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Local Favorite Van Paris reaches Round of 32 at U.S. Junior Am
Jackson Van Paris continued his U.S. Junior Am run on Wednesday (Chris Keane/USGA)
Jackson Van Paris continued his U.S. Junior Am run on Wednesday (Chris Keane/USGA)

The members at The Country Club of North Carolina will get a chance to see their favorite son for at least one more day. Jackson Van Paris, 17, who is getting a rare opportunity to compete in a USGA championship on his home course, opened match play on Wednesday in the 73rd U.S. Junior Amateur Championship with a comfortable 4-and-3 victory over fellow North Carolinian Spencer Turtz, of Charlotte.

Van Paris, an incoming freshman at Vanderbilt University, will join medalist Kelly Chinn – along with 14 of the other top-16-seeded players – in Thursday’s Round of 32. The next opponent for Van Paris will be incoming Georgia Tech freshman Benjamin Reuter, 18, of the Netherlands, at 7:12 a.m. ET.

Reuter, competing in his first USGA championship and fourth event ever in the U.S., played the equivalent of 4-under-par golf (with concessions) in ousting the youngest player to make the match-play field, Matvey Golovanov, 14, of the Russian Federation, 6 and 5.

With a gallery of some 30 friends and family, Van Paris jumped out to a quick lead, going 5 up after 10 holes, including three in a row from No. 8. Van Paris said the par-5 fifth, where he got up and down from the drop zone to go 2 up, was a critical hole in the match.

“That was one of the biggest moments for me in the match,” said Van Paris, the runner-up in the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst No. 2 earlier this month. “Spencer and I are good friends, so you just hate … playing your friend in the first round of match play. It's unfortunate. But we had fun.”

Van Paris finished before the mercury creeped into the 90s on a typical sultry summer day in the Sandhills. Despite the sticky temperatures and humidity, few of the top players had to sweat out their Round-of-64 matches.

Chinn, 18, of Great Falls, Va., had to wait until the last tee time (2:12 p.m.) before starting his contest against Brendan Valdes, 18, of Orlando, Fla., the last player to make the draw following Wednesday morning’s 13-for-10 playoff. But after a tight opening nine, the No. 39 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR® and incoming Duke University freshman cruised to a 3-and-2 win.

“I guess a little bit harder opponent than I would expect for the [Round of] 64, but at the same time, though, I've just got to play whoever I play,” said Chinn, who matched the 36-hole U.S. Junior Amateur stroke-play scoring record of 132. “We both played some really solid golf. I don't think we made a bogey on the front nine. I knew if I just continued to play my game … that eventually my lead would grow, which is what happened.”

No. 2 seed Andrew Goodman, 18, of Norman, Okla., headed to hometown University of Oklahoma this fall, won four holes in a row from No. 5 in his 5-and-4 victory over Rylan Wotherspoon, of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Both Ford twins, 18, from Peachtree Corners, Ga., also advanced. No. 4 seed David, a left-hander headed to the University of North Carolina next month, claimed five of six holes starting at No. 8 en route to a 5-and-4 win over Rylan Johnson, of Gilbert, Ariz. No. 7 seed Maxwell, a Georgia signee, built a 5-up lead through nine holes before settling for a 2-and-1 win over Connor Williams, of Escondido, Calif.

And No. 3 seed Nicholas Dunlap, 17, of Birmingham, Ala., a former Punt, Pass & Kick national finalist, eliminated Jack Turner, of Orlando, Fla., 3 and 2.

The lone upset among the top-16 seeds was Jonas Appel, 17, of Encinitas, Calif., taking out No. 11 Benjamin James, of Milford, Conn., 2 and 1.

One of the wildest matches of the day saw No. 5 seed Caleb Surratt, 17, of Indian Trail, N.C., last week’s winner of the PGA Junior Championship, overcome an early 3-down deficit to defeat Daniel Choi, of Keller, Texas, the son of eight-time PGA Tour winner K.J. Choi.

What’s Next

Two rounds of match play are on tap for Thursday, with the Round of 32 starting at 7 a.m. EDT and the Round of 16 scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Friday, with Peacock streaming live from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Golf Channel re-airing the broadcast from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The 36-hole championship match is Saturday.

