U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
72nd U.S. Junior Amateur: Inside the Field July 11, 2019 | Toledo, Ohio By Brian DePasquale, USGA

Californian James Song is set to compete in his fourth U.S. Junior Amateur. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

The 72nd U.S. Junior Amateur Championship is set to be contested at the historic Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. The field consists of 156 competitors who will play 36 holes of stroke play after which the field will be trimmed to the low 64 scorers for match play.. The 36-hole championship match is set for Saturday, July 20. The following is statistical and biographical information on the field:

Oldest Competitors: Oscar Maxfield (18, born 7-23-00), Christian Castillo (18, born 8-2-00), Mason Domecq (18, born 8-5-00), Ben Cooper (18, born 8-8-00), James Song (18, born 8-17-00), Jack Castiglia (18, born 8-18-00), Max Coutsolioutsos (18, born 8-29-00), William Mouw (18, born 9-5-00), Holden Wisener (18, born 9-6-00), Austin Greaser (18, born 9-9-00), Josh Bartels (18, born 9-11-00)

Youngest Competitors: Aidan Gutierrez (13, born 3-14-06), Leonardo Vieira (14, born 12-29-04), Luca Cimoroni (14, born 10-22-04), Thomas Morrison (14, born 8-11-04), Gaven Lane (15, born 6-16-04), Jeevan Sihota (15, born 3-23-04), Sam Renner (15, born 2-13-04), Luke Potter (15, born 2-4-04)

Average Age of Field: 17.08

U.S. States Represented – There are 38 states represented in the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur: California (15), Texas (11), Florida (9), North Carolina (7), Ohio (6), Georgia (5), Washington (5), Maryland (4), Tennessee (4), Virginia (4), Alabama (3), Arizona (3), Indiana (3), Kentucky (3), Massachusetts (3), Minnesota (3), New York (3), Pennsylvania (3), South Carolina (3), Colorado (2), Iowa (2), Louisiana (2), Michigan (2), New Jersey (2), Oregon (2), Utah (2), Arkansas (1), Hawaii (1), Idaho (1), Illinois (1), Kansas (1), Maine (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), Nevada (1), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (1) and Wisconsin (1).

International – There are 15 countries represented in the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur: United States (123), Canada (8), Australia (5), Japan (4), People’s Republic of China (3), Republic of Korea (3), England (2), Chinese Taipei (1), Republic of Ireland (1), Northern Ireland (1), the Philippines (1), Scotland (1), Switzerland (1), Thailand (1) and Venezuela (1).

USGA Champions (1): Michael Thorbjornsen (2018 Junior Amateur)

Players in Field with Most Junior Amateur Appearances (2019 included): James Song (4), Jake Beber-Frankel (3), Akshay Bhatia (3), Ricky Castillo (3), James Imai (3), Alvin Kwak (3), Yuki Moriyama (3), Joseph Pagdin (3), Thomas Ponder (3)

Played in 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur (26): Jake Beber-Frankel, Akshay Bhatia, John (Jack) Blair, Ricky Castillo, Kelly Chinn, Kyle Chung, Canon Claycomb, Nathan Han, James Imai, Palmer Jackson, Jolo Timothy Magcalayo, Clay Merchent, Yuki Moriyama, William Mouw, Joseph Pagdin, Thomas Ponder, Deven Ramachandran, Brett Roberts, Jenson Rogenes, James Song, Dillon Stewart, Michael Thorbjornsen, Karl Vilips, Robin Williams, Kento Yamawaki, Seongyoung (Terry) Yoon

Played in 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur (9): Jake Beber-Frankel, Akshay Bhatia, Ricky Castillo, Alvin Kwak, Connery Meyer, Yuki Moriyama, Joseph Pagdin, Thomas Ponder, James Song

Played in 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur (7): Austin Barbin, Trey Fessler, Yuxin Lin, Garrett Martin, James Song, Alex Vogelsong, Jack Wall

Played in 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur (2): James Imai, Alvin Kwak

Played in 2019 U.S. Open (1): Michael Thorbjornsen

Played in 2018 U.S. Amateur (13): Jake Beber-Frankel, Akshay Bhatia, Michael Brennan, James Imai, Palmer Jackson, Gaven Lane, William Mouw, Ian Siebers, James Song, Preston Summerhays, Michael Thorbjornsen, Jackson Van Paris, Alex Vogelsong

