SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For the fifth consecutive year, teams representing California and Georgia will meet in the final match of the PGA Junior League Golf National Championship presented by National Car Rental.
Dreams of redemption are now well within reach for 2015 National Championship runner-up Team Georgia (Alpharetta), which dominated the Ryder Division with a 3-0 record and 24.5 total points. Georgia won its third consecutive match Sunday to clinch a spot in the National Championship match, defeating Team Alabama 7 to 5.
Team Georgia Captain Tom Joyce Jr., PGA, and coach Terry Peacock are both all too familiar with the feelings they’re experiencing heading into the final day of play.
“It was really tough last year, coming down to a playoff situation, for one shot to decide it all,” said Joyce Jr., recalling last year’s scintillating National Championship final, in which Team Georgia narrowly lost to Team California (Southern California) on a 35-foot birdie putt by Krando Nishiba on the first extra hole.
Six out of 10 Georgia players competed in last year’s final, but this is 14-year old Michael Dotson’s third straight trip to the PGA Junior League Golf National Championship. He also competed with PGA Professional Chuck Scoggins’ Team Georgia out of Hamilton Mill Golf Club (Dacula), which also finished runner-up to Team California (San Ramon) in 2014.
“That’s part of the message we talked about with the team this morning,” said Peacock. “Win it for Michael. He’s tried and worked so hard for it.”
Sunday, 13-year-old Jake Peacock’s bunker shot on Hole No. 9 came within 6-inches to seal a key point, while teammates Will Morlan, 14, and Dotson, earned an eagle on Hole No. 3.
“Today’s match was a true test,” said Peacock. “It really helped the kids focus and take every shot seriously.”
In the Wanamaker Division, Team California (Livermore) met Team Connecticut for the afternoon matches, with the winner moving on to Monday’s Championship round. With the rain falling, California secured a 8.5 to 3.5 win.
The third California pairing of the day – Ian Gilligan, 13, Ethan Jaehn, 12, and super sub Madison Wu, 13 – was on fire, needing a mere 11 putts over nine holes. Wu fought off an illness earlier in the day to play three holes in the afternoon match.
“She just made putts,” said Team California Captain Jeff DeBenedetti, PGA. “It was the best she played all weekend.”
Drew Kim, 13—who sent his team to the 2016 National Championship after sinking the final putt during the PGA Junior League Golf Western Regional at Chambers Bay in September—also played on California’s National Championship team in 2012, at age 9.
In other matches, Team New Jersey shot an incredible 31-under par over 36 total holes against Team Illinois to secure a 10 to 2 win. New Jersey will face Team Ohio for third place, thanks to a chip-in on the last hole by Ohio’s Gaege Gobezie.
Meeting for fifth place will be Team Connecticut and Team Texas. Team Alabama and Team Illinois will play for seventh place on the front nine of the Raptor course.
Matches are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.
National Championship Match
Team Georgia vs. Team California
3rd Place Match
Team Ohio vs. Team New Jersey
5th Place Match
Team Texas vs. Team Connecticut
7th Place Match
Team Alabama vs. Team Illinois
Ryder Division – Day 2
Georgia (Alpharetta): 3-0
Ohio (Columbia Station): 2-1
Texas (Cedar Park): 1-2
Alabama (Huntsville): 0-3
Wanamaker Division – Day 2
California (Livermore): 2-0-1
New Jersey (Hillsborough): 1-0-2
Connecticut (Cromwell): 1-1-1
Illinois (Lemont): 0-3-0
Past PGA Junior League Golf National Championship Results
2015: Team California (San Diego) – Playoff (1st hole)
Disney’s Palm Course (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.)
2014: Team California (San Ramon)
TPC Sugarloaf (Duluth, Ga.)
2013: Team Georgia (Atlanta)
TPC Sugarloaf (Duluth, Ga.)
2012: Team California (San Francisco)
Cog Hill Golf & Country Club (Lemont, Ill.)
NOTE: Golf Channel to Air PGA Junior League Golf National Championship presented by National Car Rental Special on Nov. 29 in Primetime. PGA of America, Grayhawk Golf Club and National Car Rental have partnered with Golf Channel to air a two-hour, primetime special of the 2016 PGA Junior League Golf National Championship presented by National Car Rental Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT—with a rebroadcast later that night at 12 a.m. ET/9 p.m. PT.