SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Having captured a national title three years ago, it was no surprise for undefeated Team California (San Diego 4-0-0) to clinch the Ryder Division title Sunday at the 7th PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental at Grayhawk Golf Club.
However, an undefeated sleeper team in Team Minnesota (Blaine 4-0-0) caught virtually everyone by surprise in clinching the Wanamaker Division title. The two divisional champions are scheduled to face off Monday afternoon at 1:50 p.m. MT for the national title on the Raptor Blue Course (back nine).
Team California’s Ryan Abuan, 14, of Temecula; and Phillip Kench, 14, of Del Mar, each came within a whisker on their final hole Sunday afternoon of carding a birdie on all nine holes against Team Ohio. Instead, Abuan and Kench settled for eight straight birdies, one par and a starring role in helping Team California secure the top spot in the Ryder Division.
“I really wanted that putt on the last hole,” Kench said of narrowly missing a 15-foot downhill putt for a ninth birdie. “We just each burned the edge on both sides.”
Following a strong win of 10-2 against Washington, California defeated Ohio in the afternoon, 8-4.
“It was a really good round,” Abuan added about the overall day. “We got off to a hot start. The parents cheering gave us a lot of energy. We’re on a roll…we’re a strong team.”
Team Minnesota came away with wins against Illinois in the morning and Arkansas in the afternoon, both by 8-4 counts.
“We got off to a fast start in the morning versus Illinois,” said Team Minnesota Captain Jay Norman, PGA. “We took the first four flags. They came back, but we closed it out on the last three holes. Arkansas played us tough in the afternoon. We were biting our nails until the last two holes.”
Team Minnesota = 4 and 0 pic.twitter.com/Ssl8YE0C7W— PGA Jr. League (@PGAjrLeague) November 19, 2018
Thanks to a coldsnap back home, Minnesota has had to turn its golf practice schedule on its top to prepare for the Championship. “We hadn’t played on a golf course since October 28," Norman explained. "We practiced at Topgolf once a week.”
Regardless of their practice schedule or location, it’s evident that this team has chemistry… and will carry their confidence into tomorrow’s sessions.“We’re the surprise team of the national tournament,” said Norman. “Nobody’s ever heard of us. Maybe we can sneak up on Team California, too.”
Ohio (Columbia Station 2-1-1) and Louisiana (Shreveport 2-1-1) will go head-to-head in the morning for the right to face either Texas (Montgomery 3-1-0) or Georgia (Duluth 2-1-1) for third-place Monday afternoon.
If Texas wins or ties versus Delaware (Wilmington 0-3-1), Texas will advance to the third-place round, thanks to Texas’ upset of Georgia 7 ½ to 4 ½ on Sunday afternoon. Should Texas lose on Monday morning, it would potentially open the door for last year’s Champion Team Georgia to have a shot at the third-place match.
However, Georgia will have to face Division Champ Minnesota in the final divisional section match in the morning. The match will serve as a tune-up for Minnesota prior to their afternoon Championship date with California, who will face Connecticut (Harwinton 0-4-0) in the morning to close out the team’s divisional play.
The 7th PGA Jr. League Presented by National Car Rental is being held at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, Nov. 16-19. The Championship continues with Monday morning's fifth and final divisional session. Afterwards, the top four teams will play in Monday afternoon’s Championship session, with the top two teams in each division (California and Minnesota) playing for first and second place; and the two second-place teams from each division playing for third and fourth place.
Live scoring, stories and updates can be found here.
For a video of both Steph Curry and Alex Morgan joining as PGA Jr. League Ambassadors this weekend, please click here.
MORE: Final scores
Ryder Division Standings (as of Sunday, Nov. 18)
*California (San Diego): 4-0-0 Record, 33.5 Points
Ohio (Columbia Station): 2-1-1 Record, 28 Points
Louisiana (Shreveport): 2-1-1 Record, 25.5 Points
Virginia (Dulles): 1-1-2 Record, 24 Points
Washington (Bellingham): 1-3-0 Record, 19.5 Points
Connecticut (Harwinton): 0-4-0 Record, 13.5 Points
*Clinched Division Title
Wanamaker Division Standings (as of Sunday, Nov. 18)
*Minnesota (Blaine): 4-0-0 Record, 31.5 Points
Texas (Montgomery): 3-1-0 Record, 30 Points
Georgia (Duluth): 2-1-1 Record, 29.5 Points
Illinois (Lemont): 1-2-1 Record, 22.5 Points
Delaware (Wilmington): 0-3-1 Record, 17.5 Points
Arkansas (Hot Springs): 0-3-1 Record, 13 Points
*Clinched Division Title
News & Notes!
BIG AMBASSADOR NEWS
Golden State Warriors All-Star and two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry and Olympic Gold Medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion Alex Morgan were just named the newest PGA Jr. League Ambassadors. They join Ambassadors Rory McIlroy, Michelle Wie, Rickie Fowler and Lexi Thompson, all of whom are committed to growing youth golf.
For a video of the announcement of Steph Curry and Alex Morgan becoming PGA Jr. League Ambassadors, please click here.
GOLF CHANNEL COVERAGE
Each of the last two years, PGA REACH, Grayhawk Golf Club and National Car Rental have worked together with Golf Channel to air a two-hour, primetime special highlighting the event. This year’s show will debut on Dec. 4, airing at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and 12:30 a.m. ET/9:30 p.m. PT.
NATIONAL CAR RENTAL SUPPORT
Presenting Partner National Car Rental hosted a fun and relaxing reception at Topgolf Saturday night that was open to all Championship players and their families.
MEET OUR CUB REPORTER WARREN FISHER!
The off-course star of the show is PGA Jr. League golfer Warren Fisher, 11, of Riverton, Utah. Fisher has been an onsite correspondent and cub reporter for social media and Golf Channel reports. The suave and debonair son of PGA Professional Annie Fisher, Warren serves as a junior ambassador for PGA Jr. League, with his fun and hilarious updates from the Championship. Fisher regularly hosts "The Warren Report" for the Utah PGA Section. He dreams of being the next David Feherty as an on-air sportscaster. He also talks about becoming President of the United States one day. His political goals are why he regularly wears a bow tie and is dressed to the nines in a tailored suit.
Below are PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental yearly results:
Year Champion Score Host Facility/Location
2017 Georgia (Duluth) 6 ½ to 5 ½ Grayhawk Golf Club (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
2016 California (Livermore) 8 to 4 Grayhawk Golf Club (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
2015 California (San Diego) Playoff (1st hole) Disney’s Palm Course (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.)
2014 California (San Ramon) 7 to 5 TPC Sugarloaf (Duluth, Ga.)
2013 Georgia (Atlanta) 6 ½ to 5 ½ TPC Sugarloaf (Duluth, Ga.)
2012 California (San Francisco) 8 ½ to 3 ½ Cog Hill Golf & Country Club (Lemont, Ill.)