Notable

Six players from North Carolina, led by Country Club of North Carolina member Jackson Van Paris, qualified for match play. The others were Spencer Turtz (Charlotte), Owen Kose (Holly Springs), Hampton Roberts (Cary), Caleb Surratt (Indian Trail) and Sihan Sandhu (Pinehurst). Van Paris and Roberts were the only victors. California led the way with 11 competitors, followed by Florida with nine.

Besides the USA, six other countries were represented in the match-play draw: the Russian Federation (Matvey Golovanov); the Netherlands (Benjamin Reuter), England (Conor Gough); France (Martin Couvra); Canada (Hunter Thomson) and the United Arab Emirates (Arjun Gupta).

A pair of players produced 7-and-5 victories. Rowan Sullivan, of Charleston, S.C., won eight of his last nine holes in his win over Andrew Clark, while Carson Brewer, of Jacksonville, Fla., didn’t lose a hole in his triumph over Cole Ekert.

The 13-for-10 playoff for the final match-play spots lasted four holes and 1 hour, 49 minutes.

Two of the 32 matches went extra holes, the longest being Gupta’s 20-hole win over Jackson Koivun. Luke Clanton, of Miami Lakes, Fla., edged Ben Sluzas in 19 holes.

Six members of the 82nd Airborne Division Paratroopers from nearby Fort Bragg served as caddies this week. One, specialist Zachary Wells, made match play only to see his player, Brady Siravo, lose to Cohen Trolio. The others who caddied are Jacob Kirkpatrick, Nathan Krupin, Tanner Nelson, Travis Bryant and Larry Lofley.

Round of 32 Matchups

Upper Bracket

7 a.m. - Kelly Chinn, Great Falls, Va. (132) vs. Luke Clanton, Miami Lakes, Fla. (144)
7:12 a.m. - Benjamin Reuter, Netherlands (141) vs. Jackson Van Paris, Pinehurst, N.C. (142)
7:24 a.m. - Gordon Sargent, Birmingham, Ala. (138) vs. Hampton Roberts, Cary, N.C. (145)
7:36 a.m. - Bryan Lee, Fairfax, Va. (138) vs. Carter Loflin, Duluth, Ga. (146)
7:48 a.m. - David Ford, Peachtree Corners, Ga. (136) vs. Conor Gough, England (144)
8 a.m. - Cohen Trolio, West Point, Miss. (141) vs. John Broderick, Wellesley, Mass. (143)
8:12 a.m. - Caleb Surratt, Indian Trail, N.C. (137) vs. Rowan Sullivan, Charleston, S.C. (145)
8:24 a.m. - Jonathan Griz, Hilton Head Island, S.C. (141) vs. Buck Brumlow, Cartersville, Ga. (146)

Lower Bracket

8:36 a.m. - Andrew Goodman, Norman, Okla. (135) vs. Gene Zeigler, Florence, S.C. (144)
8:48 a.m. - Luke Potter, Encinitas, Calif. (141) vs. Alexander Yang, Carlsbad, Calif. (142)
9 a.m. - Maxwell Ford, Peachtree Corners, Ga. (137) vs. Aaron Pounds, The Woodlands, Texas (143)
9:12 a.m. - Carson Brewer, Jacksonville, Fla. (140) vs. Joshua Stewart, Winter Springs, Fla. (143)
9:24 a.m. - Nicholas Dunlap, Huntsville, Ala. (136) vs. Hunter Thomson, Canada (145)
9:36 a.m. - Matthew Comegys, Van Alstyne, Texas (141) vs. Marshall Meisel, Chevy Chase, Md. (146)
9:48 a.m. - Rylan Shim, Centreville, Va. (137) vs. Arjun Gupta, United Arab Emirates (145) 10 a.m. - Jonas Appel, Encinitas, Calif. (146) vs. Robbie Higgins, Sarasota, Fla. (143)

Round of 32 winners advance to the Round of 16 of match play on Thursday, beginning at 1:15 p.m.

by David Shefter, 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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