Jackson Van Paris

Jackson Van Paris hits his tee shot on the second hole during the round of 64 at the 2021 U.S. Junior at The Country Club of North Carolina Wednesday.

With the Dogwood Course at the Country Club of North Carolina firming up compared to the first two days of the 73rd U.S. Junior Amateur, the birdie chances weren’t as plentiful during the opening round of match play.

That let to a round where Jackson Van Paris couldn’t point out much that stood out in particular to claiming his 4 and 3 win over Spencer Turtz Wednesday, but his game spoke for itself as it stayed steady and true through the 15 holes he played.

“To be honest, just solid golf,” the CCNC member said. “I did a good job of not giving him too much breathing room. I made a lot of pars. I made two bogeys, but they were holes that I thought were playing pretty tough, and they were holes that I just -- bogey was kind of an OK score on. So I was really happy with that, and match play it's really important to kind of not really give your opponent any holes.”

Van Paris plays Benjamin Reuter of the Netherlands in the round of 32 Thursday morning at 7:12 a.m.

With the greens not as receptive to the approach shots, the round was a “grind” for Van Paris, he said.

“Neither Spencer or I played our best,” Van Paris said. “It’s one of those matches that neither of us played the way we wanted to, but you kind of just got to grind it out. I got fortunate I made a few really important putts for par and kind of kept momentum for the most part.”

Through the first 10 holes, Van Paris built up a 5-up lead, and used a three-hole stretch from 8, 9 and 10 with wins. Birdies came on the ninth and 10th holes to take control.

The third and fifth holes helped Van Paris build momentum as he went up and down from the drop zones to earn halves on the holes.

“Hole 5 I got up and down from the drop zone for par. That was really big for me to keep my momentum,” Van Paris said. “No. 3 was really big for me, I hit it in the water on 3 and got up and down from the drop zone for bogey, and he had like a 40-footer for birdie and ended up three-putting. Stuff like that kind of needs to happen if you want to win matches when both guys are playing very well. It was by no means a birdie-fest out there.”

With players representing 20 different states and five different countries, Van Paris’ opponent was an hour and a half away in Charlotte.

“Spencer and I are good friends, so you just hate -- you don't want to play your friend in the first round of match play,” Van Paris said. “It's unfortunate. But we had fun. It was a fun day. Yeah, but it was weird playing someone from North Carolina.”

Now the field continues to be cut in half each round, and Van Paris’ side of the bracket does feature several names high in the World Amateur Junior Golfer Rankings. But that’s not something he wants to shy away from.

“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. 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.”

Contact Jonathan Bym at (910) 693-2470 or jonathan@thepilot.com.

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