By Alex Podlogar
As a teammate and friend, Jackson Bode was always going to be in the galleries that followed high school teammate Jackson Van Paris during his stirring run in the 121st North& South Amateur last week.
Little did he know that it would help his game so much.
While Australian Louis Dobbelaar may have ultimately triumphed over Van Paris in 19 holes on Sunday, Bode kept the 2021 North & South season a decidedly hometown affair by becoming the second Pinehurst golfer to make his own deep run in a championship. But this time, Bode emerged victorious, firing a 2-under 70 on Wednesday on Pinehurst No. 8 to finish at 6-under 208 to win the 43rd Boys’ North & South Junior.
“I really can’t put this into words,” said Bode, 17, a rising senior at nearby Pinecrest High School.
“With Jackson playing so well in the Am last week, albeit on a bigger stage, it’s kind of nice knowing that I might have a few bragging rights there,” he joked.
He does have the bigger – in size – trophy now. Bode entered the final round of the three-day tournament two shots back of Pennsylvania’s Nicholas Gross. But he opened the day with birdies on the first and second holes, and capped the championship with two terrific birdies on 15 and 17, making a 50-footer on the par-3 15th before reaching the par-5 17th in two shots for a comfortable birdie. It was enough to clip Gross, who shot a 1-over 73, by one shot.
Much like Van Paris’ run, Bode was able to feed off big shots in big moments, like his eagle on the 10th hole of No. 2 on Tuesday. Bode said following Van Paris’ exploits felt like they carried over for him this week.
“I think always watching great golf can make you play better,” Bode said. “When you see that happen in front of you in a big tournament, you can definitely find some inspiration in that.”
Make no mistake, though, Bode did this on his own. Bode’s been a highly regarded player on the dominant Pinecrest teams, which won the state 4-A championship again in 2021. Bode shared the lead after 4-under 68 in the first round, then followed with a steady even par 70 on No. 2. His quick start on Wednesday announced early on that he would be a contender in the closing holes.
“This is definitely the biggest highlight for me,” Bode said. “I had been playing pretty solidly this summer and I’d been feeling pretty good about my game, but to finally win – and to win here in this event – is definitely a big moment for me.”
Canadian Brooke Rivers holds the Putter Boy trophy after winning the 43rd Girls’ North & South Junior. (Photo by John Patota)
As Brooke Rivers stood clutching her own Putter Boy trophy while standing next to the real thing, the moment was not lost on the 16-year-old from Ontario.
“This feels great. Pinehurst is such an amazing place with so many incredible courses that it is such an honor to be able to win,” Rivers said. “Pinehurst is a place that has been around for so long, and this is a tournament that’s been around for a long, long time, it just feels great to win it.”
Rivers led by three shots entering the final round on Pinehurst No. 6, but immediately kept control of the tournament, making birdies at the first and third holes to hold on to her lead, beating second-place Raya Nakao, of Hawaii, by three shots.
“It was nice to try to keep my head on straight and stick to my game,” Rivers said. “The early birdies right out of the gate kind of set the tone early, and from there it was just to try to stay steady, keep the ball in play and not do anything too drastic.”
Jackson Bode and Brooke Rivers (Photo by John Patota)
With their victories, Bode and Rivers earn automatic berths into the North & South Amateur and Women’s North & South Amateur, respectively, in 2022.