Sunnehanna Amateur champ Jackson Van Paris (Back of the Range photo)
By Mike Dudurich for AmateurGolf.com
Jackson Van Paris took care of business in Pennsylvania, winning the Sunnehanna Amateur, the first event in the Elite Amateur Golf Series.
But for a moment, the most fleeting of moments, his heart stopped. He watched very intently as the golf ball of Neal Shipley rolled across a ridge on the 18th green toward the cup at Sunnehanna Country Club Sunday afternoon.
“I’ll admit. That one scared me,” VanParis admitted after the ball missed the cup, opening the door for a VanParis win.
He and Shipley put on a heck of a show in the final round of the 82nd Sunnehanna Amateur at Westmont, Pa. and it ended up with VanParis at 13-under and Shipley at 12-under.
From Van Paris’ point of view, the show was an award-winner from the moment that putt slid by the cup, giving Van Paris the biggest win of his career.
“It was a grind, to say the least,” he said. “He played great at the Dogwood a couple of weeks ago and never really gave me room to breathe. But more importantly to me, he was just an all-around nice guy all day. When you get that kind of matchup, it makes it nice for everybody, and you actually root for him to win. We were rooting for each other out there.”
Van Paris had quite an individual day on the way to shooting 67. He made three bogeys, two birdies and a pair of hole-outs for eagles.
“On the one at six, I can tell you I had no intention of trying to get at the hole,” he said. “It was 124 yards to carry the bunker in front and that’s exactly how far I hit it. Obviously, a shot like that gets you on the right track.”
But his place on the right track wasn’t verified until he was able finally fend off the pressure from Shipley.
“Neal played great today. He really did. I anticipated he’d make that putt on the last hole because he knew that if he did, I’d have to make mine,” VanParis said.
In the end, he didn’t have to and solidified his personal memories of playing in Pennsylvania.
Shipley knew a quick start would go a long way toward how he’d play in the final round. After rounds of 68 in the first two rounds and posted a 68, he laid a 66 on the field in the third.
And then he came out smokin’ in the final round, making three birdies in five holes on the front nine for a 32. He cooled off on the back, added just two more birdies and came up just short of Van Paris.
Nearly 40 of the 60 players who made the cut in conditions that weren’t ideal Sunday with brisk winds circulating among the ridges in the area.
By Mike Dudurich for AmateurGolf.com
For the 22 days prior to the start of the 82nd Sunnehanna Amateur, rainfall at historic Sunnehanna Country Club was as scarce as holes-in-one mementos on my office wall.
The course was dry, but running fast. A dream set-up for the leadoff event in the Elite Amateur Series that runs throughout the summer and rewards top finishers with exemptions into select next-level events.
But rain has affected this championship throughout, including a storm that ended play at 5:11pm Thursday evening.
Jackson Van Paris
has a four-shot lead at 10 under par, coming off his record round of 61
in the second round. Van Paris is playing the seventh hole and leads a whopping 9 players who are at 6 under par.
There’s lots of golf to be played and by the time the final putt falls, the scoreboard might not look anything like it does now.
Players who have not finished their third rounds will resume play at 7 a.m., with the fourth round scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. The 60 players surviving the 54-hole cut will start the final round on the first and 10th tees in twosomes.
“We’re committed to a 72-hole championship and, after discussing various options, we think this is the best way to accomplish that,” said tournament co-chairman John Yerger. “It will be the best outcome for the players and the championship. The players traveled too far for them not to play 72 holes.”
Defending champion Bryce Lewis is obviously not having the kind of tournament he had last year; at even par for the tournament through 10 holes, he is on the very edge of contention.
“I’m certainly not playing great and if I’m going to put up a successful defense, I’m going to have to go out and be aggressive,” he said. “I haven’t played at all like I did last year.”
Van Paris was among those who hung around after the suspension of play was announced.
“This morning was definitely weird,” he said. “I woke up to a text saying tee times were pushed back two hours and then saw the forecast and it said showers here and there.
“I felt like I was playing good but I don’t view this as a negative,” Van Paris continued. “Everybody is playing the same golf course at the same time. I’m just glad that we are able to go out and finish round three and hopefully get four rounds in for the tournament. That’s what we all came here to do.”
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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