Pinecrest senior Jackson Van Paris was one of five junior golfers in the country that were announced this week as Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Award winners.
The award, named after one of the all-time greats in the game of golf, selects a handful of golfers each year “who embody the same values of integrity and sportsmanship that Byron Nelson upheld in his own life,” a press release said.
This year Van Paris, David Ford, Gordon Sargent, Kelly Chinn and Rose Zhang are the 2021 Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Award recipients. This year is especially noteworthy as Zhang makes history as the first female to ever receive the award.
Young athletes who distinguish themselves with high level of junior tournament play as well as excellence in academics, a commitment to community service and exceptional character are selected each year.
Van Paris, of Pinehurst and a member at the Country Club of North Carolina, will continue his education in the south at Vanderbilt University in Fall 2021. He is ranked No. 2 in AJGA rankings, and his achievements include wins at the 2020 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, 2019 AJGA Simplify Boys Championship, 2018 Justin Rose Invitational, 2021 AJGA Simplify Boys Championship and reached the round of 32 in the 2018 U.S. Amateur Championship. He was the only 14-year-old ever to win a match in the history of the U.S. Amateur other than Bobby Jones in 1916 at Merion. He won the individual title and led the U.S. team to victory at the 2017 Evian Junior Cup Team in Evian, France and was a 2018, 2019, 2020 Wyndham Cup Team Member. He was a 2019 Jr. Presidents Cup Team Member (Royal Melbourne, Australia) and 4-time Rolex Junior All American, with a 2017 Honorable Mention, 2018 Second Team, 2019 First Team, and 2020 First Team.
This season for Pinecrest, Van Paris recorded a season-long nine-hole average of 33.9 strokes. He won the Sandhills Athletic Conference individual championship last week on Pinehurst No. 1 and was named the conference’s player of the year.
Charitably, Van Paris hosted the Carolina Cup in 2017-2020 during which they raised $250,000 to benefit three charities. In 2020, Van Paris was recognized by the AJGA and received The Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award, one of the highest honors for charitable activities. His own peers and the AJGA staff selected him to be the 2020 AJGA Boys Player Representative.
Nelson, a revered philanthropist, is remembered for more than his incredible golf game. Nelson is known and remembered as a role model with outstanding character and integrity. As a professional golfer, Byron Nelson attained 52 professional victories, five major championships, and even an unprecedented 11 wins in a row (75 years later he still holds this record). Nelson used his name and legacy to dedicate himself to not only the children and families of Momentous Institute, but also young players, offering them advice on the game of golf, humility, and good sportsmanship. Byron Nelson led by example through demonstrating an incredible golf game and even more incredible morals.