Blog Junior: Keeping up with all things junior golf

Junior golf is a proving ground for the next level of competition, and a place where the next star is often identified early.

Looking to keep up with names you should know, tournaments you should follow and news of the junior golf world? Golfweek is here to help. Keep an eye our running junior blog.

We’ll compile newsy nuggets about venues, junior tours, players, significant wins and more here so you can easily follow the game at the junior level. Keep an eye on the “junior” tab on for all other junior-related news.

Also make sure you keep an eye on Golfweek’s Junior Rankings:

Boys rankings | Girls rankings

Summerhays plays his way into another PGA Tour event

July 2

Preston Summerhays was cruising at Keene Run before heavy rains ended his quest for the inaugural Barbasol Junior Championship title. When it became impossible to finish the 54-hole events, tournament officials reverted to the 36-hole total. Summerhays, who put his name on the map with the 2019 U.S. Junior title and 2020 Sunnehanna Amateur title, claimed the exemption into the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship that went with the win.

Even had the last round gone off under as planned, it’s hard to say whether anyone in the field could have caught Summerhays. His 11-under 133 total gave him a six-shot cushion entering the final round.

Andrew Goodman of Norman, Oklahoma, Nicholas Gross of Downingtown, Pennsylvania, Myles Jones of Suwanee, Georgia, and Matthew Troutman of Louisville, Kentucky finished as runners-up.

Summerhay’s U.S. Junior victory scored him a ticket to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2020. He missed the cut there by three shots. He’ll be a freshman at Arizona State in the fall.

-Julie Williams

Pepsi Little People’s returns to in-person format for 48th playing

June 29

Credit the long-running Pepsi Little People’s Championship for pulling off one of the most creative workarounds to COVID-19 in the summer of 2020. The Little People’s went all virtual in its 47th year but earlier this month, it was back to Quincy, Illinois for a return to normalcy.

After the competition at Knights of Columbus Par 3 (players 3-7 years old) and Westview Golf Course (all other age divisions) in Quincy on June 21-23, here are the final results (note: different divisions play different yardages and number of holes):

Boys 3-5 age group: Dacio Diaz, Greenwood, Indiana – 42

Girls 3-5 age group: Eden Fimmen, Quincy, Illinois – 81

Boys 6-7 age group: Jacob Eagan, Castle Rock, Colorado – 66

Girls 6-7 age group: Ari Brock, Quincy, Illinois – 83

Boys 8-9 age group: Adam Robinson, Jerseyville, Illinois – 77

Girls 8-9 age group: Elle Sanderson, Pittsfield, Illinois – 97

Boys 10-11 age group: Anson Munzlinger, Columbia, Missouri – 146

Girls 10-11 age group: Leona Rupp, Iowa City, Iowa – 194

Boys 12-13 age group: Ty Novosel, Quincy, Illiois – 151

Girls 12-13 age group: Courtney Beerheide, Arlington Heights, Illinois – 145

Boys 14-15 age group: River Stilley, Benton, Illinois – 144

Girls 14-15 age group: Eva Greenberg, Rockford, Illinois – 149

Boys 16-18 age group: Eric Klutke, Crystal Lake, Illinois – 142

Girls 16-18 age group: Emily Wilson, Brentwood, Tennessee – 152

Interestingly, while tournament director and founder Nan Ryan, 86, couldn’t make it to Quincy this year, she was there in spirit – er, cardboard. A cut-out of her made the rounds all over the course.

-Julie Williams

U.S. Junior Ryder Cup selections are on the horizon

June 11

The Junior Ryder Cup will return this year along with the Ryder Cup. The junior version of the match against the best from the United States and the best from Europe will take place Sept. 20-21 at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

As the junior golf season heats up, so does Junior Ryder Cup qualifying. The U.S. team will include six girls and six boys. All potential players must compete in the 2021 Girls or Boys Junior PGA Championship to be eligible, unless exceptional circumstances prevent the player from competing. There will be 10 players who qualify the team based on an exemption, and two Captain’s picks by United States Team Captain and PGA Past President Derek Sprague.

The final U.S. team will be revealed on Monday Aug. 2, and will try to defeat the Europeans the next month for the seventh straight time.

Exemptions will go to the winner and runner-up of the Junior PGA Championship and Girls Junior PGA Championship and the winner of the U.S. Junior and U.S. Girls’ Junior. If those players are not eligible, the exemption will be given to the next highest-ranked player on the Junior Ryder Cup points list.

The top two boys and top two girls will also be selected from that Junior Ryder Cup points list. One boy and one girl will receive a captain’s pick based on several national rankings, including the Golfweek Junior Rankings.

