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Chinn's First-Round 64 Sets Pace at U.S. Junior Amateur
Kelly Chinn was dialed in on the greens Monday at CCNC's Dogwood Course, carding a bogey-free 8-under 64. (Chris Keane/USGA)
Kelly Chinn was dialed in on the greens Monday at CCNC's Dogwood Course, carding a bogey-free 8-under 64. (Chris Keane/USGA)

Kelly Chinn has a chance to join some elite company, including one of the greatest to ever play the game. Chinn, 18, of Great Falls, Va., who is headed to Duke University next month, carded a bogey-free, 8-under-par 64 on The Country Club of North Carolina’s Dogwood Course in Monday’s first round of stroke play of the 73rd U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.

Chinn, the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur medalist, can join three-time champion Tiger Woods (1991-93), 1977 winner Willie Wood and 2010 champ Jim Liu as a multiple medalist. He’d love to join them as a champion as well. In his two previous starts, he was eliminated in the Round of 32 (2018) at Baltusrol Golf Club and in the semifinals (2019) at Inverness Club. The championship was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.

His 64 on the 7,140-yard layout surpassed the competitive course record by Karl Vilips (a 65 in the 2017 Southern Amateur) and tied for the third-lowest round in U.S. Junior Amateur history behind Gavin Hall’s 62 in 2010 and the 63 posted by Brandon Mancheno in 2017.

“Honestly today was about going out and playing some golf,” said Chinn, who was a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball medalist with partner David Ford in May at Chambers Bay, where they lost in the quarterfinals. “I am not really focused on being medalist or anything. I have learned that in match play it doesn’t matter what seed you are. You just have to get into match play. The higher you go the lower seed you play and the more comfortable you will be and there’s less pressure.”

On Tuesday, Chinn will play the 7,164-yard, par-71 Cardinal Course, where Ford posted the best score in Round 1, a 4-under 67. After an early bogey on No. 12, his second hole of the day (players started on Nos. 1 and 11 on Cardinal), Ford, a lefty headed to the University of North Carolina, played 5-under golf over the last 16 holes.

Both the Dogwood and Cardinal courses at CCNC are being used in stroke play with the U.S. Junior Amateur field expanding for the first time from 156 to 264 competitors. The Dogwood will be used for all match-play rounds.

While the players didn’t have to deal with sweltering temperatures, both the morning and afternoon waves dealt with weather suspensions totaling 100 minutes due to heavy rain.

Accustomed to playing in all types of conditions, Chinn played a virtually stress-free round, buoyed by a new 5-wood in his bag. A 5-foot par putt on No. 10 was the closest Chinn came to making a bogey. He hit 5-wood second shots into the par-5 12th and 18th holes, converting a 40-footer for eagle on the former and a two-putt birdie on the latter.

“I feel comfortable in this situation,” said Chinn when asked about his USGA experience. “It’s been huge.”

A pair of 16-year-olds – Nathan Sampson, of Temecula, Calif., a finalist in the 2016 Drive, Chip & Putt at Augusta National, and Rylan Shim, of Centreville, Va. – registered bogey-free 67s on Dogwood. Shim, coming off a tie for 14th in last week’s PGA Junior Championship in Lexington, Ky., played his final nine holes (Dogwood’s outward nine) in 4-under 32, including three consecutive birdies to finish. He rolled in putts of 30 feet (No. 7), 50 feet (No. 8) and 20 feet (No. 9).

Nicholas Dunlap, 17, of Huntsville, Ala., a former national Punt, Pass & Kick finalist, had a bogey-free 68 on Dogwood that included an eagle 3 on the 18th hole.

What’s Next

Players will switch courses for the second round of stroke play on Tuesday, with the low 64 scorers qualifying for match play, which begins on Wednesday on Dogwood. Should a playoff be necessary to determine the final match-play spots, it would take place on Wednesday morning on Cardinal.

Notables

Jackson Van Paris, the local favorite and Country Club of North Carolina member, opened with an even-par 72 on the Dogwood Course. Van Paris was the runner-up two weeks ago in the North & South Amateur at nearby Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2.

Davis Wotnosky, 12, of Wake Forest, N.C., who is the second-youngest competitor in U.S. Junior Amateur history, carded a 74 on the Dogwood Course. His sister, Haeley, a University of Virginia golfer, is on his bag.

Three sons of major professional tour winners are in the field: John Daly II (John Daly); Daniel Choi (K.J. Choi) and Kevin Watts (Brian Watts). Choi shot 71 on Cardinal, Watts a 79 on Cardinal and Daly II a 73 on Dogwood. Brian Watts never won on the PGA Tour, but claimed 12 Japan Golf Tour victories. Daly is a two-time major champion and Choi owns eight PGA Tour wins, including the 2011 Players Championship.

Conor Gough, of England, the only competitor who has played in a Walker Cup (2019 for Great Britain & Ireland), opened with a 2-under 70 on Dogwood.

Kiko Francisco Coelho, of Portugal, the only USGA champion in the field, had a disappointing 81 on Dogwood. Coelho, who is headed to Arizona State in the fall, teamed with Eduardo Herrera to win the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Chambers Bay in May to garner exemptions into the U.S. Junior and U.S. Amateur.

Justin Ross, of Boca Raton, Fla., withdrew after Round 1 with a back injury.

The Cardinal Course (76.3) played slightly more difficult in Round 1 than Dogwood (75.9).

By David Shefter, USGA

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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