Pinehurst Tournaments Archive

 Martin makes history at Pinehurst, wins record 3rd Donald Ross Junior

Donald Ross Jr Winner Josh Martin 2014

Pinehurst native Josh Martin won the Donald Ross Junior Championship for the third time in four years Monday, becoming the first player in the 67-year history of the event to do so.

FINAL RESULTS

Walter Hagen. Sam Snead. Ben Hogan.

Each won three championships at Pinehurst.

So, too, after a birdie in the dark, has Josh Martin.

One of the top junior golfers in the nation, the Pinehurst native won the Donald Ross Junior Championship for the third time in four years Monday, becoming the first player in the 67-year history of the event to do so. Martin also won the tournament in 2011 and 2012, and nearly captured a third title in 2013, but lost a playoff after the tournament was shortened due to rain.

Martin prevailed this time in the playoff, which lasted just one hole – the 1st on Pinehurst No. 4 – as darkness fell. Play was delayed by an hour to start the day after morning rain, but Martin snuck in his birdie to clip Stephen Cerbara, of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and Alex Smalley, of Wake Forest, North Carolina.

“I don’t get to play in the dark very often,” said a smiling Martin, clutching his third Putter Boy trophy.

Donald Ross Junior Josh Martin tees off 2014

Josh Martin tees off during the playoff round Monday as darkness begins to fall.

But he does win often. Martin because the youngest North Carolina Amateur champion in June, and then fired rounds of 69 and 68 on courses No. 5 and No. 4 to prevail at Pinehurst again, putting himself into elite company. Hagen, Snead and Hogan won the North & South Open on Pinehurst No. 2 three times each.

“It’s hard to really think about being mentioned in the same breath as those guys,” Martin said. “That’s pretty awesome.”

A.J. Beechler, also of Pinehurst, perhaps stole the show on Monday, though. A U.S. Kids world champion by age 11 a few years ago, Beechler added to his growing junior resume with a brilliant performance in winning the 12-to-14-year-old division of the Donald Ross Junior. Beechler shot 69 in the first round on Sunday and then came back with scintillating 7-under 63 on Pinehurst No. 1 on Monday to win by four shots over Joseph Pagdin, of Orlando, Florida.

Donald Ross Junior winner AJ Beechler 2014

A.J. Beechler of Pinehurst poses with his trophy after scoring a 63 on Pinehurst No. 1 during the final round of the tournament Monday.

“I actually thought it was a three-day tournament, so I guess that’s why I was pretty calm,” said Beechler, who had six birdies, an eagle and a bogey. “I knew the greens were going to be soft with all the rain, so I was just throwing them up a couple of feet short of the pins.”

Jackson Van Paris, of Lake Forest, Illinois, shot rounds of 71-74 for a total of 145 to win the 11-and-under division by one shot over Darren Choi, of Toronto.

IMG_1213

Jackson Van Paris of Lake Forest, Illinois clinched the 11-and-under division by one shot over Darren Choi of Toronto.

In Sunday’s first round, Brandon Whitley, of Huntersville, North Carolina, made a hole-in-one on the 9th hole of No. 1, using an 8 iron from 130 yards in the 12-to-14 division.

Here are a few photos from the final round of play Monday.

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Players share fond memories of the Donald Ross Junior Championship

Florence Lads

The Long and Short Of It: John Hemmer took this photo at the 1952 Donald Ross Junior Championship. It features one of the tallest players, 6-foot-3 Walter Lawson, walking alongside one of the smallest, 8-year-old Larry Orr.

More than 200 high school boys will flock to Pinehurst this weekend to compete in the annual Donald Ross Junior Championship.

The event gets underway Saturday with practice rounds. Tournament play kicks off Sunday and the final round takes place Monday.

In the story below, past players share fond memories of the championship.

By Lee Pace

They came from all points on the compass — from Philadelphia in the north by train, from Richmond by car down U.S. Hwy. 1, from Florence to the south by bus.

Sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s Day every year since 1948 is the Donald Ross Junior Championship, a competition created to honor the memory of the famed architect of four of the original courses at Pinehurst. The tournament gives youngsters a chance to compete at the American mecca of golf.

“We understood what an honor it was to play at Pinehurst.” -Walter Lawson, played in the 1952 championship

“It was a fun trip, a golf pro and a bunch of 13-year-old kids hauling it along those two-lane roads,” says Lanny Wadkins, remembering his travels from Richmond. “It was some trip. We stayed at The Holly Inn, and I’m not sure it’s ever been the same since. Those are my earliest memories of Pinehurst. It was quite a place for a kid.”

David Eger came from Charlotte regularly as a teen and won the 1969 Ross Championship at the age of 17, and years later competed on No. 2 as a tour pro and then won the 1991 and 2000 North and South Amateurs after regaining his amateur status.

“I’ve always loved this place since I was a kid coming from Charlotte,” Eger says. “If you grow up in the Carolinas and play golf, Pinehurst is it.”

Jay Sigel would play college golf at Wake Forest, forge one of the top amateur resumes through the 1970s and ‘80s and then launch a blockbuster career on the Champions Tour in the 1990s.

Pinehurst was one of the places where he learned to take his “game on the road.” He was 15 in 1958 and rode the train from his home in Philadelphia two days after Christmas and landed in a tie for first place in the Ross Memorial.

“I made seven or eight birdies but only shot even-par,” Sigel says. “Four of us tied, and it got dark at four o’clock. There wasn’t any time for a playoff. So they cut cards. I picked the wrong card.”

And look at the faces on the boys from this 1952 photo of a group just having arrived from Florence for the Ross Championship. They are excited, maybe a little nervous. Many have never been so far from their home. Some carry only four or five clubs in tiny canvas bags. A couple have played only one round of golf before. Another is accomplished and confident enough that his name is embroidered on his bag.