Here are the Junior Ryder Cup points standings as of June 8, 2021 (players listed with total points):


1. Alexa Pano, Lake Worth, Fla. – 4585
2. Megha Ganne, Holmdel, N.J. – 2910
3. Sophie Linder, Carthage, Tenn. – 1490
4. Avery Zweig, Dallas – 1475
5. Paris Hilinski, Los Angeles – 1185
6. Amari Avery, Riverside, Calif. – 1171.6
7. Sara Im, Duluth, Ga., 950
8. Grace Summerhays, Scottsdale, Ariz. – 872.5
9. Kaitlyn Schroeder, Jacksonville, Fla. – 870
10. Jacqueline Putrino, Lakewood Ranch, Fla. – 770


1. Luke Potter, Encinitas, Calif. – 1930
2. Ben James, Milford, Conn. – 1610
3. Caleb Surratt, Indian Trail, N.C. – 1160
4. Wells Williams, West Point, Miss. – 1091.6
5. Nicholas Dunlap, Huntsville, Ala. – 821
6. Luke Clanton, Miami Lakes, Fla. – 770
7. Bruce Murphy, Johns Creek, Ga. – 735
8. Thomas Morrison, Dallas – 585.5
9. Sean-Karl Dobson, Austin, Texas – 580
10. Jack Turner, Orlando, Fla. – 555

 -Julie Williams

Annika Sorenstam to host girls golf clinic during U.S. Senior Women’s Open week

June 11

Calling all girls ages 6 to 14 in the Fairfield, Connecticut area: Annika Sorenstam will host a “Share My Passion” clinic during U.S. Senior Women’s Open week at Brooklawn Country Club.

The clinic will take place on Tuesday July 27. A fun detail is in the selection. Girls in the eligible age range who live in the New York City metropolitan area are invited to write an open letter to Annika telling her why they love golf, and why other girls should learn how to play. Annika and her team will then invite the authors of the 40 most-compelling notes to attend the event.

“I look forward to welcoming girls to what promises to be a very memorable ‘Share My Passion’ event at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open,” Annika said in a release. “USGA championships hold a special place in my heart and I’m excited to share their special atmosphere with clinic participants.”

The “Share My Passion” series launched in 2018 as a way for Annika to connect with girls who are just getting introduced to the game. It complements another ANNIKA Foundation initiative, which is the global series of junior invitational which serve to develop the next generation of elite golfers. Remarkably, 57 ANNIKA alumnae competed in this month’s U.S. Women’s Open.

-Julie Williams

Two new champions at Dye Junior Invitational

June 11

The Dye Junior Invitational, a second-year junior event at Crooked Stick Golf Course in Carmel, Indiana, ended June 8 with Leigh Chien and Drew Wrightson claiming victory in their respective divisions.

For Chien, the Dye is her first major title since winning the California Women’s Championship and the KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational in 2020. To start the year, Chien finished T4 at the Arizona Silver Belle Championship.

At the Dye, Chien bookended a second-round 69 – which tied for the lowest score from any player in the girls division – with rounds of 74-76 and was one ahead of Melena Barrientos and Kaitlyn Schroeder at the end of 54 holes.

The boys division was more spread out, with Drew Wrightson posting rounds of 73-70-68 to finish six shots ahead of runner-up Nick Dunlap. Wrightson, in the class of 2021, has signed a letter of intent to play for Baylor.

-Julie Williams

There’s a new No. 1 player in the Golfweek Junior Rankings

June 3

Megha Ganne is competing in an LPGA major this week, but she’s just days removed from her last win – in a junior tournament. Ganne, 17, prevailed at the Scott Robertson Memorial and has since ascended to the top spot in the Golfweek Junior Rankings. It’s her first time holding that position.

The golf world last saw Ganne at a U.S. Women’s Open qualifier in her native New Jersey. Ganne won a playoff for the second and final spot. It’s the second time she’s played her way into the nation’s championship, having also done so in 2019.

Before that? Ganne made her debut at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, though failed to make the cut at Augusta. As a four-time Drive, Chip and Putt National Finalist, something says she’ll have plenty more chances at that.

Megha Ganne

Megha Ganne tees off on the first hole during the first round of the 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans, Georgia, on March 31, 2021. (Photo: Michael Holahan/Augusta Chronicle)

Megha Ganne, Ben James claim Scott Robertson titles

May 24

A familiar name topped the Scott Robertson Memorial leaderboard over the weekend. In the girls division, Megha Ganne, Golfweek’s No. 2-ranked junior, added to her win column with a seven-shot win in the long-running junior tournament.

The win comes just two weeks after Ganne qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open for the second time in her career and two months after playing in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur but missing the cut. Ganne started the year with a third-place finish at the AJGA’s Diamond Resorts ANNIKA Invitational.