Played in 2017 U.S. Amateur (4): Ricky Castillo, Canon Claycomb, Clay Merchent, Karl Vilips

Played in 2016 U.S. Amateur (2): James Song, Karl Vilips

Played in 2015 U.S. Amateur (1): Ricky Castillo

Played in 2019 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball (3): Michael Brennan, Jack Townsend, Jack Wall

Played in 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball (1): Akshay Bhatia

Played in 2019 U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying (12): Austin Barbin, Akshay Bhatia, Ricky Castillo, Canon Claycomb, George Duangmanee, Austin Greaser, Garrett Martin, Drew Miller, Maxwell Moldovan, Drew Salyers, Karl Vilips, Jack Wall

PLAYER NOTES:

Jake Beber-Frankel, 17, of Miami, Fla., is competing in his third consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur. Beber-Frankel, who advanced to the Round of 16 in 2017 and the Round of 64 in 2018, also played in last year’s U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. He tied for sixth in the 2018 Florida Class 1A high school championship as a member of the Ransom Everglades High team. He tied for fourth in the 2019 Florida Boys Junior (ages 16-18). His father David has directed several successful studio films, including “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Marley & Me,” while his mother owns a Miami advertising agency. His grandfather, Max, was the executive editor of the New York Times. His twin sister, Phoebe, competed in three Class 1A girls’ high school state championships, with her best finish a tie for fifth in 2016.

Akshay Bhatia, 17, of Wake Forest, N.C., was the runner-up to Michael Thorbjornsen in the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club. He also advanced to match play in the last year’s U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. In 2019, Bhatia won the Jones Cup Invitational and the Dustin Johnson World Junior. He also made his PGA Tour debut at the Valspar Championship and tied for 42nd in his first Korn Ferry Tour event. In 2018, he captured his second consecutive Boys Junior PGA, the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley and the Polo Golf Junior Classic. Bhatia, whose sister Rhea was a member of the Queens University of Charlotte women’s golf team, aced the 17th hole at Pinehurst No. 2 when he was age 12.

Cade Breitenstine, 18, of Akron, Ohio, is competing in his first USGA championship. Breitenstine, who will attend Kent State University in the fall, tied for 11th in the 2017 Ohio Division I state championship and helped Green High finished third. His high school teammate Maxwell Moldovan is also in the U.S. Junior Amateur field. Breitenstine, who twice won the Tom Holzer AJGA Junior (2017, 2018), was third in this year’s Memorial Junior at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course. He tied for eighth in the 2018 Western Junior. His father, Stuart, was an All-America gymnast at the University of Iowa.

Michael Brennan, 17, of Leesburg, Va., qualified for last year’s U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach and competed in this year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. Brennan, who attends both Tuscarora High and the Academies of Loudoun (engineering & technology), claimed the 106th VSGA Amateur on June 28 with a 1-up victory in the 36-hole final. Brennan, who won the 2018 Virginia Class 5A state title, also posted an eight-stroke victory in the Scotty Roberson Memorial. In 2018, he became the first player since Deane Beman in 1963 to win consecutive Middle Atlantic Amateurs and captured the Dustin Johnson World Junior. He is also a member of his high school basketball team.

Ricky Castillo, 18, of Yorba Linda, Calif., is competing in his third consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur and advanced to the Round of 16 in both 2017 and 2018. Castillo was the youngest player (age 14) in the 2015 U.S. Amateur and reached the Round of 32 in 2017 at Riviera Country Club. He recently completed his senior year at Valencia High School and will attend the University of Florida in the fall. Castillo was a quarterfinalist and stroke-play medalist in the 2019 North and South Amateur in June and was third in the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. His brother, Derek, who plays at Cal State-Fullerton, tied for 10th in the 2019 Big West Conference Championship and competed in the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur and 2014 U.S. Amateur.

