Carl Underwood has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments in the past three months, including a Class 4A State Championship and a Junior America’s Cup team victory.
The Richland High School senior will try adding to that list this week at the Pacific Northwest Golf Association Junior Boys’ Amateur Championship, which begins Monday at The Home Course in DuPont.
Walla Walla High School’s Alex Johansen will also compete in the boys’ championship, and Alexa Clark (Kamiakin), Samantha Hui (Southridge) and Haley Greb (Pendleton) will play in the girls’ tournament.
“Anything with the (PNGA), all of those tournaments are really big, so yeah, this is a big one,” said Meadow Springs Country Club teaching professional Jason Aichele, who instructs Underwood, Hui and Greb. “When I do the tournament scheduling with my students at the beginning of the year, I say ‘hey, this is kind of a must.’”
Underwood had an understandably rough outing in his last tournament, failing to make the cut at the Washington Junior Golf Association State Championship in Bellingham, which began just three days after the Junior America’s Cup wrapped up in Guadalajara, Mexico. Underwood said both fatigue and a lack of time to work on his game after the America’s Cup contributed to the opening-round 83 he shot at Bellingham Golf and Country Club, and that he was looking forward to the bounce-back opportunity the PNGA Junior Championship could provide.
“(Playing well would) show all your competitors and colleges that one bad tournament won’t put you down for the summer,” Underwood said. “It’s definitely good to try to come back after a bad tournament.”
Underwood has been working with Aichele over the past couple weeks on keeping his elbow close to his body on his back swing, and the pair agreed it has helped Underwood’s consistency.
“He was taking it up pretty steep, which is going to cause the ball to go any direction,” Aichele said. “We got that taken care of and worked on some chipping, so he’s looking pretty good.”
Both Hui and Greb have played well in their summer tournaments and could be poised for a breakout showing this week, Aichele said.
Greb beat Ellie Slama of Salem in match play to win the Oregon Junior Amateur Championship at the beginning of July, then had a solid performance at the Girls’ Junior America Cup two weeks ago, finishing 50th overall while playing on the 10th place Oregon team.
Headed into her senior year at Pendleton High School, Greb committed to play for Colorado State beginning in 2017 on Thursday.
Hui has racked up multiple top 10’s at WJGA events this summer, including a third place finish at the WJGA State Championship and a seventh place finish at The Dropping Junior Championship in June at BanBury Golf Course in Eagle, Idaho, one of the premier high school showcase tournaments in the Pacific Northwest.
Underwood will tee off at 7:28 a.m. Monday on the lengthy, links-style Home Course that will play at 7,000 yards from the championship tees. Johanson will tee off at 10:29 a.m.
The course will play at 5,863 yards for the girls’ tournament, and Greb will be the first local talent to get her shot at it, beginning her day at 12:58 p.m. Clark will tee off in the following group at 1:08 p.m. and Hui will round out the local slate at 1:46 p.m.
Both tournaments will consist of 36 holes of stroke play, with the low 16 scores from each moving on to a single-elimination, match play bracket. Both championship matches will take place Friday, and the boys’ championship will be a 36-hole match.