In the boys division, Ben James claimed the title with a 9-under total that was five shots better than runner-up Jack Turner. James hails from Milford, Connecticut, and finished fifth this spring at the Dustin Johnson World Junior. He has committed to play for Virginia beginning in 2022.

-Julie Williams

Rose Zhang among Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Award recipients

May 1

The Byron Nelson Championship is approaching on the PGA Tour in two weeks, but the Nelson, a five-time major champion, has a legacy that extends far past one week on Tour. Each year, the Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Awards serve to recognize junior golfers who stand out in their sport, in academics and in their commitment to their communities.

Past recipients of the prestigious award have gone on to win the Masters, U.S. Opens, and British Opens as well as NCAA National Championships and USGA amateur titles.

This year David Ford, Gordon Sargent, Jackson Van Paris, Kelly Chinn, and Rose Zhang are the 2021 Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Award recipients.

Zhang’s inclusion is particularly noteworthy considering that she becomes the first female to ever receive the award. Most recently, the 17-year-old Stanford commit contended for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur title down the stretch before competing at the LPGA LOTTE Championship later in the month.

Summerhays siblings make more noise in Korn Ferry Tour Monday qualifier

April 13

Qualifying for Korn Ferry Tour events is nothing new for 16-year-old Grace Summerhays. The junior golfer made headlines in June when she shot 76 in a KFT qualifier despite making double-bogeys on two par 5s. The course, TalonsCove Golf Course in Utah, played 7,021 yards. Those who finished at 7 under were in a playoff.

Summerhays returned to that setting on Monday, entering a Monday qualifier for this week’s MGM Resorts Championship to be played in Las Vegas.

Summerhays fired a 6-over 78, again making a double-bogey on a par 5 (No. 2) at Boulder Creek Golf Course in Boulder City, Nevada. She finished ahead of more than 10 golfers in the field, though failed to claim low Summerhays honors.

Her older brother Preston, who won the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur, posted a 6-under 66 and tied for 12th. He would have needed an 8-under 64 to advance.

All in a week’s work for the Summerhays kids, who are up-and-coming names in golf that deserve to be known.

A 17-year-old made it through Monday Qualifying for this week’s Korn Ferry Tour event

March 24

Monday qualifying for any tour event is a notoriously steep challenge. But Jonathan Griz of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, successfully played his way into the Korn Ferry Tour’s Club Car Championship this week. The 17-year-old will tee it up at the Landings Club in his native Savannah after finishing second at one of two Monday Qualifying sites this week.

Griz had a 5-under 65 ag Georgia Southern Golf Club in Statesboro, Georgia, to finish second in his qualifier, and one out of a three-way playoff for four spots.

Griz won the North & South Junior Amateur over the summer as well as the South Carolina Amateur. Most recently, he finished third at the Azalea Invitational at the Country Club of Charleston (South Carolina).

Read more on Griz here.

-Julie Williams

The sixth annual Dustin Johnson World Junior will feature 74 players ranked inside Golfweek’s top 100

March 1

The Dustin Johnson World Junior will be played for the sixth time next month at TPC Myrtle Beach, and with a field fitting for a tournament named after the reigning Masters champion. The event features a boys and girls division, and 74 of the 90 total players (60 boys, 30 girls) are ranked among the top 100 players in the Golfweek Junior Rankings.

The boys field is highlighted by Brendan Valdes of Orlando, Florida, No. 6 in Golfweek’s rankings. No. 3 Hyo Joon Jang of Howey in the Hills, Florida, highlights the girls field.

Neither of last year’s winners will be around to defend as boys champion Tyler Wilkes is playing at the University of Florida girls winner Taylor Roberts is teeing it up at Florida State.

“Dustin’s goal was to make this the best junior tournament in America, and this year represents another big step in that direction,” Tournament Director Scott Tomasello said. “This year’s event will feature one of the three strongest fields in all of junior golf, TPC Myrtle Beach is an elite facility, and with Dustin’s support, the tournament will deliver on the experiential side as well. We can’t wait for the sixth annual Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship to tee off.”

The entire field can be found here.

-Julie Williams

New junior event selected for Symetra Tour MVP Invite

Feb. 18

The Mack Champ Invitational, a new junior golf event, has been selected by the Symetra Tour as one of three tournaments showcasing minority golfers that will receive a “Symetra Tour MVP Invite” for the 2021 season. Invitees will be selected by the respective tournament’s committee and earn exemption into a designated Symetra Tour event.