Kids-Bus

A group of players arrive from Florence to compete in the 1952 Donald Ross Junior Championship.

“The Ross Memorial was a very prestigious tournament,” says Walter Lawson, second from the right among the two tall boys in the back row. “We were told about the Tufts family, about Donald Ross, that Pinehurst was the heart of American golf. You’d be surprised how much we knew about Pinehurst. We understood what an honor it was to play at Pinehurst.”

The tall gentleman on the back row, his head popping up between the words “DEE” and “COACH” on the bus, was the instigator and engineer of the annual excursion from Florence Country Club. His name was Grant Bennett, and to golfers in Florence in the mid-20th century, he was a father figure, mentor, babysitter and golf guru. His wife, Rozellen, is standing to Bennett’s left.

“Grant was a pied piper,” says John Orr, who was 12 years old at the time and standing third from the right on the front row. “We played golf seven days a week. When I started playing, my family was not a member. But he said, ‘Son, come on and play. I want junior golfers out here.’

“I saw more of him growing up than I did my parents. Grant put raising kids above making a living. He sacrificed his own family for everyone else’s family. He and Rozellen just loved the kids. Not only did he build golfers, he molded character.”

Jack Lewis, Randy Glover, Gordon “Buddy” Baker, Billy Womack and Kathy Hite were among the many talented young golfers to come out of Florence during the Bennett era. Bennett knew that the only way to groom competitive golfers was to have them compete, so the Pinehurst event was not only a fun outing for the juniors but a goal to practice toward and a chance to see how they could play out of town.

“I’ve always loved this place since I was a kid coming from Charlotte. If you grow up in the Carolinas and play golf, Pinehurst is it.” -David Eger, 1969 champion 

“One of the requirements Grant set down was that no one could go to Pinehurst if they hadn’t played a full 18-hole round,” says Larry Orr, John’s brother standing sixth from the left on the front row. “So I played my first 18-hole round shortly before the tournament so I could go. I don’t remember the score, but I’m not sure that I broke 200.”

That Pinehurst photographer John Hemmer was ready with his camera when the bus from Florence arrived at the club was no coincidence.

“Grant arranged that,” John Orr says. “He was a P.R. man, too.”

Hemmer also took a photograph of one of the tallest boys in the group, the 6-foot-3 Lawson, walking alongside one of the smallest, the 8-year-old Larry Orr. He distributed it through Pinehurst’s publicity network with the caption, “The Long and Short Of It.”

“I heard from people as far away as Chicago after the photo hit the wires,” Lawson says.

Bennett died in 2005 and was a member of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame and South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame. The Orr brothers both still live in Florence, as does Lawson. Baker lives in Pinehurst and is a member of the Country Club of North Carolina.

“I try to go up to Pinehurst twice a year,” says John Orr, a regular entrant in the North and South Senior Amateur. “It’s a place to die for.”

Lee Pace is a regular contributor to the Pinehurst Blog. He latest book, “The Golden Age of Pinehurst—The Rebirth of No. 2,” is available in all retail shops at Pinehurst.

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Lee the latest Women’s North & South Amateur champion to join LPGA

Ready for the next chapter in my life

A photo posted by Alison Lee (@lee_alison) on

Alison Lee joined an elite group of golfers when she won the 112th Women’s North & South Amateur earlier this year.
The tournament, which has been held in Pinehurst since its inception, has seen nine of the past 12 champions go on to join the LPGA tour.
Lee became the 10th Sunday, handily earning her spot on the 2015 Tour during the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. She posted five consecutive rounds of even-par or better (71-70-67-70-72) during the event held in Daytona Beach, Florida.

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

Alison Lee poses with her trophy following the Women’s North & South Amateur earlier this year.

The reigning Pac-12 Conference Champion will leave UCLA to turn pro. During her time with the Bruins, Lee set a single season scoring record of 71 and became the first player in school history to win the GolfStat Cup, collegiate golf’s scoring title.
Lee has played in three U.S. Women’s Opens, making the cut for the first time at the age of 14. She made the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur last year.
Earlier this year, Lee won the inaugural Annika Award, which is given to the top women’s college golfer in the country.
Here’s a look at some of the recent Women’s North and South Amateur winners who later joined the LPGA tour:

2003 — Brittany Lang

2004 – Morgan Pressel

Pressel has raised more than $3.4 million for breast cancer research through her annual Morgan Pressel and Friends Pro-Am Golf Tournament. She lost her mother, Kathy Krickstein Pressel, to the disease in 2003.

2005 — Yani Tseng

Five major championships, and 15 LPGA Tour wins. Not bad…

2006 — Jenny Suh

2007 — Alison Walshe

2009 — Amelia Lewis

2010 — Cydney Clanton

Clanton had the best finish of her pro career in September, tying for seventh place at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic.

2011 – Danielle Kang

In October, Kang made her second hole-in-one in eight days. The aces came with two shiny new cars, an Audi A6 T2.0 and a Buick Lacrosse.

2012 – Austin Ernst

Ernst won her first LPGA title in September, capturing the Portland Classic in sudden death over I.K. Kim.

2014 – Alison Lee

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We asked kids: What’s your favorite thing about playing golf with your parents?

We asked kids one simple question: What’s your favorite thing about playing golf with your mom or dad?

The answers, it turns out, weren’t always as simple as the question.

Update: To all the great kids and their families who helped us with this, y’all might be interested in who’s seen it:

GraemeUSK1

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Welcome back, U.S. Kids

_us_kids2014

Pinehurst is proud to welcome back U.S. Kids Golf for two weeks of world championship play!

 

There is nothing better than seeing kids experience the joy of our game:

 

Or to hear the myriad languages experience the world of Pinehurst:

 

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