Hear from the Bobby Chapman Junior Invitational Champion Karl Vilips about his dominating win at the Country Club of Spartanburg
The Bobby Chapman Junior Invitational celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.
The tournament played at The Country Club of Spartanburg has grown from a good junior event in South Carolina to a well respected regional event and now is considered by many as the top two-day junior tournament in the country.
“We all had high hopes for the tournament when we started it,” said Dough Smith, who has been the chairman of the event since it began in 1995. “We thought it could become a good regional tournament, but we never thought we would be considered the best tournament in the country and be hosting the number one player in the country,” he said.
However, this year the number 1 tournament in the country did in fact include the number 1 ranked junior player in the country.
Karl Vilips from Land O Lakes, Florida came into the tournament as the top ranked junior according to the Junior Golf Scoreboard.
Over the weekend he showed why he has earned the top spot.
Vilips opened the 36 hole championship with an 8-under par 63 to hold a two shot lead over a field that included 53 of the top 100 juniors in the country.
The two shot lead wasn’t enough for Vilips. He came out in the second round with the intention of increasing it.
“I just wanted to make it (the lead) bigger,” said Vilips. “That was my motivation to make the lead as large as possible,” said the future Stanford golfer.
Vilips didn’t waste any time adding to his lead. He birdied the first hole and made the turn at 3-under par 32. On the back nine he matched the front nine score to finish at 15-under par leaving the rest of the field battling for second place.
The 2019 Chapman champion had just returned from a trip to China and had not practiced much in the two weeks leading up to the tournament. He didn’t come to Spartanburg with any expectations.
“None. I was just coming in here to learn a few things about my game. I learned under pressure I can pull off a confident swing and it would be worth it,” he said.
Villips challenged the conventional wisdom on the best way to play the tight and not exceptional long Spartanburg course. Most above average golfers use a combination of 3-woods and hybrids off the tees, Vilips had a different game plan.
The high school senior displayed exceptional accuracy from the the tee boxes carding only two-bogeys in the tournament.
He only hit his 3-wood once on one of the par four or five holes. The rest of the time he was swinging the big stick.
“My goal was to hit driver on every hole, stick to my gut and be aggressive,” he said.
The game plan worked as Vilips’ 127 total came within a shot of tying the tournament scoring record set by Davis Shore in the 2015 Chapman.
Joseph Pagdin from Orlando tied with Gordon Sargent from Mountain Brook, Alabama for second place seven shots behind Vilip.
Nathan Franks from Roebuck finished as the top South Carolinian in the event. The future Gamecock golfer flirted with the top-10, but finished in a tie for 16th place at 1-under par.
Vilips trip to Spartanburg was a part of a junior schedule some professionals would envy. He gave the Chapman high marks following his victory.
“I loved the course and the club. I was treated so well and got the full Spartanburg experience. This is one of my favorite tournaments of the year, ” concluded the new champion.
Only time will tell if Vilips can add to the list of distinguish Alumni from the Chapman.
The first tournament was won by Lucas Glover who went on to win the 2009 US Open. Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Bill Haas, and Kevin Kisner are just a few of past Chapman participants who have won on the PGA Tour.
“The very first year was interesting since we were a new event, but it could not have worked out better than to have a future US Open champion (Glover) win our first tournament,” noted Smith.
In addition to producing one of the highly regarded junior championships in the country, the Chapman also produced a substantial contribution to a local scholarship fund.
“We made a push since this was the 25th and we raised $504,000. It all goes for scholarships to kids who need it, who are non golfers. In the last 24 years we have given away a lot of scholarships through the tournament,” said Smith.
The Chairman like the other remaining five board members from the first event are thrilled the tournament has grown to the stature it now receives and maintains the level of support from the members at the Spartanburg club.
“We are so proud of how many of the players who have been here have gone on to be successful, thats the part of the Chapman we all really love,” concluded Smith.
Complete tournament scoring available here
Hear from Chapman Tournament Director Doug Smith about the events 25 year history.