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Five things to know: Vanderbilt junior Jackson Van Paris

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Amateur Jackson Van Paris shot a final-round 8-under, 64 at the Puerto Rico Open at Grand Reserve Golf Club. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Amateur Jackson Van Paris shot a final-round 8-under, 64 at the Puerto Rico Open at Grand Reserve Golf Club. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Vanderbilt junior impresses in TOUR debut at Puerto Rico Open

    Vanderbilt junior Jackson Van Paris made his PGA TOUR debut at this week’s Puerto Rico Open, and he wasn’t content to just make a life memory. He delivered some fireworks.

    Van Paris carded a final-round, 8-under 64 at Grand Reserve Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, stampeding from 50th place into the top 10 on the leaderboard as he finished his round.

    Van Paris finished third in last summer’s Elite Amateur Golf Series to earn the Puerto Rico invite, and he stood T7 for the event at the time of signing his card, with the leaders having just started the final round.

    (Professionals who finish top-10 in a TOUR event will earn a spot in the next Full-Field Event; whereas amateurs are not eligible for this benefit. Van Paris is competing at the Puerto Rico Open as an amateur.)

    Here are five things to know about the native of Pinehurst, North Carolina, whose star could be rising fast in the golf world.

    1. He’s the youngest player since Bobby Jones to win a U.S. Amateur match. Playing in the 2018 U.S. Amateur at age 14, Van Paris qualified for match play and defeated Dylan Perry in the Round of 64, and he did it in style – chipping in for birdie on Pebble Beach’s par-5 18th hole for a 1-up victory. Van Paris did so a week shy of his 15th birthday; at the 1916 U.S. Amateur at Merion, Jones won a match at 14 years, 5 months, 19 days. Van Paris fell to Mason Overstreet, 3 and 2, in the Round of 32, but his performance on the Monterey Peninsula was a signal that his name could be one to remember.

    2. He’s a winner at the Home of Golf. Last fall, Van Paris earned his first collegiate victory at the inaugural St. Andrews Links Collegiate, carding 9-under 131 for a three-stroke win over his Vanderbilt teammate Cole Sherwood. Stroke play was contested at St. Andrews’ Jubilee Course, with medal match play then contested at the Old Course (Vanderbilt defeated North Carolina in the final). Van Paris had never played British links golf prior to the trip, but his learning curve was accelerated. “He’s someone that really knows how to keep his ball low to the ground, has an unbelievable short game, and a great imagination,” Vanderbilt head coach Scott Limbaugh told Golf Channel afterward.

    3. His amateur golf accomplishments are far-reaching. Van Paris was a four-time Rolex Junior All-American, represented the United States in the 2019 Junior Presidents Cup and won the 2020 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley and Sea Pines Junior Heritage, among other junior golf feats. He was named Division I PING All-Region (Southeast) as a Vanderbilt sophomore in 2022-23, and he won last summer’s Sunnehanna Amateur. He also shot a course-record 61 at Pinehurst No. 4 during last summer’s North & South Amateur.

    4. His Vanderbilt teammates were keeping tabs in Puerto Rico. Van Paris raced up the Puerto Rico Open’s final-round leaderboard with an eagle and three birdies on his front nine, then added three birdies in his final four holes. After Nick Dunlap’s historic January victory at The American Express, becoming the first amateur to win on TOUR in 33 years, it served as another reminder that college golf is in perhaps its strongest spot ever. “I’m sure our team group chat is having a field day,” Van Paris laughed after his final round in Puerto Rico. “I’m excited to go see what they have to say.”

    5. He thinks beyond the course. Through the AJGA’s Leadership Links program, Van Paris organized and hosted the 2018 Carolina Cup, benefitting the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. The Ryder Cup-style tournament, hosted at Pinehurst, featured 28 junior golfers from across North Carolina with each junior responsible for raising at least $1,000.

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