Kelly Chinn, 16, of Great Falls, Va., was medalist (66-67) and advanced to the Round of 32 in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club. He helped Langley High School win its second consecutive Virginia Class 6A state title this year and was runner-up after winning the individual state crown in 2018. He earned all-state recognition and was chosen to the Washington Post All-Met first team for the second straight year. Chinn won the Middle Atlantic Junior PGA in a three-way playoff on July 2 and tied for third in the Justin Thomas Junior on April 21. His father, Colin, is a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy who serves as Joint Staff surgeon at the Pentagon and is the chief medical advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Canon Claycomb, 17, of Bowling Green, Ky., reached match play in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur. He competed in U.S. Open sectional qualifying for the second consecutive year. Claycomb, who also played in the 2017 U.S. Amateur, splits time between Kentucky and Orlando, Fla. He was the runner-up in the 2018 Florida Class 1A state championship after tying for third the previous year, helping Circle Christian School capture the state title. He played on the Greenwood High School team in Bowling Green since fourth grade and, in 2016, he led the team to a second-place finish in the state championship while tying for second individually. He tied for 11th in the Northeast Amateur (second-best among junior players) on June 22 and finished second in last year’s Rolex Tournament of Champions.

George Duangmanee, 17, of Fairfax, Va., has registered five top-10 AJGA finishes this year, including a tie for 10th in the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. Duangmanee, who has also won five U.S. College Sports Camp (USCC) events in 2019, tied for 18th in the Northeast Amateur (third-best finish by a junior player). He advanced to the Round of 16 in this year’s Virginia State Amateur. In 2017, he won the U.S. Kids Teen Worlds and tied for ninth in the Virginia Class 6A state championship. Duangmanee claimed the 2015 Drive, Chip and Putt boys 12-13 title in a playoff at Augusta National Golf Club.

Trey Fessler, 18, of St. Michael, Minn., is competing in his second U.S. Junior Amateur. He tied a state high school record by carding a 9-under 63 at Riverwood National Golf Course in May 2018 just one year after having surgery for a heart ailment. He went on to tie for second in last year’s Minnesota Class AAA state championship and was runner-up in 2019. Fessler is a four-time all-state selection and a three-time conference champion. His father, Steve, is the golf professional at Medina Golf and Country Club and one of the top teachers in the state.

Matthew Garside, 18, of Bettendorf, Iowa, won the 2018 Iowa Class 4A championship 64 years after his grandfather (Tom) was the state medalist. Matthew shot a 65, the state tournament’s lowest round since 2001, to claim the championship. Garside, who will attend the University of Iowa in the fall, was chosen Mississippi Athletic Conference Golfer of the Year. He was runner-up in this year’s Iowa Junior Amateur and won the 2016 Minnesota Junior PGA.

Austin Greaser, 18, of Vandalia, Ohio, finished third in the 2018 Ohio Division I state championship after placing fifth the previous year. Greaser, who is competing in his first USGA championship, tied for third in both the Justin Thomas Junior and Under Armour/Jordan Spieth AJGA events this year. Greaser, who will attend the University of North Carolina in the fall, was chosen Greater Western Ohio Conference-American North Division player of the year and was a first-team all-conference selection.

Joshua Greer, 18, of Australia, advanced to the Round of 32 in the Australian Amateur and was a semifinalist in the Western Australian Amateur. He also finished ninth in the Australian Boys Amateur. Greer, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland and played pro youth junior soccer for St. Mirren FC, was the runner-up in last year’s Scottish Boys Amateur. In 2018, he captured the South Australian Junior Masters and the Western Australian Junior. He is a member of the Western Australian Interstate Team.

Dean Greyserman, 15, of Boca Raton, Fla., is the younger brother of Max Greyserman, who has four top-25 finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour this year and qualified for the 2017 U.S. Open. His parents were refugees from the Soviet Union. His father, Alex, is a hedge fund manager and math professor at Columbia University. His mother, Elaine, played tennis for Rutgers University. Dean, who attends the St. Andrew’s School, shared medalist honors with a 67 in the Princeton, N.J., sectional qualifier on June 17. Greyserman, who has three AJGA top-10 finishes this year, won the 2019 Florida Boys Junior by five strokes with a final-round 67 at Streamsong Resort’s Black Course.

Aidan Gutierrez, 13, of Valparaiso, Ind., is the youngest player in the U.S. Junior Amateur field. Gutierrez, who attends Ben Franklin Middle School, shared medalist honors in the Lafayette, Ind., sectional qualifier on June 24. He has won Hurricane Junior Golf Tour events this year, claimed the Indiana Age Group Championship for the second time and tied for fifth in the Indiana Junior PGA. In 2018, Gutierrez advanced to match play in the Indiana Boys State Junior. He can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under 40 seconds.

