Two star amateurs battle for spot in U.S. Open in Saturday’s U.S. Junior Amateur final

USGA flags fly over the Bandon Dunes Club House before the U.S. Junior Amateur at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

Tom Hauck/Getty Images

An invitation to the U.S. Open is up for grabs, and the two highest-ranked players in the field will fight for it.

The finals of the 74th U.S. Junior Amateur are set for Saturday at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, in southern Oregon, pitting Caleb Surratt, 18, of Indian Trail, N.C. against Wenyi Ding, 17, of the People’s Republic of China.

They’re the last players standing in a tournament that began on Monday with a field of 264 competitors, representing 25 different countries.

At this week’s U.S. Junior, there’s a lot at stake — but not the kind of prizes you can put a price on
By: Josh Sens

Surratt, an incoming freshman at the University of Tennessee, is No. 19 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He’s also one of the hottest hands in amateur golf, having finished in the top 10 in each of his last nine events. Ding, who ranks No. 20 in the WAGR, is a three-time winner of the Chinese Amateur Open and was the runner-up in the 2020 Volvo China Open. He is vying to become the first male player from China to capture a USGA event.

On their path to the finals, Surratt and Ding each won two matches on Friday. After a 1-up victory over Preston Stout, of Dallas, in the morning quarter finals, Surratt beat defending champion Nicholas Dunlap, of Tuscaloosa, 4 and 3 in the afternoon semifinals. Ding, meanwhile, beat Luke Potter, of Encinitas, Calif., 1-up in the quarters, and then outlasted Eric Lee, of Fullerton, Calif., in the afternoon, winning that semifinal match in 20 holes.

The winner of Saturday’s 36-hole final will earn an automatic exemption into the 2023 U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club.

Play gets underway at 7:45 a.m. local time on the resort’s Bandon Dunes course, and will air on Golf Channel at 3 p.m. ET.

josh sens

Josh Sens Contributor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.