Local player Jackson Van Paris scraps his way through opening match at U.S. Junior

The U.S. Junior marks two weeks out of the last four that Jackson Van Paris has entered a major tournament as the local favorite.

Local player Jackson Van Paris scraps his way through opening match at U.S. Junior

Fifteen players in the starting U.S. Junior field hail from North Carolina, but only one man calls this week’s host site, the Country Club of North Carolina, his home course. That puts a target on Pinehurst native Jackson Van Paris’s back, if not for his peers then at least for fans – especially local ones.

This marks two weeks out of the last four being the local hero. Over the Fourth of July weekend, Van Paris played his way into the final match at the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst (thanks in large part to a dramatic semifinal victory) before finishing runner-up to Australian Louis Dobbelaar.

Van Paris won the last AJGA Invitational he played in February, the Simplify Boys Championship at Carlton Woods, but this is likely to be the last real hurrah. That story would write itself.

Van Paris hit the first tee shot off the first tee at CCNC’s Dogwood Course on Monday morning to start the championship. He had rounds of 72-70 (the 70 on CCNC’s Cardinal Course) to land the No. 17 seed on the bracket. On Thursday, Van Paris took out another of the Carolina guys – Spencer Turtz – in 15 holes to start match play. Now there are only three remaining.


“The course was playing tough,” Van Paris said of a day he made only three birdies. “Neither Spencer nor I played our best. But it was just a grind. It’s one of those matches that neither of us played the way we wanted to, but you’ve just kind of got to grind it out. I got fortunate, I made a few really important putts for par and kind of kept momentum on my side for the most part, which was great, and then ended up making some birdies coming in, which was nice.”

Van Paris noted it was “weird” playing someone from North Carolina. You never want to meet a friend so early in the bracket, he said, but he may keep running into that problem. The 18-year-old has to get past Dutch buzzsaw Benjamin Reuter, who is playing his first USGA championship, in the next round and assuming that good friend Kelly Chinn makes it through another round, too, at the top of the bracket, the two would meet in the Round of 16.

“I mean, if you want to win the event you’ve got to beat them all anyways, so that’s kind of the way I look at it,” van Paris said. “So yeah, I don’t look at it any differently than even if I was playing a bunch of guys I’ve never heard of. I wouldn’t look at it any differently. You’ve just got to go out and try to play your game and play a little better than the guy you’re playing against.”

Van Paris got his edge over Turtz in the Round of 64 when he won three consecutive holes at Nos. 8-10. It was the little things that kept him in the match – like on the par-3 third when Van Paris got up-and-down from a drop zone for bogey and Turtz three-putted from 40 feet. They tied that hole.

“Stuff like that kind of needs to happen if you want to win matches when both guys are playing very well,” he said. “It was by no means a birdie fest out there.

“It’s really nice when you know you’re kind of grinding and you can kind of steal a few.”

Spoken like a guy with a little local knowledge on his side.

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Rickie Fowler on the status of his game heading into 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities: 'I know I'm close'

“It feels like it's obviously always heading the right way in where we've been going. But I know I'm close, it's just not all coming (...)

Rickie Fowler on the status of his game heading into 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities: 'I know I'm close'

BLAINE, Minn. – Rickie Fowler knows he’s going to get to where he wants to be.

“It feels like it’s obviously always heading the right way in where we’ve been going. But I know I’m close, it’s just not all coming together just yet,” Fowler said Wednesday about his continued efforts to polish his swing after a major overhaul. “If you talk to other players or anyone that’s kind of been through some sort of ups and downs, it’s how golf goes, it’s how life goes.

“Sometimes it’s one putt, one swing. It’s been nice over the last few months to finally at least see some more consistency or at least heading in the right direction. So, I’m happy about where we are, but we still have a little way to go to be where we want to be.”

This week, Fowler is making his debut in the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities. His latest confirmation that the swing changes will work out came last Sunday in the final round of the British Open at Royal St. George’s, where he carded a 65. Despite finishing in a tie for 53rd, Fowler said his final momentum from the two days in Sandwich, England, can carry over across the pond.

“Definitely. Got some work in both days. I drove it poorly Friday and Saturday, hit it nice, a very simple round of golf on Sunday,” he said. “I missed one green and it could have been lower, but 5 under is a solid score around there. Feeling good going into this week. Cleaned a few things up; taking a lot from how I played on Sunday and try to go out here and just try and wear out as many fairways and greens as we can.”

Fowler’s struggles certainly wore on him, but he never flinched and abandoned the pursuit. He has gone 50 starts since winning his fifth PGA Tour title in the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open. In one stretch, he went 29 starts without a top 10, missed 13 cuts and fell to 128th in the official world rankings, his worst standing since early 2010.

He was encouraged when he tied for eighth in the PGA Championship and then tied for 11th in the Memorial in his next start. But he’s missed the cut in the Travelers, tied for 32nd in the Rocket Mortgage Classic and tied for 53rd in the Open since the Memorial.

Still, he’s no longer thinking swing when he’s between the gallery ropes. Instead, he’s just playing golf.

“Right now, I feel like iron play’s been better. I feel like that’s been heading the right direction,” he said. “Putting as of the last few months has definitely been heading the right way. That was a big part of why I played well at Kiawah (in the PGA) and played decent at Memorial. I think driving the ball can always get better; that sets up everything from hitting fairways and getting yourself opportunities to be aggressive versus playing from the rough, which I did a lot of that on Friday and Saturday at St. George’s.”

This will be Fowler’s third start in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. He lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Richie Ramsay in the 2006 U.S. Amateur at Hazeltine and played very well as the U.S. thumped Europe in the 2016 Ryder Cup, also at Hazeltine.

As for TPC Twin Cities, Fowler played 18 on Tuesday and 9 on Wednesday. Course conditions are supreme and with the hot weather rolling in – temps in the 90s the final three days – the golf ball will fly, and scores will be low.

“Got to make some birdies this week,” he said. “It is gas pedal is on the right, just go out and make birdies.”

Source : Golf Week More   

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