LOUISVILLE, KY. – The 43rd Boys Junior PGA Championship kicks off on Tuesday, July 31, at Valhalla Golf Club, with an impressive field of 144 of the top junior players age 18 and under from around the country.
Returning to defend his record-setting title is 2017 Boys Junior PGA Champion Akshay Bhatia, of Wake Forest, North Carolina.
One of golf’s major championships for juniors, the Boys Junior PGA Championship is where the best in the world get their start including: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, 2017 PGA Champion and Louisville native Justin Thomas, 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard, David Toms and Scott Verplank.
2018 BOYS JUNIOR PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
- Where: Valhalla Golf Club
- When: July 31-Aug. 3
- Defending Champion: Akshay Bhatia, 16, broke the 24-year total scoring record set by Pat Perez. Bhatia’s performance included a record 61 in the second round.
- The Field: Among the 144-player field are 60 players committed to play collegiate golf. Five Kentuckians, including three Louisville natives (see below), are set to compete.
- U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team: At the end of play, six boys will be selected to join six of the top playing girls on the 2018 United States Junior Ryder Cup Team at Disneyland Paris.
- Admission: Free to the public with complimentary parking on site
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Akshay Bhatia, Wake Forest, North Carolina
The Defending Champion virtually rewrote the entire record book en route to winning the 2017 Boys Junior PGA Championship. Bhatia, 16, has also won the prestigious 2018 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley and smashed event records at the 2018 AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic. Bhatia was a member of the 2017 U.S. Junior Presidents Cup Team and sits atop the 2018 Boys U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team standings. He is ranked No. 1 for the Class of 2020 by Golfweek. Bhatia is home schooled.
Ricky Castillo, Yorba Linda, California – Castillo, 17, is the 2018 AJGA Heather Farr Champion. In 2017, he advanced to the round of 32 in the U.S. Amateur; and the round of 16 in the U.S. Junior Amateur. Castillo currently sits in second place in the 2018 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup standings. He is a University of Florida commit.
Canon Claycomb, Bowling Green, Kentucky
A Kentucky native, Claycomb, 16, is the 2017 PING Invitational champion and a member of the 2017 Junior Presidents Cup Team. He competed in the 2018 Australian Amateur and is currently in third place in the 2018 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup standings. Claycomb is committed to the University of Alabama for the Class of 2020.
Homecoming – 5 Kentucky natives are in the field: Bowling Green’s Canon Claycomb, an Alabama commit; Owensboro's Daniel Love; and Louisville’s Campbell Kremer (great-grandson of Valhalla Golf Club Founder Dwight Gahm), Kentucky commit Jay Kirchdorfer, and LSU commit Drew Doyle (grandson of Kentucky golf legend Moe Demling).
Jake Beber-Frankel, Miami
The son of Academy Award and Emmy Award winning Director David Frankel (directing credits include Devil Wears Prada , Marley & Me, Band of Brothers and Entourage), Beber-Frankel, 16, is one of the most colorful junior players, with his impressive long, flowing hair. His twin sister, Phoebe, is also a top junior player and often caddies for him.
His grandfather, Max won a Pulitzer Prize for his New York Times coverage of President Nixon’s trip to China in 1973. Jake Beber-Frankel is a Stanford commit for the Class of 2020.