Drew Hackett, 18, of Charlotte, N.C., did not make the Charlotte Catholic High School team in tryouts as a freshman but would later help the program win consecutive Class 3A state championships. He tied for second as an individual this year after finishing fourth as a junior. Hackett, who will attend the University of North Carolina-Wilmington in the fall, was twice chosen Southern Carolina Conference Player of the Year and earned Charlotte Observer all-area honors. His parents played as collegians, his father (Jeff) for Ferris State University and his mother (Jenny) for Bowling Green State University.

Nathan Han, 18, of Somers, N.Y., is playing in his second U.S. Junior Amateur. A student at Somers High, he won his second consecutive state high school championship by seven strokes and became the first male player from Section I to win back-to-back titles. He made a 10-foot par putt on the third playoff hole to defeat Adam Xiao in last year’s state competition and tied for second in 2016. Han won the 2015 and 2016 Metropolitan Golf Association Boys Championship, the first player to win consecutive crowns in 30 years. He finished third in the Ike MGA Stroke Play on June 26. He will attend Columbia University and plans a career as a quantitative research analyst.

Griffin Hare, 16, of Tipton, Ind., grew up in a rural community of 5,000 and practices on the town’s municipal golf course. He took up the game at age 10 and is the first competitive golfer in his family. He tied for 12th in this year’s state championship and carded a 67 to win the Muncie Central Regional title. He tied for fifth in the Indiana Junior PGA.

Ryan Hart, 17, of Naples, Fla., is the son of Dudley Hart, who won two PGA Tour events and played in eight U.S. Opens, with his best finish a tie for 12th in 2002 on Bethpage State Park’s Black Course. Ryan helped Gulf Coast High School finish second in the 2018 Class 3A state championship and tied for 21st individually. He tied for 18th in the Florida Boys Junior at Streamsong Resort on July 6 and tied for fourth in last year’s New York State Boys Junior.

James Imai, 18, of Brookline, Mass., is a Japanese American who is competing in his third U.S. Junior Amateur. He reached match play last year at Baltusrol Golf Club and also qualified for the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. Imai considers 12 his lucky number because he was born on Dec. 12 at 5:34 a.m. (adds up to 12). Imai, who attends Brookline High School, was born in the 12th year of the current emperor’s reign and likes to use golf balls with the No. 12 on them. Imai won the 2018 Massachusetts Division I state high school crown, and earned Boston Globe and Boston Herald all-scholastic honors. Imai, who will attend Northwestern University in the fall, tied for fifth in the Terra Cotta Invitational on April 28.

Palmer Jackson, 18, of Murrysville, Pa., won the Class 3A state golf championship and helped his Franklin Regional High baseball team advance to the quarterfinals of the Class 5A state playoffs. Jackson, the Tribune-Review Westmoreland Athlete of the Year, won the state golf title by four strokes after tying for second the previous year. The 6-foot-1 right-handed pitcher also earned All-Section I honors. Jackson, who will attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall and play golf, reached match play in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur and competed in the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. Jackson, who was named after 1960 U.S. Open champion Arnold Palmer, won the Memorial Junior on June 6 and tied for 22nd (best finish by a junior player) in the Sunnehanna Amateur on June 22.

Alvin Kwak, 18, of Mukilteo, Wash., is competing in his third U.S. Junior Amateur. He advanced to the Round of 32 in 2017. Kwak helped Kamiak High School claim the 2019 Class 4A state championship. He has posted three top-10 finishes in state competition, including a tie for fifth in 2018. Kwak was born in Los Angeles, Calif., and lived in Korea for eight years before returning to the U.S. Kwak won the state boys’ championship (ages 12-13) in 2013 and captured the 2014 U.S. Kids Teen World Championship on the second playoff hole at Pinehurst No. 9.

Gaven Lane, 15, of Argyle, Texas, was the third-youngest competitor in U.S. Amateur history (14 years, 1 month, 28 days) when he played at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links last year. Lane, who will be a ninth grader at Argyle Middle School, won the Byron Nelson Junior by two strokes on June 6 with a 54-hole score of 208. He tied for second in the championship last year. Lane has recorded three top-20 finishes this year, including 14th in the Justin Thomas Junior and a tie for 17th in the Western Junior.

Yuxin Lin, 18, of the People’s Republic of China, is competing in his second U.S. Junior Amateur. Lin won the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand. His victory earned him exemptions into the 2018 Masters and The Open Championship, conducted by The R&A, at Carnoustie. Lin, who will attend the University of Southern California in the fall, tied for ninth in the 2018 Asia-Pacific Amateur and also played in the PGA European Tour’s Volvo China Open and Maybank Championship.

