Jackson Van Paris (Back of the Range/EAGS photo)
by Mike Dudurich, for AmateurGolf.com
The pins might be tucked in the most evil places on the greens, which are rolling just this side of the speed limit.
The rough at Sunnehanna Country Club is a crap shoot, good lies can be gotten on wayward tee shots, but can also leave a player stymied. And, of course, there are the stories that make up the history of the course and the Sunnehanna Amateur.
Thursday morning, a pair of youngsters grabbed some early attention. Maxwell Ford and Lewis Riley, went crazy on the scoreboard, posting a pair of 63s to get cozy with the lead.
And just when the idea of a 63 being shot started settle, boom! Out of nowhere -- actually Pinehurst, N.C. -- came a young man named Jackson Van Paris, who put up a, gulp, 61.
Believe it or not, Van Paris’ round is neither the course or tournament record.
That distinction belongs to Zachary Bauchou, who posted a 60 in the 2017 Sunnehanna Amateur
As previously noted, the famed club did not blow up as play continued, but it did give the rest of the field notice that birdies were out there to be had. They weren’t being given away, however, they had to be earned.
Van Paris’ Thursday round was even more remarkable because he opened with a 71 on Wednesday.
“I knew there was 54 holes left,” he said. “I just tried to take one hole at a time, one step at a time, staying in the moment.”
His moments Thursday were consumed by making birdies. He made nine, count ‘em, nine with no bogeys.
“It was a special day, no doubt,” Van Paris said. “I’ve been told about the great rounds and great scores that have taken place here. I’m honored to be included in that group.”
Van Paris has been playing high-level golf since a young age. He is a four-time Rolex Junior All-American, who, at age 14, became the youngest player to win a match at the U.S. Amateur since Bobby Jones in 1916.
As the second round ended, a real shootout is in play for Friday and Saturday.
Right behind Van Paris is Yuki Moriyama (68-65). Then came Ford and Riley.
Ford, a member of the University of Georgia golf team, had six birdies, an eagle and a single bogey on the way to his 63. Five of those birdies came during a back-9 30.
“Obviously I had really good back 9,” said Ford, who stood during the entirety of an interview because of a lingering bad back. “I hit my wedges close, made some putts and didn’t let the bad shots I hit into bother me.”
After that, it’s chaos.
Seven players are tied at 134, 6-under par.
Defending champion Bryce Lewis is in at 2-under par and is 8 shots out of the lead.
The Friday forecast is not favorable for much outdoor activity, including golf. Showers and thunderstorms have an 80 percent chance of dominating the day. The first group is scheduled to be off the first tee at 7 a.m.
ABOUT THE Sunnehanna Amateur
The Sunnehanna Amateur was inaugurated in
1954 -- it was the first country club
sponsored 72-hole stroke play competition for
in the United States. The
tournament is played on a classic A.W.
design. Only one other amateur
tournament in the United States can list the
Chick Evans, Arnold Palmer, Julius
Boros, Art Wall, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson,
Woods, and Rickie Fowler as
contestants: the United States Amateur. Its
format has been emulated by
countless amateur tournaments across the
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