Reigning NCAA Champion Annie Park came into the 111th North & South Women’s Amateur off one of the best debut seasons in the history of collegiate golf, so it wasn’t surprising she continued her incredible play, cruising to a 5-under 67 to take two-shot lead following the first round of the historic amateur tournament on Tuesday.
But, of course, that was to be expected. After all, Park won four times in her freshman season while also leading Southern Cal to the team NCAA Championship.
So, no, the 67 and the lead were not surprising in the least.
The surprises came when Park commented on her round.
“Honestly, I don’t really know how I did it,” Park said after dicing up the 6,422-yard, par-72 Pinehurst No. 4 with an eagle, four birdies and a bogey. “I struggled.”
That’s hard to believe – until you look at all Park has accomplished in golf over the last few months.
The 18-year-old from Levittown, N.Y., had as dominant of a debut as possible in collegiate golf as a freshman, leading top-ranked USC to its third NCAA team title while winning four individual events en route to 2013 WGCA and Pac-12 Player and Freshman of the Year honors.
(*NOTE: It’s loaded EVERY year. SEVEN of the last 10 champions are on the LPGA Tour, including Yani Tseng, who beat Morgan Pressel (the 2004 champion) in 2005 before going on to win six LPGA majors – and counting. Even just last season, Moriya Jutanugarn advanced into match play before running into Ernst. All Mo has done since? Won the LPGA qualifying tournament and so far has banked more than $203,000 in her rookie season. So, yeah, maybe you’ll want to come out and watch this week.)
The tournament begins on Tuesday with three rounds of stroke play on Pinehurst No. 4. The championship then shifts to Donald Ross’s famed Pinehurst No. 2, the host of back-to-back U.S. Opens in 2014, as the Top 16 players vie for the championship in match play.
Here’s a look at just a few of the contenders in this year’s championship:
Will Grimmer, 16, of Cincinnati, came into the North & South Junior Championship having won the Ohio Junior Amateur in late June.
On July 10, 2013, he made history at Pinehurst.
Grimmer made 1 bogey – and 10 birdies and an eagle – to fire the only known recorded 59 at Pinehurst, hitting golf’s magic number on the par-70, 6,089-yard Pinehurst No. 1 during the second round of the 35th North and South Junior Championship.
He opened his day with a pedestrian 1 under through five holes, but caught fire from there, finishing his front 9 with three birdies and an eagle on the par-4 17th, holing a pitch from 90 yards.
Grimmer proceeded to shoot 29 on the front side – his back 9 after starting on 10 – sinking a 20-foot downhill putt to record the 59, the new course record at Pinehurst No. 1.
Unbelievably, Grimmer isn’t even leading the tournament. He’s currently third after a 3-over 74 in the first round of Pinehurst No. 6. He trails Gastonia’s Will Blalock by two strokes. The tournament concludes on Pinehurst No. 5 on Thursday.
Here are a few links to mainstream media stories about Grimmer’s special round:
Gastonia’s Will Blalock wins the 35th North & South Junior Boys Championship.
WILL BLALOCK WINS 35TH NORTH & SOUTH JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
Pinehurst’s Mr. 59, Will Grimmer, fires final-round 71 to finish 4th
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Will Blalock wasn’t about to be threatened by playing in the final group as Will Grimmer, who a day earlier had set a Pinehurst record with a 59 on Pinehurst No. 1.
No, not Will Blalock. Not the Gastonia native whose former teacher, Mike Taylor, won the fourth North & South Junior Championship in 1982.
No, not Will Blalock. Not the N.C. State recruit who finished second in the 2011 North & South Junior, and who came back with an 11th-place finish last year.
No, not Will Blalock. Not the 17-year-old who on Thursday capped his North & South Junior career without – get this – ever shooting a round over par in the prestigious junior championship. Eight rounds, all par or better.
And so it seems fitting that Will Blalock, even with a player throwing a 59 at him, would find some way to not only win the 35th North & South Junior Championship, but do it with a three-day total of 15-under-par 198, four shots better than runner-up Cole Berman, five shots better than defending champion Kendrick Vinar – and six shots better than Grimmer, who turned the golf world upside down Wednesday when news spread of his 59.
“I’m the guy who beat the guy who shot 59,” Blalock said, clutching the iconic Putter Boy trophy to his chest. “Will played great – I mean, he shot 59 – but he still wasn’t leading, and he never had the lead. It is kind of funny.”
Blalock, who did not have a 3-putt all week and had just two bogeys total for the week, opened his championship with an 8-under 63 on Pinehurst No. 6, a round consisting of eight birdies and 10 pars. He made his two bogeys on No. 1 on Wednesday – the course Grimmer shot 59 — but still managed a 2-under 68, taking a two-shot lead into the final round. He led Grimmer by three through 36 holes as the tournament shifted to Pinehurst No. 5.
And while Grimmer was swept through a whirlwind of media attention over the next 24 hours, the 16-year-old from Cincinnati still managed to card a 1-under 71 to finish at 9-under 204. He was no match for Blalock, who closed with a 5-under 67 for the remarkable three-day total.
“I didn’t think about (the 59),” Blalock said. “I was just playing my own game.”
So, too, was Grimmer – as best he could.
“You know, I didn’t shoot 78 or 76,” he said. “I came back with a round under par on a tight golf course with tough pins at Pinehurst. I played really well and don’t feel like I really made a lot of mistakes. Will just played phenomenally.”
Still, it was a day Grimmer will never forget.
“I’ve never gotten more texts, e-mails and Facebook messages in my life,” he quipped. “And then I click on The Golf Channel (Wednesday) night and I see the interview I did with (Pinehurst Resort). I couldn’t believe that. I was like, “Oh my gosh. That’s me on TV.’