Brody Marconi, 16, of Portland, Ore., has been a member of two Class 6A state championship teams. Marconi, a rising junior, tied for second as a freshman and finished sixth in 2019. He has twice been named first team 6A all-league. His father, Dominic, is executive director of the Oregon PGA chapter and was the head golf professional at six-time USGA championship host site Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club from 2004-12.

Garrett Martin, 18, of San Antonio, Texas, is competing in his second U.S. Junior Amateur. Martin has been the medalist in two USGA qualifiers this year. He carded a 65 in U.S. Open local qualifying to advance to the sectional stage and shot a 70 in the Georgetown, Texas, sectional qualifier for this championship. He attends Johnson High School where his father, Michael, serves as head coach. The program finished fourth in the 2019 Texas 6A state championship. Garrett, a two-time San Antonio Express-News Golfer of the Year, tied for ninth in state competition for the second consecutive year. He has also been tutored by 1980 U.S. Amateur champion and 14-time PGA Tour winner Hal Sutton and PGA Tour winner Cameron Beckman.

Tom McKibbin, 16, of Northern Ireland, won the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley by one stroke over Maxwell Moldovan. He shot a first-round 64 en route to a 54-hole total of 6-under 210. He also claimed the Peter McEvoy Trophy in a three-way playoff on April 18, one of five top-10 finishes this year. In 2018, McKibbin was seventh in the Irish Boys Amateur, runner-up in the Campenato de Club Panoramica and advanced to match play in the Boys Amateur Championship, conducted by The R&A. He is a member of Holywood Golf Club, which also produced 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy.

Connor McKinney, 17, of Scotland, advanced to match play in The Amateur Championship, conducted by The R&A, and the Australian Amateur. McKinney, who lives in Perth, Australia, also reached the semifinals of the Western Australian Amateur and tied for 11th in the Australian Boys Amateur. In 2018 at age 15, he became the youngest medalist in the history of the Australian Amateur and made the Round of 32. He helped Great Britain and Ireland capture the Jacques Leglise Trophy and was a quarterfinalist in the Scottish Amateur. He tied for fourth in the English Boys Open Amateur Stroke Play.

Clay Merchent, 18, of Noblesville, Ind., is competing in his second U.S. Junior Amateur. Merchent, who played in the 2017 U.S. Amateur, was the runner-up in this year’s high school state championship after placing eighth the previous year. Merchent tied for fifth in the 2017 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club. He won the Drive category of the boys’ 14-15 division with a mark of 304.7 yards. Merchent, who tied for 29th in the Indiana State Amateur on June 20, has posted three AJGA top-20 finishes this year.

Maxwell Moldovan, 17, of Uniontown, Ohio, won the 2017 and 2018 Ohio Division I state championships and became the 19th two-time winner in the competition’s history. He helped Green High finish third in 2017 and his teammate Cade Breitenstine is also in the U.S. Junior Amateur field. Moldovan, who started playing at age 2, was the runner-up to Tom McKibbin by one stroke in this year’s Junior Invitational at Sage Valley and also placed second in the Memorial Junior on Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.

William Moll, 18, of Houston, Texas, is one of 27 players in the U.S. Junior Amateur field who were exempt from qualifying. Moll, who will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall, helped Houston Memorial High School finish third in the 2018 Texas 6A state championship. He was sixth as an individual after finishing second the previous year. Moll, who tied for seventh in the Toyota Junior World Cup on June 21, was a member of the 2018 USA Junior Ryder Cup Team. He tied for fifth in last year’s Texas State Amateur.

Yuki Moriyama, 18, of Japan, is competing in his third consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur. He advanced to the Round of 16 last year, losing to eventual runner-up Akshay Bhatia, and the Round of 32 in 2017, falling to eventual semifinalist Austin Eckroat. Moriyama, who attends American Heritage Academy in Las Vegas, finished third in the Western Junior Amateur and tied for 30th in the Sunnehanna Amateur. He also won the Hunter Mahan Junior by two strokes in March. In 2018, Moriyama claimed the FCG Nationals with a 54-hole score of 15-under 201 and was third in the Aaron Baddeley International Junior.

