Pinehurst Golf News Archive

Meet the Contenders for the 113th Women’s North & South Amateur

Alison Lee, N&S 2014 Championship (2) (991x1280)

Alison Lee won the 2014 Women’s North & South Amateur and just a year later, is the front-runner for the LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

By Alex Podlogar        

PAIRINGS

SCORES

Nine of the last 12.

Think about that for a second.

Nine of the last 12.

75 percent.

Nine of the last 12 North & South Women’s Amateur champions have drawn paychecks as members of the LPGA Tour. The equation is near perfect. Win the North & South Am, go on to professional success at the highest level.

After that championship lineage took a minor break a couple of years ago to allow Ally McDonald to put the finishing touches on an All-American collegiate career at Mississippi State, the link between the North & South and the LPGA Tour was back in lockstep in 2014.

Just weeks after the U.S. Women’s Open wrapped on Pinehurst No. 2, the top collegiate player in the country, UCLA freshman Alison Lee edged Lori Beth Adams over 19 holes to win the 112th Women’s North & South Amateur. A couple of months after that, Lee, the inaugural winner of the Annika Award, named after Annika Sorenstam for the top college player of the year, turned pro after winning LPGA Tour Qualifying School. And in May, Lee nearly won for the first time on the LPGA Tour when she finished third at the Kingsmill Championship. She’s already won nearly $300,000 on Tour this season.

The 113th Women’s North & South Amateur returns to Pinehurst No. 2 for all five days, with three rounds of stroke play beginning on Monday. The top 16 seeds from stroke play will advance to match play, and the championship will be decided on July 17.

One last note: nine former North & South Women’s Amateur champions are competing in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open this week. North & South champions are among the legends of the game: Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Peggy Kirk Bell, Hollis Stacey, Brandie Burton, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng.

So, who might win the 113th edition of the prestigious event? Here’s a look at the top contenders. (A note: As deep as this field is, it would surprise no one if the eventual champion is someone who is not on this initial list – just like Ally McDonald in 2013.) … Continue Reading

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Paxton, Parsells win 37th Junior North & South Amateurs at Pinehurst

Easton Paxton (853x1280)

Easton Paxton wins the 37th Junior Boys North & South Amateur. (Photo by Thomas Toohey Brown)

By Alex Podlogar

Boys’ Scores

Girls’ Scores

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – You won’t find Easton Paxton near the top of any junior golf rankings. After all, for 6 months out of the year, he doesn’t touch a golf club.

Part of that has to do with his hometown being in Riverton, Wyoming. But, put more simply, Paxton would rather play basketball in the winter anyway.

It sure isn’t hurting his golf game.

Paxton shot a 6-under-par 208 over three rounds at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, including a solid 2-over 72 in the final round on famed Pinehurst No. 2, to win the 37th Junior Boys’ North & South Amateur Championship on Wednesday.

“It’s really special,” said Paxton. “I’ve come close in some big events like this a lot, but I’ve never been able to get it done all the way.

“I played solid all week, but I really started to feel it at the end. I didn’t finish as strong as I’d like to, but I learned a lot about myself. I’m just very blessed to be here.”

Paxton’s ranking has less to do with his golf game and more with the few events he’s played thus far this season. The 16-year-old has turned heads before, though, including former PGA Tour veteran David Ogrin, whom Paxton beat by five shots after a 66 in a U.S. Open local qualifier in 2014.

“I don’t know if I saw the next Tiger Woods,” Ogrin told Golf Digest’s Ron Sirak last summer, “but I think I saw the next Jordan Spieth.”

Paxton was brilliant for much of the North & South, opening the tournament with a pair of 4-under 68s on Pinehurst No. 8 and Pinehurst No. 5, respectively, to build a four-shot lead entering the final round.

For a while, Paxton continued that eye-opening play on Donald Ross’s crown jewel, playing the front 9 of the course that hosted the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open in 2 under.

But Paxton – admittedly, he would add – began to get tight near the end of the round. Bogeys on 15 and 17 sandwiched a double bogey, and he needed a clean 18th hole to hold onto the championship.

“I wasn’t nervous on 18; by then I decided to just trust my swing and myself,” Paxton said. “But before that? Yes, I was nervous.”

Paxton won by two shots over Atkinson, North Carolina’s Blake Taylor (70-69-71-210) and by three over Daniel Wetterich (69-70-72-211), of Cincinnati.

Christina Parsells (853x1280)

Christina Parsells wins the 37th Junior Girls’ North & South Amateur at Pinehurst. (Photo by Thomas Toohey Brown)

Georgetown-bound Christina Parsells won the 37th Junior Girls’ North & South Amateur, but not before it seemed like she had given it away.

Parsells, who led by a single stroke entering the final round on Pinehurst No. 5, made a double bogey on the par-5 17th just moments after Dominique Galloway made her fifth birdie of the day on the same hole.

