Date: September 27, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Vilips fires, but US juniors hold on

If it’s possible for an inaugural event to have a familiar refrain, that was the Junior Presidents Cup.

Just like their open-age counterparts a handful of times previously, the International team fared superbly in singles matches today, but couldn’t undo the damage of the opening team sessions as the United States saluted 14-10 overall.

The young International squad, which entered the second and final day at New Jersey’s Plainfield Country Club in a 9-3 hole after yesterday’s fourball and foursomes matches, was superb today.

In beating the highly regarded American team 7-5 in the singles session, they left with heads held high.

But just as open-age International team captain has been imploring his charges to make a fast start when their competition begins later this week at nearby Liberty National, the damage the junior Americans did early was simply too much to overhaul.

Outstanding Victorian prospect Karl Vilips was the only Australia of the three in the International team to secure his point today, playing quality golf almost throughout his 4&3 win over Prescott Butler.

Vilips, at 16 the youngest player on either team, turned up the heat early with a birdie on the par-three third, then another on the long seventh to skip to what became a match-winning 3-up lead.

The Florida-based Aussie gave a couple back with back-nine bogeys, but was far too solid and saluted with a par on the short 15th – a fitting result after he played so well but came up just shy in both team matches a day earlier.

The individual results weren’t quite as bright for Josh Armstrong and Fred Lee who both, uncustomarily, struggled to find a birdie.

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Armstrong, of Canberra, lost four front-nine holes with bogeys, picking up just one when Canon Claycomb made a meal of the long seventh hole.

The Aussie did little wrong on the back nine, but Claycomb’s two-putt birdie on the 14th was his second on the par-fives and enough to end the match 5&4.

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Lee, of Western Australia, was made to pay for a slow start with four bogeys in his opening five holes compounded by a double on the sixth to slide 4-down before he knew what had hit him.

Birdies on the ninth and 10th enabled Lee to climb back within two of Garrett Barber, but the American cashed in on the long 14th to regain his earlier advantage and then sealed the match 4&3 when the pair halved the 15th in bogeys.

The team all had the honour of chatting and posing for photos with legendary honorary captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player after the event.


All will now move to play a “cheerleading” role at the Presidents Cup which begins with five foursomes matches on Friday morning at 3.05am (Australian eastern time.)

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