Tommy Morrison, 14, of Pinehurst, N.C., has posted six top-20 finishes this year, including a tie for third in the AJGA Under Armour/Jordan Spieth, a tie for fifth in the Terra Cotta Invitational and a tie for sixth in the Byron Nelson Junior. Morrison, who is 6-foot-8 and had surgery to repair a congenital heart defect, won the 2017 U.S. Kids World Championship in the boys-12 division. In 2018, he was the medalist and earned all-state recognition in leading The O’Neal School to the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Division 2A state crown. His teammate Jackson Van Paris is also in the U.S. Junior Amateur field.

William Mouw is coming off a victory in the 108th California State Amateur. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

William Mouw, 18, of Chino, Calif., advanced to the Round of 32 in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur and reached the Round of 16 in the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. He won the 108th California State Amateur when he defeated Christian Banke, 4 and 2, in the final on June 29. Mouw, the son of a chicken egg farmer, also claimed this year’s Thunderbird Junior Invitational and Ping Heather Farr Golf Classic. In 2017, he won the Western Junior by eight strokes, tying 1999 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Hunter Mahan’s 72-hole scoring record. Mouw, the winner of the 2015 IMG Junior World Championship (ages 13-14), was a member of the basketball and golf teams at Ontario Christian High.

Joseph Pagdin, 17, of England, is competing in his third U.S. Junior Amateur after advancing to the Round of 32 last year and the Round of 64 in 2017. He reached match play in The Amateur Championship, conducted by The R&A, in June and was a semifinalist in last year’s Boys Amateur. Pagdin, who moved to Florida at age 3, tied for fourth in the Class 3A state high school championship as a junior at Lake Nona High School. He tied for sixth the previous year. Pagdin, who also tied for fourth in this year’s Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, is a Great Britain and Ireland Boys Team member. He practices at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club alongside past U.S. Open champions Graeme McDowell (2010) and Justin Rose (2013).

Kristof Panke, 16, of Davenport, Wash., was a competitive ski racer for 11 years and traveled internationally before deciding to concentrate on golf in 2018. He was third in this year’s Class 1B/2B state championship after finishing seventh as a freshman. His sister, Kaysa, is a rising sophomore on the Gonzaga University golf team and won three consecutive state titles. His father, Rolf, is a family practice doctor and the Pankes have split time between Davenport and British Columbia. Kristof and Kaysa both competed as top-five level skiers in Canada.

Thomas Ponder, 17, of Dothan, Ala., is playing in his third U.S. Junior Amateur and advanced to the Round of 32 last year. Ponder, who attends Providence Christian School and will attend the University of Alabama in the fall, won the 2019 Alabama Class 4A state championship by four strokes after capturing the Class 3A state crown the previous two years. Ponder, who earned a black belt in karate at age 8, tied for 16th in this year’s Southeastern Amateur.

Luke Potter, 15, of Encinitas, Calif., is competing in his first USGA championship. He led La Costa Canyon High School to the 2019 state boys championship as a freshman. Potter birdied his last two holes for a 7-under 64 to win individual honors and became the second player from the San Diego Section to win a state title since the event was reinstated in 2004, joining four-time PGA Tour winner Xander Schauffele. Potter, whose teammate Kento Yamawaki is also in the U.S. Junior Amateur field, has four AJGA top-10 finishes this year. He won the 2018 Evian Junior Cup with a 36-hole score of 10-under 134, including a first-round 63.

Sam Renner, 15, of Bend, Ore., played for Bend North in the 2016 Little League World Series, in Williamsport, Pa. Renner, an outfielder and right-handed pitcher, helped his team post a 6-2 win over Italy in the consolation bracket. Renner, a rising sophomore at Summit High School, tied for 27th in this year’s Class 6A state golf championship and his team finished third. Renner, who also helped his basketball team to a state title, has advanced to all-state choir competitions in two consecutive years.

Brett Roberts, 17, of Coral Springs, Fla., is competing in his second U.S. Junior Amateur. His cousin, Taylor, reached the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship in 2017 and the Round of 16 last year. He won the 2019 Class 3A state championship as a junior from St. Thomas Aquinas High School. Roberts, who tied for second as a sophomore, was chosen Broward County golfer of the year by the Miami Herald and South Florida Sun Sentinel. He won the Wyndham Invitational on June 14 and tied for 17th one week later in the Western Junior.

