William Mouw, son of a chicken farmer, advances at U.S. Amateur

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William Mouw, son of a chicken farmer, advances at U.S. Amateur

Amateur

William Mouw, son of a chicken farmer, advances at U.S. Amateur

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – William Mouw is just four wins away from a U.S. Amateur title this week at Pebble Beach. But the 17-year-old Pepperdine commit isn’t counting his chickens before they hatch.

Even though he’s pretty good at it.

Mouw’s father Bill, a former aspiring pro golfer, owns and operates Billy’s Egg Farm, which sits on about 3 acres in Chino, Calif., where the Mouws live. William and his little brother, 15-year-old Trey, begin their days at home collecting eggs from the 35,000 chickens that live on the farm.

The family also runs a drive-thru store that sees about 300 customers a day.

“Growing up on the farm, it taught us a good work ethic and made us stronger,” said William, who has two sisters, as well – Madison, 20, and Taryn, who is Trey’s twin.

Mouw is showcasing that strength so far at Pebble Beach. He just snuck into match play at 3 over, and then as the 53rd seed rallied from 3 down after nine holes to beat Alex Scott, 1 up, in the Round of 64. On Thursday morning, Mouw found himself down again, this time 2 down after 12 holes to Georgia signee Trent Phillips, who had beaten Mouw just last month at the U.S. Junior Amateur.

“That day at Baltusrol, I forced too many shots, and I learned from that,” Mouw said. “I knew I needed to hit one good shot at a time. Sometimes 30 feet away on the green is OK, force him to make par.”

With Mouw limiting his aggression, the left-handed Phillips was the one who made mistakes. After losing the 13th hole, he left a wedge shot into the par-5 18th well short of the green, then needed three more shots to find the putting surface. Mouw won the hole with par to square the match back up.

Phillips took the lead again with birdie at the par-4 16th and held that advantage entering the iconic par-5 18th hole. Mouw’s drive hit the massive cypress tree in the middle of the fairway and ricocheted backwards, forcing him to lay up. Phillips also laid up, but followed with a wedge shot that sailed over the green.

Mouw knocked his wedge to 10 feet and two-putted to send the match to extra holes. After match pars on the par-4 first, Mouw got up and down from a greenside bunker to win the match on the par-4 second, as Phillips chunked a chip from a gnarly lie behind the green.

“He toughed it out today,” said Trey, who is on the bag this week. “He’s been so clutch.”

Added current Pepperdine golfer Sahith Theegala, who grew up in Chino and was following the match: “He’s super explosive. When he gets hot, he’s really hot. He’s the type of guy who can easily roll off five, six birdies in a row, and that’s why he’s so good at match play. But he also doesn’t get down. I don’t think he’s played great this week so far, but he’s gutted it out so hard.”

Mouw had a quick turnaround Thursday as he was set to face Vanderbilt’s Will Gordon in a Round-of-16 match that began less than an hour after the conclusion of his extra-hole match against Phillips.

Not that Mouw isn’t used to long days. After his work on the farm is done, Mouw often hits balls on the range he built on the property. It’s not like most ranges, though – Mouw and his brother have to hit balls over the chicken coops.

The Mouw brothers are pretty competitive. From golf matches to putting contests to 3-point shootouts on their home basketball court. (Both players are accomplished hoopers, as well.) Many times, the loser has to shovel the chicken poop.

“I lose most of the time,” Trey said.

Trey has only beaten his older brother once on the golf course, at General Old Golf Course in Riverside.

“He had a bad day,” Trey said.

Mouw has yet to have a bad day so far at the U.S. Amateur. His game hasn’t been firing on all cylinders, but he’s been able to grind out wins. He knows the challenge will only get tougher, but he’ll continue to channel his inner Karate Kid.

It’s one of Mouw’s favorite movies, so much so that he and Trey watched it together before match play started.

“Win or lose, doesn’t matter. Fight hard. Earn respect,” goes one line from the flick.

As a kid who collects thousands of chicken eggs and scoops poop for gas money, it’s hard not to earn respect. And that isn’t even counting his fight on the golf course.

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