Jackson Van Paris (Photo by John Patota)
by Alex Podlogar, Pinehurst
Legendary Pinehurst Hall of Fame caddie Willie McRae, who looped the fairways of Pinehurst No. 2 for more than 70 years, never missed an opportunity to remind those around him of the old caddie’s mantra, taught to him on his 10th birthday, by his father, in 1943.
“Show up. Keep up.
“And shut up.”
For Jackson Van Paris, two out of three ain’t bad.
Van Paris marched his way to medalist honors on Wednesday following the second round of the 123rd North & South Amateur, making three birdies to offset three bogeys on No. 2 to card an even par 70 and finish at 9 under, clearing ACC Champion David Ford and former North & South Junior Champion Jonathan Griz by two shots.
“It’s a huge confidence boost,” Van Paris said of being the medalist. “Obviously, after stroke play, it doesn’t really matter if you shoot 9 under or if you’re in a playoff at even. It all resets. But, for me, it’s confidence, and knowing I’m doing all the right stuff.”
It was a fairly stress-free round on No. 2 for the Vanderbilt junior and Pinehurst resident, who again enjoyed his common small crowd of friends and family following his round. He made his first bogey of the championship on the fourth hole, but followed with birdies at the fifth and sixth holes to quickly get back on track. His lead, built in Tuesday’s first round with a course-record 61 on Pinehurst No. 4, was never truly threatened.
“You go into the day, and you don’t assume you are in match play, but when you play a great round like yesterday it does make the day easier,” Van Paris said. “It was one of those days where I felt like if I just got to the first tee, I’d be OK.”
He showed up. He kept his score up.
Did he shut up?
“It’s nice to see friends, maybe occasionally make a comment walking down the fairway,” he said. “It definitely was a very relaxed round. … Not having a stressful day is huge.”
His opponent in the first round of matches on Thursday morning probably wouldn’t say the same thing. Australia’s Jye Pickin shot 1-under 69 on No. 4 to move to even for the championship, and eventually into a playoff for one of the last seeds. Ultimately, nine players were playing for eight spots, but after bogeys on the first and second playoff holes, Pickin made a par on No. 2’s 18th to wrap up the final spot, outlasting North Carolina’s Peter Fountain. Pickin, as the 32nd seed, will face Van Paris at 7 a.m. in the first match of the Round of 32.
Ford, the No. 2 seed, will tee off a little over an hour later. After a 3-under 67 on No. 2 on Tuesday, Ford followed with a 4-under 66 on No. 4 to move up the leaderboard. Ford has saved par or better from off the greens 10 of 11 times over the two rounds, taking a sturdy short game around Pinehurst in style.
“The course just fits me really well,” Ford said. “I played No. 2 better last year than I played No. 4, and it’s similar this year. No. 2 definitely fits me better than No. 4 because it’s hard, and you definitely have to control the ball well. And when you do miss one, it doesn’t really kill you because you can get some good breaks in the native area. Everything about this place fits me really well.”
Griz, who won the North & South Junior two years ago, reached match play at the North & South last year and was a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Junior at CCNC, continues to vibe well with Pinehurst. Despite a rough start – he was 3 over through four holes on No. 4 – he quickly turned things around by playing the final 13 holes in 6 under, including birdies on three of the last four holes.
“I really struggled to start. I got off to a terrible start,” Griz said. “I had bad tee shots on 1 and 2, and a terrible shot on the par-3, No. 4. After that I was talking to my caddie and he said all I could do was do my best and put my trust in the Lord. I was able to say ‘Hallelujah’ by the end.”
The day featured a wild rise and staggering crash for last year’s finalists. Defending champion Luke Clanton appeared lost for match play, opening with two bogeys on the first three holes of No. 4 to fall three shots below the cut line. He was still treading water to start the back nine, but birdied 12, 13, 14 and 17 to finish in 31, shoot 67 and find himself at 1-under 139 – a full, comfortable shot inside the cut line.
Tommy Morrison, though, won’t be around for match play after playing the final three holes of No. 4 in 6 over to fall to 3 over for the championship and well outside of the playoff.
The Round of 32 will be played on Thursday morning, with Round of 16 and quarterfinal matches scheduled for Friday. The semifinals and championship matches are scheduled for Saturday. All matches will be played on No. 2. Spectators are welcome.
So, show up. Keep up. And applaud appropriately.
ABOUT THE North & South Amateur
The North & South Amateur Championship is the
longest consecutively run amateur tournament in
United States. Its past winners list includes names
Travis, Francis Ouimet, Billy Joe Patton, Jack
and Curtis Strange. The field is made up of invited
players as well as open applications. Two rounds of
play are followed by five rounds of match play
qualifiers) to determine the Champion. All stroke
& match play rounds are contested on
Pinehurst No. 2.
View Complete Tournament Information