Drew Salyers, 18, of Howard, Ohio, is one of 12 players in the U.S. Junior Amateur field who competed in U.S. Open sectional qualifying. Salyers was chosen Golfweek Junior Tour player of the year after recording two victories and six top-10 finishes. He shot a 62, including an eagle at the par-5 18th, at Cherry Blossom Golf and Country Club, in Georgetown, Ky., in March. Salyers, who is a rising senior at Howard East Knox High, earned All-Knox Morrow Athletic Conference honors. He tied for 10th in the 2017 Ohio Division III state championship. In 2019, he won the Justin Thomas Junior by shooting 68-66 for a four-stroke victory. He also tied for fourth in the Scotty Roberson Memorial.

Gordon Sargent, 16, of Birmingham, Ala., is a rising junior at Mountain Brook High School who has helped the golf program win three consecutive Alabama Class 7A state championships. He was the co-medalist in 2018 and runner-up this year. A two-time Rolex Junior All-American, Sargent tied for fifth in the AJGA Simplify Boys Championship at Carlton Woods. His father, Seth, has competed in two USGA championships, advancing to match play in the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur.

Elvis Smylie, 17, of Australia, won the 2019 Australian Boys Amateur by five strokes with a 72-hole score of 271 (13-under), including a third-round 63. Smylie, a left-hander who also reached match play in the Australian Amateur, is the son of former professional tennis players (Pete, Liz). Liz won four grand slam doubles titles, including Wimbledon in 1985. His godfather, Tony Roche, is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 2018, Smylie was the runner-up in the Queensland Amateur and Aaron Baddeley International Junior. He also won the Tasmanian Junior Masters.

Ian Siebers, 17, of Bellevue, Wash., advanced to match play in last year’s U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links. Siebers, a rising senior at Bellevue High School, led his team to the Class 3A state championship with a runner-up finish. He was fourth last year and tied for 10th as a freshman. In 2019, he tied for fourth in the AJGA Ping Heather Farr Classic and tied for fifth in the Thunderbird Junior Invitational. Siebers, who plays the trumpet, won the 2018 Pacific Northwest Junior PGA.

James Song, 18, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., is competing in his fourth U.S. Junior Amateur, the lone player in the field to accomplish the feat. He advanced to the Round of 16 last year and reached the Round of 64 in both 2016 and 2017. Song, who was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, posted three top-20 finishes as a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley in 2018-19. He tied for 33rd in the Pac-12 Conference Championship. Song, who has played in two U.S. Amateurs (2016, 2018), helped Torrey Pines High School win the 2016 state championship.

Preston Summerhays, 16, of Scottsdale, Ariz., is playing in his first U.S. Junior Amateur. He shot 65-60 in 2018 U.S. Amateur qualifying, the lowest 36-hole sectional score since 2011. Summerhays is the son of former PGA Tour player Boyd, the nephew of current PGA Tour player Daniel and the great nephew of Bruce, who won three PGA Tour Champions events. His 15-year-old sister, Grace, qualified for this year's U.S. Girls' Junior at SentryWorld. Preston, who attends Chaparral High School, captured last year’s Utah State Amateur to become the youngest player (age 15) to win the championship. He broke a record that was shared by Tony Finau and his uncle Daniel. In 2019, he played in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship and posted top-10 finishes in the Ping Heather Farr Classic (T-7) and Junior Invitational at Sage Valley (T-10).

Matthew Sutherland, 18, of Sacramento, Calif., is the nephew of Kevin, who has won twice on PGA Tour Champions this year, and the son of David, who competed on the PGA Tour in the early 1990s. Matthew and Kevin partnered to claim the pro-junior title in last year’s Pure Insurance Championship, held at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links. Matthew, who was sixth in the Memorial Amateur Championship in May, shot a 69 in the Woodland, Calif., sectional qualifier and advanced to his first U.S. Junior Amateur through a 6-for-1 playoff.

Michael Thorbjornsen, 17, of Wellesley, Mass., won the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, defeating Akshay Bhatia, 1 up, in the 36-hole final at Baltusrol Golf Club, in Springfield, N.J. It was his USGA championship debut. His victory earned him an exemption into the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links, where he made the 36-hole cut. Thorbjornsen, who also reached match play in the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach, played in the AJGA Wyndham Cup and Junior Ryder Cup in 2018. He won the 2016 Drive, Chip & Putt National Final (ages 14-15) at Augusta National Golf Club and was the 2012 and 2013 U.S. Kids Golf National Player of the Year.

