Medalist Karl Vilips also advances to the Round of 16
By Alex Podlogar
It’s easy to tell twins David and Maxwell Ford apart.
One is often wearing Carolina blue, the other Georgia red. One is left-handed, the other plays from the right side. One has a former Girls’ North & South Junior Champion caddying for him, the other is carrying his bag and wondering why his dad isn’t working again today.
But their golf? There, it gets a bit harder. At least it did in the Round of 32 at the 122nd North & South Amateur on Thursday.
Both Fords got off to hot starts in their early morning matches, and while both had to hang on to some degree before finishing off their respective opponents, each found himself removing his cap and shaking his foe’s hand on the 17th green of Pinehurst No. 2. David Ford, a rising star sophomore at North Carolina, clipped reigning U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Champion Chad Wilfong 2&1 and Maxwell Ford, also, obviously, a rising sophomore, but an emerging star at Georgia, defeated Oregon’s Owen Avrit by the same result.
The Fords could face each other in the semifinals of the North & South on Saturday morning. It would be the first time in their lives they would play a match against each other.
“We’ve never played in match play in a tournament, that’s for sure,” Maxwell Ford said. “We’ve got a long way to get there, but that would be really cool.”
“It’s totally different in match play, but as long as it doesn’t use any energy for me to think about him, it’s fine to let my mind wander to where his match is at or check the leaderboard,” David Ford said. “I definitely want him to win and I want to see him in the semifinals. I want him to go as far as he can, and I’ll be watching him. I’m sure he’ll be doing the same.”
Maxwell was already doing just that on Thursday. Playing two groups behind his brother, Maxwell was walking down the 16th fairway – on his way to what was essentially a match-sealing birdie – and watched as David halved the 17th to win.
“I try not to think about what he’s doing, but as I was walking up 16 I saw him close out his match,” Maxwell said. “So, yeah, I’m pulling for him, and I’m sure he’s pulling for me. It’s cool to have both of us in it.”
David Ford was fortunate his match ended in view of Maxwell. Ford, who led 4-up through just nine holes, had missed – and misread – his 6-footer for par that could’ve opened the door for Wilfong to extend the match to 18. But Wilfong’s own attempt from about the same distance violently lipped out.
Perhaps had David listened to his caddie, 2020 North & South Junior Champion and University of Virginia golfer Amanda Sambach, he could’ve closed the match out in more conventional fashion.
“It’s definitely fun to have Amanda on the bag,” David said. “I think we go about golf differently, and she’s been amazing at reading greens. She read the last putt on 17 correctly – and I didn’t. I don’t know how that thing went left.”
Maxwell, on the other hand, has been on his own on the greens, in the fairways and everywhere else, carrying his own bag. Patrick, the twins’ dad – they are actually triplets with their sister Abigail – had been caddying for Maxwell in other events this summer leading up to the North & South.
“It worked pretty well,” Maxwell said of his dad caddying for him, “but he had to work the last two days. I didn’t know for sure if he had to work today, but apparently he was out here the whole time. I didn’t really know that. But I’m OK carrying my bag.”
Also still OK is top-seeded Karl Vilips, who took medalist honors largely on the strength of good starts to each of his stroke play rounds. His game wasn’t in tip-top shape throughout the match Thursday, but the start was still good, taking a 3-up lead on Leo Oyo through eight holes. Vilips, who hit just four fairways and immediately went to Maniac Hill to work on his driver following his 3&2 victory, used his vast experience on No. 2 to manage his way around Donald Ross’s masterpiece.
“For sure, I know where all the bad putts are, where all the bad misses are,” Vilips said. “For example, 16 today, the pin was way on the left, and I knew back-left was going to be fine, putting up the hill. Course knowledge is a huge advantage, and I have probably the most of it out here, definitely.”
Jackson Koivun, who set a new course record with his 7-under 63 on Pinehurst No. 4 on Wednesday, continued his torrid play, never trailing in his 2-up win over Boyd Owens. His future college teammate, Auburn’s Evan Vo, stayed hot as well, beating Luke Dossey 6&4, while Caleb Surratt recovered from being 3-down to ACC Champion Peter Fountain, only to storm back and prevail 2&1.
Local favorite Jackson Van Paris never got on track in the Round of 32, falling to Evans Lewis 4&3.
The North & South Amateur continues with the Round of 16 and quarterfinals on Friday, with the semifinals and finals to be played on Saturday. The championship match is scheduled to begin at 12:45 p.m. on Pinehurst No. 2.
122nd North & South Amateur
Pinehurst No. 2
Round of 32
June 30, 2022
No. 1 Karl Vilips d. No. 32 Leo Oyo, 3&2
No. 16 Luke Clanton d. No. 17 Sam Jean, 4&3
No. 8 David Ford d. No. 25 Chad Wilfong, 2&1
No. 9 Evan Vo d. No. 24 Luke Dossey, 6&4.
No. 4 Maxwell Ford d. No. 29 Owen Avrit, 2&1
No. 13 Ben Woodruff d. No. 20 Boyd Owens, 4&2
No. 5 Jackson Koivun d. No. 28 Nick Robillard, 2&1
No. 21 Nick Lyerly d. No. 12 Xavier Marcoux, 2&1
No. 2 Ross Steelman d. No. 31 Joshua Bai, 2&1
No. 15 Ben James d. No. 18 Caleb VonArragon, 1up
No. 7 Caleb Surratt d. No. 26 Peter Fountain, 2&1
No. 10 Thomas Morrison d. No. 23 Jayden Ford, 4&3
No. 30 Maxwell Moldovan d. No. 3 Frankie Capan, 3&2
No. 14 Ian Siebers d. No. 10 Jonathan Griz, 21 holes
No. 6 Davis Bryant d. No. 27 Dongjin Park, 3&1
No. 11 Evans Lewis d. No. 22 Jackson Van Paris, 4&3
Round of 16
July 1, 2022
No. 1 Karl Vilips vs. No. 16 Luke Clanton, 7 a.m.
No. 8 David Ford vs. No. 9 Evan Vo, 7:08 a.m.
No. 4 Maxwell Ford vs. No. 13 Ben Woodruff, 7:16 a.m.
No. 5 Jackson Koivun vs. No. 21 Nick Lyerly, 7:24 a.m.
No. 2 Ross Steelman vs. No. 15 Ben James, 7:32 a.m.
No. 7 Caleb Surrat vs. No. 10 Thomas Morrison, 7:40 a.m.
No. 30 Maxwell Moldovan vs. No. 14 Ian Siebers, 7:48 a.m.
No. 6 Davis Bryan vs. No. 11 Evans Lewis, 7:56 a.m.
July 1, 2022
Matches begin at 12:45 p.m.
July 2, 2022
July 2, 2022
TBD, 12:45 p.m.
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