The Mack Champ Invitational is named after PGA Tour player Cameron Champ’s late grandfather Mack. It honors his legacy by identifying talented, diverse players. The inaugural event was supposed to be played in 2020 at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston, Texas, but was postponed to 2021 because of COVID. The 2021 event will take place from March 19-21, and the corresponding Symetra MVP Invite will provide an exemption into the Garden City Charity Classic at Buffalo Dunes Golf Club in Garden City, Kansas, from April 30-May 2.

“We are incredibly excited and grateful for the Symetra Tour’s enthusiasm in supporting our mission with the establishment of the Symetra Tour MVP Invite. Having the ability to award a player in our field with an exemption to compete in the Garden City Classic is huge,” said Cameron Champ. “That will be a fantastic experience for one of these young players and could also lead them to many more opportunities, which is exactly what we’ve set out to accomplish with the Mack Champ Invitational – opening more doors for golfers of diverse backgrounds to have the chance to succeed in this great sport.”

The National Women’s Collegiate Golf Championship will also receive a Symetra Tour MVP Invite, with a third event yet to be determined.

-Julie Williams

Tournament opportunity: Dye Invitational

Feb. 18

The Dye Junior Invitational debuted in 2020 at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana. The 54-hole event includes a boys and girls field of 33 players each. The 2021 event will be played June 6-8.

A new name enters the realm of AJGA tournament hosts

Feb. 18

If it feels like Albane Valenzuela isn’t all that far removed from junior golf, it’s because there’s something to that thought. At 23, Valenzuela has added her name to a stacked lineup of PGA Tour and LPGA pros lending their support to AJGA events.

Valenzuela, who played collegiately for Stanford from 2016 to 2019, competed in the 2016 Olympic Games for Switzerland and was runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2017 and 2019. She earned her LPGA card in the fall of 2019 and is embarking on a “do-over” rookie season afforded by the pandemic.

As a junior golfer, Valenzuela competed for Team Europe on the 2015 Ping Junior Solheim Cup, won the 2015 Doral Publix Junior Classic and 2015 Junior Orange Bowl, and competed in the Evian Masters Junior Cup in 2012.

Now, Valenzuela’s name will remain in the junior game through the Under Armour / Albane Valenzuela Girls Championship. The inaugural event will be played at Longbow Golf Club near Phoenix, May 27-30, a day after the conclusion of the NCAA Women’s Championship across town at Grayhawk Golf Club.

The 54-hole stroke play event will feature 78 girls selected by Performance Based Entry. The tournament joins the AJGA’s all-girls lineup of the Diamond Resorts ANNIKA Invitational presented by Rolex (January), Rolex Girls Junior Championship (June), and Ping Junior Solheim Cup (August).

-Julie Williams

NCAA extends recruiting dead period

Feb. 17

In a bit of bad news for hopeful college golfers – particularly those in the Class of 2022 – the Division I Council extended the recruiting dead period for all sports through May 31, continuing the ban on in-person recruiting activities that began when the pandemic hit last spring.

The only silver lining in the latest dead-period extension was that it also included news of a return, according to the NCAA announcement.

“After careful consideration of all available information, the Council agreed that an extension of the dead period through May 31 was necessary,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “However, there is a strong commitment to use the next several weeks to outline the transition plan back to recruiting activities post June 1 and to provide those plans to prospective student-athletes, their families and the NCAA membership no later than April 15.”

Ping becomes AJGA’s first Legacy Partner, extending contract through 2030

Feb. 16

In the AJGA’s more than 40-year history, Ping has become a name synonymous with the junior golf organization. The equipment company has become the AJGA’s first Legacy Partner, which is a new level of partnership that recognizes longtime support to junior golf. The announcement, and a new contract extension, mean the AJGA and Ping will continue their relationship through 2030.

Ping first appeared as an AJGA sponsor when it hosted the Ping Myrtle Beach Junior Classic at Quail Creek Country Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – an event that ran for more than 10 years. Ping was soon supporting as many as six events per year, including the Ping Phoenix Junior which ran from 1991-2016. Its support in that area continues has continued to date with the Ping Heather Farr Classic.

“It’s a tremendous honor to become the first AJGA Legacy Partner,” said Ping Chairman & CEO John A. Solheim. “We both share a common goal of helping develop highly-skilled young golfers who aspire to compete at the college level and beyond. Our 40-year relationship includes many highlights, but I’m especially proud of the success of the Ping Junior Solheim Cup and its impact on girls’ golf.

“Its stature is elevated with each event and to see many of those participants go on to star in the Solheim Cup brings me great satisfaction and pride. With the growing popularity of golf, it’s more important than ever that we promote the values golf has to offer while bringing the game to the next generation of competitive junior golfers. We’re excited to continue that mission with our friends at the AJGA.”

-Julie Williams

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