As the calendar turns to the dog days of summer, competition amongst the nation’s elite juniors is just heating up – with plenty at stake. Competitors will vie for a coveted spot on the Junior Ryder Cup Team come Aug. 9 in the 41st Junior PGA Championship at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, Rhode Island.
Regarded as one of the premier events in youth golf, the Junior PGA Championship presented by Under Armour and Genesis Networks has been a building block in the careers of a number of golf ’s top performers, including: Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Lexi Thompson, Inbee Park and Michelle Wie. “We’re incredibly excited to bring the Junior PGA Championship to Wannamoisett Country Club, which is such a historic venue,” says PGA President Derek Sprague. “We’re confident that Wannamoisett will test the best youth golfers in the country and produce an exciting Championship.”
Opening just over a century ago in 1914, Wannamoisett County Club is a staple for major events in the northeastern United States that welcomes the world’s best amateurs for the annual Northeast Amateur Invitational Tournament. The facility also hosted the 1931 PGA Championship, won by 20- year-old Tom Creavy who bested both Gene Sarazen and Denny Shute for the Wanamaker Trophy.
By day’s end Aug. 12, two more young guns just like Creavy will look to become part of the historic club’s championship lore as they compete for the Patty Berg and Jack Nicklaus Trophies. “I think this will be a great showcase for the club and for our membership to see the best boys and girls in the world compete on a true Donald Ross classic,” says Brad McCluski, PGA head professional at Wannamoisett. “It should be a fantastic week. I know the staff and the members are both looking forward to it.”
Last year’s finish at Miramont Country Club in Bryan, Texas, was full of drama, as Oklahoman Brad Dalke and Californian Elizabeth Wang captured playoff victories to win. After firing a Championship-record 62 in the opening round, Dalke, who is now a member of the University of Oklahoma golf team, went bogeybogey on the closing holes to finish at 6-under-parfor the championship and tied with Wilson Furr of Jackson, Mississippi. The two went back to the par-5 18th hole, where Dalke took advantage of a three-putt par by Furr and two-putted for birdie to win his final championship as a junior golfer.
In the Girls’ Division, Wang also needed extra holes to clinch victory. With an attitude adjustment after squandering victory during regulation, Wang stuffed her third shot to two feet on the 18th hole and knocked in the birdie to defeat Mariel Galdiano of Pearl City, Hawaii, and hoist the Patty Berg Trophy. She’ll look to defend her title at Wannamoisett on Aug. 9. Along with the rest of the field at the Championship, Wang will also be competing in the final qualifying event for the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team. The two 2016 Junior PGA Champions, along with runner-ups, will all earn a berth on the team, who is set to compete against top European youth players on Sept. 26–27 at Interlachen Country Club.
With all that’s on the line at Wannamoisett this month, the 41st Junior PGA Championship is an exciting addition to an already action-packed summer of golf. Golf Channel will air one-hour highlight shows of the Championship on Sept. 14, at 8 p.m., Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. and Nov. 23 at 3 p.m., ET.