But while Parsells managed to make a clean par on the 18th hole, Galloway made her own double bogey, and the two-shot swing enabled Parsells to hold the coveted Putter Boy trophy.

“This is pretty special,” Parsells said of the victory. “It’s amazing to think about all the great names who have won here.”

Parsells, of Bernardsville, New Jersey, finished at 3-over 219 with her best playing coming on the front 9 of Pinehurst No. 2 in the opening round on Monday. Parsells had five birdies between 3 and 9 and made the turn in 3 under. An even par back 9 gave her a 3-under 69 on the famed course.

Galloway, of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, started the day five strokes back in a tie for fifth. Her 3-under 69 fell one shot short on Pinehurst No. 5.

Both Paxton and Parsells will be honored at Pinehurst by having their names emblazoned in bronze on the Perpetual Wall in the Resort Clubhouse.

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Sean Walsh wins the 115th North & South Amateur

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Sean Walsh stands with the coveted Putter Boy trophy after winning the 115th North & South Amateur Championship on Pinehurst No. 2. (Photo by Sarah Campbell)

Walsh defeats medalist and top seed George Cunningham 3 & 1 on Pinehurst No. 2

Match Play Bracket

By Alex Podlogar

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – If you only followed the top half of the North & South field last year, you likely missed Sean Walsh. And he wouldn’t blame you.

“Oh, we made a trip last year,” Walsh said of his first appearance in the North & South. “We didn’t really play golf. I don’t know what that was called.”

A pair of 76s meant Walsh’s trip from the Pacific Northwest was a short one; the Gonzaga golfer didn’t even make the 36-hole cut.

But, even in his first, albeit brief, visit to Pinehurst, Walsh learned something – something very valuable when it comes to golf at Pinehurst.

“It was a lot thinking you could hit a shot like…Say, you have a back-left pin,” Walsh explained. “I learned my lesson very quickly as far as when I came back: if you have a back-left pin, you don’t hit it at the back-left pin.

Walsh took that advice to heart throughout the week on Donald Ross’ legendary Pinehurst No. 2, playing a masterful round of golf to beat George Cunningham 3 & 1 to win the 115th North & South Amateur Championship on Friday afternoon. … Continue Reading

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Top-seeded Cunningham fights his way to North & South semifinal

Cunningham 2

George Cunningham looks over a putt on Pinehurst No. 2 during the quarterfinals of the 115th North & South Amateur. (Photo by Sarah Campbell)

No. 2 seed Clark Engle cruises while third-seeded Ben Griffin suffers tough loss

Match Play Bracket

By Alex Podlogar

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Nobody had a tougher day over two matches than George Cunningham.

Unless you count Henry Do.

Cunningham, the top seed after stroke play in the 115th North & South Amateur, needed all 18 holes in both of his matches on Pinehurst No. 2 on Thursday, edging both 16th seed Andrew Novak and upstart Chun an Yu 1-up to advance to Friday’s semifinals.

“I definitely had to work for it,” said Cunningham, the only player Thursday to play the 18th twice.

While his match with Novak was up and down, Cunningham never trailed, but never wrestled away control until a birdie on the 17th hole. A matching par on 18 was enough to close out Novak, who had survived a four-hole, six-man playoff late Wednesday to earn the final match play seed in the championship.

The afternoon round against Yu was a different story. Cunningham trailed three times, only to come back with birdies on 7, 9 and 11 to square the match. Finally, with a birdie on 14, Cunningham took the lead on the reigning Western Junior champion, but still had to answer the 16-year-old bomber, making a 7-footer for birdie to halve the 16th before holing a slick downhill 4-footer on 17 for par to stay 1-up. … Continue Reading

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Novak survives wild playoff to make North & South Amateur match play

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Andrew Novak putts during the third round of the 115th North & South Amateur on Pinehurst No. 2. Novak survived a wild playoff to advance as the final seed into the tournament’s match play. (Photo by Sarah Campbell)

Arizona’s George Cunningham takes top seed after winning medalist honors on Pinehurst No. 2

SCORES

MATCH PLAY BRACKET

By Alex Podlogar

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Andrew Novak didn’t mind knowing he had to make the putt for birdie on 18 to stay out of a playoff. Of course, he didn’t really have a choice, either.

“Oh, I was informed,” he said sardonically. “My lovely mother had told me.”

As if the day wasn’t rough enough, Novak, who had begun the final stroke play round of the 115th North & South Amateur on Pinehurst No. 2 alone in third place, had tumbled all the way down the leaderboard into a tie with five others for 16th.

The math of the moment, though, was simple. Make the birdie from about 12 feet in the shadow of Payne Stewart’s statue and advance to match play as the final seed. Miss, and that meant signing for an 8-over 78 and God knows what.

Novak missed.

“I knew if I made it, I was probably safe,” said Novak, who plays at Wofford. “And if I missed, that I’d probably be in a playoff. Of course, I didn’t know it was going to be that kind of playoff.” … Continue Reading

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