Jack Townsend, 16, of San Diego, Calif., played in his first USGA championship with partner Tyler Gulliksen in the 2019 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. Townsend, a high school junior, won the San Diego Junior Golf Association’s Phil Mickelson Junior Players on June 21 and the Sean O’Hair Heritage on March 2. He tied for 19th in last year’s Aaron Baddeley International Junior Championship.

Alexis Valenzuela, 17, of Switzerland, is the younger brother of Albane Valenzuela, who was the 2019 Pac-12 Conference Golfer of Year from Stanford University. She has played in two U.S. Women’s Opens and was the runner-up to Sophia Schubert in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur. Alexis shared medalist honors (68) and survived a 5-for-3 playoff in the Ocala, Fla., sectional qualifier to advance to his first USGA championship. His father, Alberto, was an All-Pac-10 Conference selection at UCLA in the early 1980s. Alexis was diagnosed with autism at age 3 and did not speak the first five years of his life. He is now fluent in French and English and speaks Spanish. He has caddied for his sister in several major golf events.

Jackson Van Paris advanced to the Round of 32 in last year's U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Jackson Van Paris, 15, of Pinehurst, N.C., reached the Round of 32 in last year’s U.S. Amateur and became the seventh-youngest (14 years, 11 months, 21 days) to play in the championship. Van Paris, who also advanced to 2018 U.S. Open sectional qualifying, was the youngest to win a U.S. Amateur match since Bob Jones in 1916. Along with Tommy Morrison, 14, who is also in the field this week, Van Paris helped The O’Neal School capture the 2018 and 2019 North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA) state 2A championship. He was runner-up this year and finished third in 2018. As an eighth grader, he won the state individual title and was a first-team all-state selection. He won the AJGA Simplify Boys Championship at Carlton Woods on Feb. 18 in a three-way playoff.

Karl Vilips, 17, of Australia, reached the Round of 32 in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur and has played in two U.S. Amateurs (2016, 2017). He tied for sixth (best finish by a junior player) in the 2019 Northeast Amateur and matched the course record of 61 in the third round. Vilips has three other top-10 finishes, including second in the AJGA Simplify Boys Championship at Carlton Woods. In 2018, he won the Wyndham Invitational and was the runner-up in the Western Junior. In 2017, he captured the Southern Amateur title and matched Bob Jones (1917) as the youngest champion in tournament history. Vilips, who was born in Indonesia, has used fund-raising activities to travel to tournaments.

Alex Vogelsong, 18, of Palm City, Fla., is competing in his third USGA championship. He also qualified for the 2018 U.S. Amateur and 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur. He won this year’s Terra Cotta Invitational with a final-round 67 and a birdie on the first playoff hole. Vogelsong, who was born in France, tied for 10th in the Class 1A state championship for The Benjamin School after not playing the previous year due to transfer rules. He was chosen South Florida Sun Sentinel Boys Golfer of the Year. He also finished third in the Junior Orange Bowl Invitational.

Mason Wagner, 18, of Dublin, Ohio, has helped Jerome Dublin High win two consecutive Ohio Division I state championships (2017, 2018). He tied for fourth as a senior individually and tied for 11th the previous year. Wagner, who will attend Xavier University in the fall, earned first-team All-Ohio, first-team All-Central Ohio and first-team division recognition. Wagner, who failed in tryouts for his middle school team as a seventh grader, has won multiple events on the Golfweek Junior Tour.

Jack Wall, 18, of Brielle, N.J., has won back-to-back individual state high school championships and has helped Christian Brothers Academy win three consecutive state crowns. He and partner Brendan Hansen advanced to match play in this year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. Wall advanced through U.S. Open local qualifying to the sectional stage in 2019 for the second year in a row. He is one of 12 players in the U.S. Junior Amateur field who competed in U.S. Open sectionals. Wall, whose brothers, Jeremy and Ethan, each played at Loyola (Md.) University, was the 2018 NJ.com Golfer of the Year and finished second in last year’s New Jersey State Amateur.

Kento Yamawaki, 18, of Japan, advanced to match play in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur. Yamawaki was a member of this year’s state boys championship team at La Costa Canyon High School and a quarterfinalist in the 2019 California State Amateur. Yamawaki was also this year’s San Diego Section player of the year. He never finished lower than third in four sectional championships, including a title in 2017. His team won three division II team crowns and added conference and regional titles this year. Yamawaki won the 2018 Aaron Baddeley Junior Invitational.

Brian DePasquale is a manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at bdepasquale@usga.org

 

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