Noah Kent kicked off one of the best runs of his golfing career last month by qualifying for the US Junior Amateur Championship for the first time.
Unfortunately, a right wrist injury will keep the Naples golfer and Gulf Coast High graduate from competing at the 75th edition of the tournament, set to begin Monday at Daniel Island Club in Charleston, SC
“It kind of sucks but you just have to move on,” said the 18-year-old Kent, who will play at Iowa this fall. “It’s the biggest junior event in the world and the one tournament I had circled on my calendar the most. But I have to look at the bigger picture rather than just trying to play in one tournament and end up messing up my wrist for an extended period of time.”
Kent suffered a small fracture in his wrist about four weeks ago, shortly after finishing in a tie for second place at the Western Junior Championship at Midlothian (Ill.) Country Club. An X-ray earlier this week revealed that the break was not fully healed.
A two-time Southwest Florida Boys Golfer of the Year, Kent missed out on qualifying for the US Junior Am in 2021 and 2022, both times by a single stroke. He potentially faced another agonizing disappointment at this year’s qualifier on June 12 at the Ames (Iowa) Golf & Country Club before closing with birdies on Nos. 16-18 to force a playoff.
“My mom was there with me and I told her I’m not letting this year go by without me making it,” he said.
Kent birdied the first playoff hole to earn a share of first place and an automatic berth into the Junior Am. Just two days later, he was in Baton Rouge for the Southern Junior Championship. Kent said the confidence he gained from his clutch performance in the qualifier carried over, helping him finish third at the Southern and second the following week at the Western.
“After I qualified it almost felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders because it was a tournament I wanted to play in so badly,” he said. “I think that helped me play a little freer.”
Kent said he’s now focused on getting his wrist healthy and his game ready for his first collegiate tournament at Iowa in September.
“I still have a lot of golf ahead of me,” he said.
This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: US Junior Amateur Championship: Noah Kent out due to wrist injury