“It’s still cool to have gotten the attention of shooting 59. No one can ever take that away from me.”
Concord’s Anna Redding wins the 35th North & South Junior Girls Championship.
Concord’s Anna Redding, 16, won the 35th North & South Junior Girls Championship, finishing as the lone player under par with a 1-under 212 following a third-round 73 on Pinehurst No. 1.
“This is the best win I’ve ever had,” she said. “It’s amazing. I still can’t believe it right now.”
Kayla Katterhenry and Rei Nakatani were second with 1-over 214.
“And then I saw Jack Nicklaus’ locker and I thought, ‘I want to be in here.’”
Now he is.
The Coastal Carolina junior – the 16th seed in match play – held off a furious charge by Zachary Bauchou to clip the teen phenom 1-up to claim the 113th North and South Amateur Championship on Pinehurst No. 2, the host of the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open.
“With all the history in Pinehurst, to finish on the 18th hole with everything that’s gone down there – Payne Stewart making the putt, all the names on the wall of champions – to have my name in there forever, to be considered on the same level with something like those guys, is unbelievable. It’s unreal,” an emotionally spent Dorn said, clutching the iconic Putter Boy trophy to his chest.
Andrew Dorn is the 2013 North & South Amateur Champion.
The North & South Amateur is the longest consecutive-running amateur golf championship in the United States, now in its 113th year.
Over the past century, the best in the golf world have vied for its coveted Putter Boy Trophy. The winners now serve as legends in the game – Francis Ouimet, Billy Joe Patton, Nicklaus, Curtis Strange, Corey Pavin, Davis Love II, among others. It continues to draw the best in amateur golf circles.
Dorn controlled much of the match against the 17-year-old Bauchou, one of the elite junior golfers in the world, making a slick 6-foot par putt on the par-3 15th to hold a 3-up lead as the pair stepped to the 16th tee.
The match appeared all but over as Bauchou’s approach on the 511-yard, par-4 16th sailed left of the green. But instead of rolling into the greenside bunker, Bauchou could hardly believe his eyes as the ball came to rest against the rake.
“I looked through my range finder and said, “’I think that’s a ball,” he said.
After a ruling, Bauchou was able to play the ball from where it came to rest and hammered the 20-foot putt home, pumping his first, to extend the match at least one more hole.
Then with the pin tucked in the perilous right corner of the 17th green, Bauchou stuck his tee shot to 7 feet, making that putt – punctuated by another fist pump – to push the match to the 18th.
“At that point I was like, ‘Ok, let’s go,’” said Bauchou.
A flustered Dorn then hooked his drive on 18 left of the cart path while Bauchou crushed his tee shot down the right side of the fairway. But while Dorn punched out and through the fairway into the brush lining the right side, Bauchou’s approach sailed long and left. Dorn failed to get his pitch up and down for par, but Bauchou’s putt from off the left side of the green rolled 18 feet past the cup. He missed the par putt, finally ceding the championship to Dorn.
“I thought I was going to get him on 18,” said Bauchou, who is ranked as the No. 2 amateur in the high school Class of 2015. “But I just didn’t get up and down.”
For Dorn, who played 20 holes in each of his match play matches on Friday, who needed a playoff Thursday evening just to get into match play, who was down two holes with three to play in one of his matches Friday, the winning moment actually crept up on him.
“At first, nothing special happened,” he said. “But then you look around and it’s Pinehurst No. 2, Payne is looking over your shoulder, and it sets in. I’m just at a loss for words.”
Dorn won his semifinal match over 13th-seed and Duke recruit Max Greyserman with relative ease, 5 & 4 while Bauchou knocked off sixth-seeded Grayson Murray 1 up in the morning round of matches.
Dorn never trailed in the final match, taking a 1-up lead when Bauchou three-putted the treacherous fifth green.
Bauchou, though, squared the matched when Dorn bogeyed the seventh, but the West Chester, Ohio, native came back with a 25-foot birdie on the 8th to regain the lead.
Dorn, who hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation – Bauchou managed to hit just eight in regulation – began to build his lead in the middle of the round, going 2-up on 9 before a Bauchou three-putt from about 80 feet handed Dorn his largest lead, 3-up, through 11.
Bauchou closed within two holes again until Dorn stuck his approach just 6 feet from the pin on 14, leading to a birdie and what looked like an insurmountable 3-up lead with four to play.
Bauchou’s late-round attempt at heroics made things interesting, but Dorn never wavered.
“I tried to keep it out of my mind,” Dorn said,” but I couldn’t help thinking, ‘Wow, I’m going to win this.’”
ROUND OF 16
No. 16 Andrew Dorn defeats No. 1 Adam Schenk, 20 holes
No. 9 Mickey Moyers defeats No. 8 Richard Fountain, 2&1
No. 13 Max Greyserman defeats No. 4 Jade Scott, 2&1
No. 12 Seth Reeves defeats No. 5 Ben Griffin, 2&1
No. 15 Zachary Bauchou defeats No. 2 Adam Wood, 3&2
No. 10 Andrew Bailey defeats No. 7 Michael McGowan, 2&1
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Grayson Murray is on his third college in as many semesters.
He may have found a home at Pinehurst.
With the tournament’s top five seeds failing to advance even past the Round of 16 matches on Friday, the UNC Greensboro transfer emerged as the potential player to beat at the 113th North and South Amateur on Donald Ross’ famed Pinehurst No. 2, cruising through two matches with relative ease to reach the tournament’s semifinals.
Murray, who left Wake Forest after his first semester for East Carolina only to find it wasn’t the best fit for him either, will have to sit out a season before he can compete in NCAA Division-1 play again.