AJGA Simplify Boys Championship Van Paris is last Commodore standing after playoff
THE WOODLANDS — The tournament that brought many of the country’s top junior golfers to The Club at Carlton Woods for Presidents Day weekend easily could have been billed as the Vandy Invitational.
Vanderbilt-bound players occupied four of the first five spots, including Jackson Van Paris, who won the AJGA Simplify Boys Championship on Monday in a two-hole playoff with Karl Vilips. Future Commodores Matthew Riedel and William Moll, both from Houston, shared fifth place, three shots behind Van Paris’ winning score of 8-under-par 208 on the Fazio Course.
Playing three groups behind Riedel, the final threesome of Van Paris, Moll and Gordon Sargent, also headed to the Nashville school, were garnering most of the attention.
“Our assistant coach was out here, and I was like, I don’t feel like I’m going to get watched a ton out here,” said Riedel, a senior at Stratford High School who had rounds of 69-73-69. “I wasn’t playing too good when he left (to follow the last group), but I ended up playing well. All of us (Vanderbilt players) played great.”
None more so than Van Paris of Pinehurst, N.C., who had three rounds (69-68-71) under par.
The playoff also included Canon Claycomb of Bowling Green, Ky., but he was eliminated on the first extra hole with a bogey on the par-4 No. 18 after shooting a final-round 70.
“I was playing two incredible players — Canon and Karl,” said Van Paris, who bogeyed his first hole of the day. “It was play your game and see what happens.”
For 18 holes, Van Paris went head to head with future college teammates Moll, who got within one stroke of the lead at 7 under but shot a final-round 73 after posting back-to-back 69s, and Sargent of Birmingham, Ala., who shared the lead at 8 under before making triple-bogey 8 on No. 17. He tied for fifth.
“It was incredible playing with Gordon and Will Moll in the last group,” said Van Paris, who is a sophomore in high school. “It was probably the most fun round of golf I’ve had, even though they didn’t play their best.”
Riedel, who won an AJGA tournament two years ago in Dallas as a sophomore, finished at 5 under by making a 15-foot downhill birdie putt on the finishing hole.
Van Paris, who made only three bogeys over three days, closed out Vilips in the playoff by draining an 8-foot putt for birdie.
First-round leader Joseph Pagdin of Orlando, Fla., finished fourth at 6-under 210.
Moll, who is a senior at Memorial High School, was pleased with his showing.
“I’ll take top five,” said Moll, who finished second in the state tournament two years ago and last year represented the U.S. on the winning Junior Ryder Cup team in Paris. “It’s really good competition. I played well this week, and I’m happy. I just needed a few shots down the stretch.”