U.S. Junior Amateur ready to tee off at Country Club of North Carolina
PINEHURST N.C. (WBTV) - The next big star of golf could have his grand introduction right here in North Carolina in a couple of weeks.
The U.S. Junior Amateur will tee off at the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst on July 19th and will wrap up on the 24th.
Charlotte resident Webb Simpson will serve as the honorary chairman and knows the significant of this event first hand.
For some of these juniors, this will be their first real brush with big time media and big time crowds.
While Simpson never won the junior am, competing in it set him on a course to winning the US Open in 2012 because he went through the pressure cooker that is the U.S. Junior Amateur.
“You learn to compete and you learn how to deal with the nerves,” said Simpson. “You learn how to deal with people watching you. In a big event, you can have 2 or 3 college coaches following your group. I think all of those things that take time and experience to grow in really helps as a junior player especially in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.”
This championship is open to any male amateur who has not reached the age of 19 by July 24th. The best of the best in junior golf and this championship has been a jump off point for some great careers.
Tiger Woods won this tournament 3 straight years from 1991 to 1993. It was the start to a professional career that has seen him win 15 major titles.
Jordan Spieth won the championship in 2009 and 2011. So far in his career in the PGA, he has 3 major titles.
And now, recent winners are starting to show up on the scene in a big way on the PGA Tour.
Will Zalatoris won the junior am back in 2014 and this past April, he finished 2nd at the Masters. He followed that up with an 8th place finish at the PGA Championship.
“There will be a junior crowned here in a couple of weeks that will set his career off right here at the Country Club of North Carolina,” said Hal Sutton who won the 1980 U.S. Amateur at CCNC. That was the base of his career that saw him win 14 times on the PGA Tour including a victory in the 1983 PGA Championship.
This won’t be an easy championship to win as the 264 competitors will have to get through stroke play on the Cardinal Course at CCNC on July 19th and 20th. Those who qualify for match play will compete on the Dogwood Course July 21st-24th. And a warning from the pros who are familiar with both courses, don’t get too comfortable.
“The moment you feel like you have an approach that is a walk in the park or a green light flag, I think that’s where Dogwood will come up and bite you with firm fast runoff areas into deep rough,” said Simpson. “I would tell the guys that this is still a championship golf course with Bermuda greens that can get really fast. I think they might think birdies will win in match play, but I think plenty of matches will see par win. It’s not a go out and attack all day-- you have to be careful. Middle of the green on Cardinal will take you a long way.”
Among the 264 player field, 21 are from either North Carolina or South Carolina so the next big star may just come from Carolinas.
Copyright 2021 WBTV. All rights reserved.