Jackson places in US Junior AM qualifier
By Keith Ledbetter
For the FCT
After placing 25th in the US Junior Amateur Golf qualifier last year, Red Bay junior Isaiah Jackson tied for second place this year, which will him to the championships at Woodlands, Texas, later this month.
Jackson competed June 23-24 at the Hattiesburg Country Club in Hattiesburg, Miss., and was just one of 58 golfers from six states that competed for only three invitations to the 67th U.S. Junior Amateur Championships.
“I’m pumped about it,” Jackson said this past Friday.
“I’ve never made it to anything national before. Last year I wasn’t even in contention.”
Jackson said this will be his first experience leaving this area to play, especially at this level.
With a two-day total of 144, Jackson tied with Zachary Zediker from Gray, Ga., and was just two strokes behind the leader, Charlie Miller, of Jackson, Miss., who shot a 142 for first place.
Isaiah shot a four under (68) on day one and ended the second day with a 76.
“That first day I had six birdies and that really made the difference,” he said.
“I had two bogies that kept me at four under on day one.
“The second day I had two doubles, which was kind of difficult to shoot under par, even with two doubles. I’m just glad I made it.”
Jackson said that he can definitely tell a difference in his playing from last year to this year.
“I was happy to be shooting in the mid 70s last year, this year that’s an okay round for me, but 68 is where I thought I should be.”
Jackson said that this is the first time that he played like he thought he should have been playing.
“It just felt good. I can definitely tell a difference in my game this year.”
Isaiah attributes his noticeable improvement on spending more time on the putting green.
“I’ve been practicing more on putting,” Jackson said.
“That has been the deciding factor this year.”
Jackson will shoot a practice round at the Jack Nicklaus design course at The Club at Carlton Woods on Sunday, July 20, and will play two qualifying rounds the first of the week.
If he makes it through the qualifying, he will advance to play in the championship rounds later in the week.
Out of approximately 5,000 junior golfers who enter the US Junior Amateur Qualifiers, only about two percent make it through to the US Junior AM Championship.
Jackson will be preparing for the Junior Championships by doing what he does best and that’s playing at some of the harder courses in the area.
This past Monday and Tuesday he played back at the state course in Prattville, Alabama and on July 8-9 he will be playing at the Tupelo course.
“Those are two really good courses that will help me get ready for the championships,” Jackson said.
“It’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be a lot of fun.”