PARK RIDGE, Ill. (Thursday, June 22) – William Mouw, 16, of Chino, California, made his long walk look easy Thursday, showing stamina and skill in mastering the 36-hole final and posting a record-tying, wire-to-wire victory in the 100th Western Junior at Park Ridge Country Club in Park Ridge, Illinois, Thursday.
Mouw, who held a two-shot lead heading into the final day, strolled away from the field with a pair of 3-under 67s for a 72-hole total of 266 to tie the 72-hole record set by Hunter Mahan in 1999 on the Tradition course at Treetops Sylvan Resort in Michigan. In second, a distant eight shots back at 274, was Karl Vilips, 15, of Australia.
After taking the 36-hole lead Wednesday, Mouw said he had walked 36 holes six days in a row recently to prepare for the Western Junior’s arduous final day. That preparation helped him best the heat and humidity that blanketed Park Ridge Country Club throughout the day and paved the way to his win.
“It was one of the toughest golf days I’ve played, but my legs are doing well,” said Mouw, a junior at Ontario Christian School in Ontario, California. “I drank 20 bottles of water and a couple of Gatorades and think I ate about six bananas.”
Mouw, who built his lead to 6-under after 54 holes, said he kept his focus by setting a goal to beat himself.
“I was going to go as low as I could today,” he said. “My goal was 67 and I hit my goal both times.”
He did it by sticking to his game plan of one shot at a time, playing aggressive and trusting in his swing.
“I hit the ball well, and my speed was good with my putts,” said Mouw, a long hitter who can hit his 2-iron 285-290 yards. “I think I only three-putted once all week. My caddie helped me a lot, kept me calm.”
Mouw, who has verbally committed to play his collegiate golf at Pepperdine, became just the second wire-to-wire winner of the Western Junior since the 1999 format change. The first champion to take and hold the lead all four rounds was Jonathan Moore in 2001 at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mouw’s eight-shot win also matched the record for largest margin of victory, set in 2014 by KK Limbhasut at Flossmoor Country Club in Flossmoor, Illinois.
Mouw has come close to victory this year, tying for second in the Heater Farr Classic and tying for fourth in the AJGA Junior at Greenhorn Creek.
Winning the Western Junior “is a great feeling,” he noted. “This win means a lot – it’s a big one, one to put in the memory book. These guys (his competitors this week) are the best in America. I’m honored ...”
Vilips, who ended up being Mouw’s closest competitor, struggled with his driving all week, keeping him from giving Mouw a closer battle for the title. Vilips, a sophomore at Saddlebrook Prep in Wesley Chapel, Florida, was paired with Mouw in 2015 IMG World Golf Championship, which Mouw won.
“I missed a few opportunities,” said Vilips, who has committed to play his collegiate golf at Stanford. “My tee shots were everywhere this week. He (Mouw) is definitely a good player. He played great golf the whole week.
“I probably hit fewer than 40 percent of the fairways this week, but probably got up and down 60 percent of the time,” added Vilips. “The course is in great shape and it’s tough, especially when you hit it everywhere off the tee like I did.”
Mac Meissner, 18, San Antonio, Texas, finished third, one back of Vilips at 275.
“It was nice to get a good finish,” said Meissner, who’s heading to SMU this fall. “This course is amazing ... in perfect shape and demanding off the tee.”
Meissner also credited Mouw for his amazing showing this week. “To shoot 14-under over four rounds out here is really remarkable,” he said. “That some solid golf, but he’s a solid player.”