Redemption song: Noah Goodwin rallies to win U.S. Junior, a year after losing in final

USGA

Redemption song: Noah Goodwin rallies to win U.S. Junior, a year after losing in final

Junior

Redemption song: Noah Goodwin rallies to win U.S. Junior, a year after losing in final

In 69 previous editions of the U.S. Junior Amateur, two players had won the championship the year after losing in the final – Mason Rudolph in 1950 and Tim Straub in 1983.

On Saturday at Flint Hills National in Andover, Kan., Noah Goodwin added his name to that short list.

The 17-year-old SMU commit from Corinth, Texas, rallied from 4 down with eight holes to play to defeat Matthew Wolff, an 18-year-old USC signee from Agoura Hills, Calif., 1 up in the 36-hole championship match.

“It’s every junior’s dream to win the U.S. Junior,” Goodwin said. “It’s the most prestigious junior event in the entire world. Everybody knows about it, and to add my name among the greats like Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods just means everything to me.”

Goodwin, Golfweek’s top-ranked junior golfer, lost to Min Woo Lee in last year’s U.S. Junior final at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn. A year later, Goodwin earned the 19th seed in match play, then defeated Dylan Fritz, future SMU teammate Joe Highsmith, Sean Maruyama, Davis Shore and Rayhan Thomas to earn his way back. His 5-and-4 victory over Thomas was especially impressive.

But it was Wolff, nearly eliminated in the Round of 16 until he won three straight holes to defeat Logan McAllister in 19 holes, who was more impressive early on Saturday. The long-hitting SoCal kid led 3 up after 16 holes of the morning half. Goodwin got it back to 1 down at the break, but Wolff stretched his lead to 4 up with eight holes to play in the afternoon after a birdie at the 10th hole.

That was when Goodwin, equally skilled with the driver, started his comeback. He won No. 11 with a long birdie make from 35 feet, then took the 12th hole with a conceded par. After winning pars on Nos. 14 and 15 by Goodwin, the match was suddenly all square.

Wolff didn’t give up, though. He hit a tree with his drive at the next hole, but made a great up-and-down for par to halve the hole. But after driving his ball into the water at the par-5 18th and missing a par putt, Wolff conceded a birdie putt – and the match – to Goodwin.

“It’s tough to come out on the bottom, but I played great all week,” Wolff said. “I tied for seventh (in stroke play), and beat a bunch of good players, including my roommate (and medalist Austin Eckroat, who caddied for Wolff after losing in the quarterfinals). Noah just got me at the end.”

Goodwin is part of some other notable lists, too.

Since 2012, three players have rallied from 4 or more down in the afternoon portion of a U.S. Junior final. Andy Shim trailed Jim Liu with 18 holes to play before winning in 2012, and Philip Barbaree was 5 down with eight holes to play before topping Andrew Orischak in 2015. Goodwin is now the third.

Also, Goodwin is the fourth different Cameron McCormick student to win the U.S. Junior since 2009. Jordan Spieth won twice, in 2009 and ’11; Will Zalatoris won in 2014; and Barbaree took the title in 2015. McCormick, who has two players in the top 3 of the British Open after 54 holes (Spieth and Austin Connelly), sent Goodwin a congratulatory text after his win.

“That just means a lot,” Goodwin said. “He’s done so much for my game. I can’t really express my gratitude for Cameron. I wouldn’t be where I am without him.”

And Goodwin is the seventh Texas native since 1999 to hoist the trophy, joining Spieth, Hunter Mahan (1999), Matthew Rosenfeld (2000), Cory Whitsett (2007), Scottie Scheffler (2013) and Will Zalatoris (2014).

Latest

More Golfweek
Home