Rounds 1 and 2: Five Groups to Watch July 12, 2017 By David Shefter, USGA

Floridian Eugene Hong has advanced to the semifinals in the last two U.S. Junior Amateurs. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

U.S. Junior Amateur Home

The 70th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship will be the third USGA competition conducted at Flint Hills National Golf Club in Andover, Kan., following the 2001 U.S. Women’s Amateur (won by Meredith Duncan) and the 2007 U.S. Senior Amateur (won by Stan Lee). The 156 competitors will play 18 holes of stroke play on July 17 and 18 holes of stroke play on July 18 on the 7,049-yard, par-71 layout that was designed by Tom Fazio. The low 64 scorers will advance to match play, beginning on July 19.

Here are five groups to watch (All times CDT):

Min Woo Lee, Chris Nido, Otto Voettiner (Monday, No. 1, 7:33 a.m.; Tuesday, No. 10, 1:03 p.m.)

Lee, who turns 19 five days after the championship concludes, is looking to become the third player in U.S. Junior Amateur history to win multiple titles, joining Tiger Woods (1991-1993) and Jordan Spieth (2009, 2011), both of whom have gone on to win the U.S. Open. Lee, of Australia, joined his older sister and LPGA Tour winner Minjee Lee as the only siblings to win USGA Junior titles – Minjee won the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 2012. Last fall, Lee was the runner-up in the Australian Amateur and he recently lost a playoff to Sahith Theegala in the Sahalee Players Championship at Sahalee Country Club in suburban Seattle. Nido, 18, of Miami, Fla., is competing in his third U.S. Junior Amateur and lost to Lee in last year’s championship at The Honors Course, 2 and 1, in the Round of 64.

Noah Goodwin, Frankie Capan, Cooper Parks (Monday, No. 1, 7:22 a.m.; Tuesday, No. 10, 12:52 p.m.)

Goodwin, 17, of Corinth, Texas, fell one win short of the title last year when he lost to Min Woo Lee, 2 and 1. It has been 34 years since a player won the Junior Amateur a year after losing in the title match (Tim Straub). Capan, 17, of North Oaks, Minn., has already claimed one USGA championship title in 2017, winning the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in May with partner Shuai Ming Wong, who is also competing in the Junior Amateur.

Cole Hammer, Turk Pettit, Ricky Castillo (Monday, No. 10, 12:30 p.m.; Tuesday, No. 1, 7 a.m.)

Hammer, 17, of Houston, Texas, became a national sensation in 2015 when he became the third-youngest qualifier in U.S. Open history. After reaching the Round of 16 last year at The Honors Course, Hammer had elbow surgery in the fall. He has since finished runner-up in the Azalea Invitational, third in the Jones Cup Invitational and T-10 in the Northeast Amateur. Castillo, 16, of Yorba Linda, Calif., was the youngest competitor in the 2015 U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club. Pettit, 18, of Auburn, Ala., quarterbacked his high school football team (Lee-Scott Academy) to the state title in 2016 and 2017. The incoming Clemson freshman also won the Alabama state golf title in 2016.

Eugene Hong, Gunnar Knutson, Jed Baranczyk (Monday, No. 1, 12:52 p.m.; Tuesday, No. 10, 7:22 a.m.)

Hong, 17, of Orlando, Fla., has advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur the past two years, losing to eventual champion Min Woo Lee, 1 down, in 2016 at The Honors Course. USA Today selected Hong as its 2017 Boys Golfer of the Year. He also was the first alternate from the Tequesta, Fla., U.S. Open sectional qualifying site in June. Knutson, 16, of Mead, Wash., and Baranczyk, 17, of Green Bay, Wis., are both competing in their first USGA championship.

James Song, Wells Padgett, Max Ting (Monday, No. 1, 7:44 a.m.; Tuesday, No. 10, 1:14 p.m.)

This will be the third U.S. Junior Amateur for Padgett, 18, of Wichita, Kan., but the first time he’s competed in a USGA championship in his hometown. The recent Maize High graduate won the 2016 Kansas 5A state title and he tied for third in this summer’s Kansas Stroke Play Championship. He will attend Auburn University in the fall. Song, 16, of Canada, is a rising senior at Torrey Pines High School in the San Diego area. He and Kaiwen Liu, also in this year’s Junior Amateur field, led Torrey Pines to the 2016 California Interscholastic Federation team title in 2016 and a third-place finish in 2017. Ting, 17, of Atherton, Calif., is playing in his first USGA championship.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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