U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
For Mouw, Success is All Comes in a Day’s Work
July 18, 2018 | Springfield, N.J.
By Stuart Hall
William Mouw’s strategy for this week’s U.S. Junior Amateur Championship is simple in nature.
“I told my caddie, the goal is to take one shot at a time, and not focus on what’s in front of us, but rather what we’re on right now,” he said. “If we take it one shot at a time, then we should do what we want.”
In theory, that is a smart approach.
But Mouw arrived at Baltusrol Golf Club with bad mojo. He missed the cut in last week’s IMG Academy Junior World Championship on Torrey Pines’ South Course in La Jolla, Calif. The MC was his first non-top-20 finish in a World Amateur Golf RankingTM event in nearly a year — a stretch of seven starts.
Mouw, currently No. 64 in the WAGR, was spraying the ball and his putter was misfiring. That sub-par play continued through much of stroke play at this 71st championship. Mouw, 17, of Chino, Calif., managed to qualify with a 2-over-par 143 total.
“So I worked on the range more than I ever worked on a range in my life before,” he said.
On Wednesday, muscle memory kicked in as Mouw eased past Rayhan Thomas, of India, 6 and 5.
“He played solid and didn’t do much wrong,” Thomas said. “He holed tons of putts, but was never out of position. His misses were very small and his putting was great. If he keeps playing like this, I don’t think he will have too much trouble.”
Playing in his first USGA championship, Mouw is not in awe of, or even intimidated by, the stage. That’s because a couple of wins – the 2015 IMG Academy Junior World Championship (13-14 age division) and last year’s Western Junior Championship – opened his eyes.
“When I won the Junior World, I kind of realized ‘Oh, this might be something I want to do,’” he said. “Then I won the Western Junior and that gave me the confidence to know that my game is just as good as some of the great players out here.”
Mouw’s win was the most convincing of the 32 in the Round of 64, but today brings new work, which he is accustomed to.
Many a morning, Mouw and his brother begin their day by collecting eggs from the nearly 35,000 chickens that are part of Billy’s Egg Farm, the family business located on 4 acres in Chino. Just a couple of weeks ago, Mouw could not practice for a few days because Southern California temperatures were pushing 115 degrees and he needed to continually spray down the chickens to avoid the risk of them dying.
“Not required work, but it’s our family business, so we all help out,” said Mouw, a senior at Ontario Christian High who will attend Pepperdine University in fall 2019. “What growing up on a farm has taught me is work ethic. Work hard and you can succeed in what you want. So I took that out to the golf course.”
When he can’t get to the course, Mouw takes the ethic out behind the chicken barn where, from between 190 and 280 yards, he attempts to clear the barn’s red top with iron shots.
Or Mouw will head over to Newport Beach with friends to do some body surfing or boogie boarding – and also hone his bunker play by hitting shots from beach lies.
While he exudes a laidback beach mentality on and off the course, he has no shortage of confidence, either. “You have to have a little swag going on,” he joked.
“I watched the Junior Am and the Amateur last year and thought, ‘Man, that would be nice to get there,’” said Mouw, who went 2-1 as a member of last year’s victorious Junior Presidents Cup Team. “Luckily, I am blessed enough to get through to the Round of 32 and in a couple of weeks I will be playing at Pebble Beach [in the U.S. Amateur].”
Whether Mouw continues to swagger through the match-play bracket is unknown, but it appears that his “A game” has reappeared at a very good time.
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA digital channels.