A story from the tape allegedly suggested a clash between David and Goliath in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship final, with Wenyi Ding of the People’s Republic of China dominating his American opponent, North Carolinian Caleb Surratt. But he didn’t follow the script.
Ding, 17, became the first Chinese male player to win a USGA championship and only the fifth international player to win the US Junior Amateur, beating Caleb Surratt, 3-2, in the 36-hole final at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Oregon, on Saturday.
When the two players posed with the trophy before their match began, Ding looked more than a head taller, although talent isn’t measured in height. In fact, 18-year-old Surratt, a freshman at the University of Tennessee, was 19th in the world amateur golf rankings, while Ding was ranked 20th. In fact, based on the WAGR, they were the two highest-ranked players in the entire field, pointing to a competitive final.
Additionally, Surratt entered the week with momentum. He had finished tied for second in the Pacific Coast Amateur in Portland the previous week, and in his previous nine starts, including two wins, had not finished outside the top 10. And he had never trailed in his five matches leading to the final against Ding.
Yet that day, what unfolded was largely a mismatch until a furious Surratt rally served to close Ding’s margin of victory.
Ding, who has verbally pledged to attend Arizona State University, took the lead for good on the 10th hole on the morning 18 and had a 3 lead by the lunch break. Then in a five-hole streak at the start of the second 18, Ding played them to par four under – two birdies, an eagle and a par – to increase his lead to 6. Ding also won two of the next three holes to mount 8 with eight holes remaining.
By then, it obviously seemed over. Then the unimaginable began to happen. Ding’s first bogey of the day, on the 29th hole, began to irritate him and he lost five straight holes to reduce his lead to 3 with three to go, before ending it with a par two putts on the 36th hole. Match.
“The first hole I lose, I hit a bad shot with the driver, left rough, and the ball is unplayable,” Ding said. “I got a penalty. After the par three, I think I’m going to win, but he birdied it. At the par five, really nervous.
It was Surratt’s own error from the green on the par-4 16th hole that ultimately ended the situation. Undecided on how to play the shot with a bunker in the way, Surratt changed corners, then chipped so far left of the hole that he left him with a long downhill birdie putt that he missed from the side. down.
Ding quickly made a two-putt par of about six feet to end it.
“Really, I’m learning a lot,” Surratt said, explaining what he took away from the loss. “Wenyli played great golf there. It was truly an uphill battle. A few hits that I wish I could get back, but it was a good fight, something to build on and learn from. I fought hard. I just learn more and more. I’m just going to keep working hard and building my game.”