany (1), Netherlands (1), Philippines (1), Portugal (1), Russia (1), Singapore (1), Ukraine (1) and United Arab Emirates (1).

USGA Champions (1): Kiko Francisco Coelho (2021 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball)

Players in Field with Most U.S. Junior Amateur Appearances (2021 included): Kelly Chinn (3), Jolo Timothy Magcalayo (3)

Played in 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur (8): Kelly Chinn, Dean Greyserman, Aidan Gutierrez, Jolo Timothy Magcalayo, Jay Nimmo, Luke Potter, Gordon Sargent, Jackson Van Paris

Played in 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur (5): Kelly Chinn, Luke Clanton, Jonathan Griz, Benjamin James, Jolo Timothy Magcalayo

Played in 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur (1): Scotty Kennon

Played in 2020 U.S. Amateur (9): Jonas Baumgartner, Kelly Chinn, David Ford, Maxwell Ford, Benjamin James, Luke Potter, Gordon Sargent, Jackson Van Paris, Alexander Yang

Played in 2019 U.S. Amateur (6): Jay Brooks, Luke Clanton, Nick Dunlap, Maxwell Ford, Conor Gough, Cohen Trolio

Played in 2021 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball (7): Kelly Chinn, Curtis Da Silva, David Ford, Maxwell Ford, Kiko Francisco Coelho, Carter Loflin, Luke Potter

Played in 2021 U.S. Open Final Qualifying (9): Kelly Chinn, Jake Griffin, Benjamin James, Weston Jones, Luke Potter, Tyler Sabo, Cohen Trolio, Connor Williams, Gene Zeigler

Played in 2019 Walker Cup (1): Conor Gough (GB&I)

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA.

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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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