SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — After the first two sessions of play for the 2016 PGA Junior League Golf National Championship presented by National Car Rental at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, last year’s runner-up, Team Georgia, took a big first step toward claiming yet another division title—racing to a 2-0 record in the Ryder Division.
Myles Jones, 14, of Suwanee, Georgia, sunk key putts from as far away as 10-feet in both matches, to pace the Georgia squad.
“The team played great,” said Team Georgia Captain Tom Joyce Jr., PGA Director of Player Development for Crooked Creek Golf Club in Alpharetta. “They executed the plan we put in place during the practice round.”
In the Wanamaker Division, where each team played only one match and enjoyed a bye for the other half of the day, Team Connecticut leads with a 1-0 record, after defeating Team Illinois 7.5 to 4.5.
“We pulled off the win, but it was hard-fought,” said Team Connecticut Captain and PGA Vice President Suzy Whaley, PGA, LPGA, who has coached her team to a third straight appearance in the National Championship. “Our team hung in there, and I was proud of them. If one hit a bad shot, the other pulled it off.”
In the Ryder Division, Team Ohio ended the day with a 1-1 record. A loud roar was heard across the course from Hole No. 3, when Ohio’s Ben Basta, 14, of Hudson, holed out from 60 yards for eagle.
“The kids loved it, and we’re very proud of them,” said Team Ohio Captain Jim Wise, PGA. “I heard Ben’s shot and the reaction from the hole behind them, it was incredible.”
Back in the Wanamaker Division, Team New Jersey and Team California had a bit of an unexpected ending to their first match: a nail-biting tie. The second team off the tee for each played their nine holes at a scintillating 9-under for New Jersey; and 6-under for California. New Jersey’s Calen Sanderson and Owen Rossman combined for an eagle on No. 9, setting the stage for an eventual draw.
“This was a great match,” said Team California Captain Jeff DeBenedetti, PGA. “I warned the team that everything would be very close, because everyone’s playing their absolute best out here.”
Competing in its record fourth National Championship, Team New Jersey is quite familiar with competing at a high level of play. “We’re a scrappy bunch,” said Captain Anthony Latham, PGA. “We scrape, and we claw. We did what we had to do to pull out a tie.”
The teams will resume play on Sunday for Day 2 at 8:30 a.m., with the Ryder Division playing one match each and the Wanamaker Division playing two. Standings will determine the order of the National Championship matches scheduled for Monday.
For the PGA Junior League National Championship presented by National Car Rental, teams play nine-hole matches in a two-person scramble format for competition, with Captains allowed to substitute players every three holes, so that all team members can participate. Points are awarded based on number of holes won, and final division standings are determined by overall record of matches won, tied and lost.
Ryder Division – Day 1
Georgia (Alpharetta): 2-0
Ohio (Columbia Station): 1-1
Texas (Cedar Park): 1-1
Alabama (Huntsville): 0-2
Wanamaker Division – Day 1*
Connecticut (Cromwell): 1-0
California (Livermore): 0-0-1
New Jersey (Hillsborough): 0-0-1
Illinois (Lemont): 0-1
Note: The Wanamaker Division teams each had a bye on Friday, Nov. 19, and therefore only played one match each.