HARTFORD, Conn. – The Jake Beber-Frankel show is definitely worth the price of admission.
After Tuesday’s 10-under par all-time Championship scoring record of 60, Beber-Frankel added an encore 5-under par 65 in the third round of the 44th Boys Junior PGA Championship at Keney Park Golf Course, to break a few more of Akshay Bhatia’s legendary records.
After 54 holes, Beber-Frankel, 17, of Miami, stands at 18-under par (67-60-65 192). The 192 total shattered Bhatia’s 199 scoring mark from 2017—by seven strokes.
“I definitely never had to ‘bounce back’ from a 60 before,” said Beber-Frankel, with a smile. “It was a fun experiment to see what happened.”
In a relation-to-par comparison, Beber-Frankel also topped Bhatia’s 17-under par 54-hole record by one stroke. (Beber-Frankel is playing on a par-70 at Keney Park. Bhatia played a par-72 at The Country Club of St. Albans near St. Louis two years ago.)
Keep in mind that this is in an event that has seen Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and countless other Tour players compete in as juniors.
First Round Co-Leader and Second Round Leader Canon Claycomb, 17, of Bowling Green, Kentucky (62-64-68 194), overcame some early speed bumps—he bogeyed Hole Nos. 2, 5 and 9—to crank up five birdies on the back nine, including two to close out, on Hole Nos. 17 and 18, for a right-the-ship, get back into contention, two-under par 68.
Suddenly, the Alabama Crimson Tide recruit found himself back in red numbers for the day, and just two strokes off the lead at 16-under par for the Championship.
“Before the start of the Championship, Jake and I talked about what number it would take to win,” said Claycomb, who played on the 2018 United States Junior Ryder Cup Team. “I said 22 [under par], and he said something like 23.”
Needless to say, Bhatia’s 72-hole Championship record of 266 is well within reach.
Beber-Frankel recorded eight birdies on the day versus two bogeys, including one on the par-4 369-yard No. 17 that brought his score back closer to Earth, as well as the rest of the field.
“I had a five-shot lead on Canon with two holes left, made one bogey, and now it’s a two-shot lead,” said Beber-Frankel, who is the son of Academy Award and Emmy Award winning Director David Frankel (Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me, Entourage, Band of Brothers); and the grandson of Max Frankel, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his New York Times coverage of President Nixon’s trip to China in the 1970s. “I think I have to go really low tomorrow.”
And like any good movie plot, there’s others who are knocking on the door.
One shot behind Claycomb is Andy Mao, 18, of Johns Creek, Georgia, who delivered a six-under par 64 (64-67-64 195) to stand in third, at 15-under par. Notre Dame recruit Palmer Jackson, 18, of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, recorded his own 64 (66-66-64 196) to sit in fourth place, four strokes back.
In a three-way tie for fifth place five shots off the lead at 13-under par are: USC commit Jackson Rivera, 16, of Rancho Santa Fe, California (65-67-65 197); Jack Heath, 17, of Charlotte (65-64-68 197); and first-round co-leader Timothy Magcalayo, 16, of The Philippines (62-68-67 197).
Drew Doyle, 17, of Louisville, Kentucky, recorded a hole-in-one on the par-3, 151-yard Hole No. 6 with a 9-iron. The LSU commit had the low round of the day, with a 62.
“I was on Cloud 9 after it, but I was able to focus on my shots even though it was still in the back of my mind," said Doyle.
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, Justin Thomas, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard, David Toms and Scott Verplank. The 2019 field features 144 of the top junior players age 18 and under from around the country.
Friday’s final round will start at 7 a.m. PGA President Suzy Whaley will present the Jack Nicklaus Trophy to the Champion following play.
News & Notes
Golf Recruiting Season
With a field of 144 of the top junior players, more than 50 colleges have had their coaches at Keney Park Golf Course seeking the next great recruit this week. Among the many notable schools on hand were Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Oklahoma, North Carolina and UCLA.
Nine Players from the Nutmeg State
Having a homecoming week is nine Connecticut natives competing in the Championship.
Ben James, 16, Milford, Conn. – 67-69-64-200 T-10
Christopher Fosdick, 18, Middlefield, Conn. – 71-66-68 205 – T24
Will Lodge, 15, Darien, Conn. – 70-66-69-205 T-24
Alex Aurora, 18, Hamden, Conn. – 70-67-69-206 T31
William Celeberti, 18, Ridgewood, N.J. (Born in Greenwich) – 69-71-73 T69
Jonathan Elkins, 18, S. Deerfield, Mass. (Born in Hartford) – 78-71-149–Missed cut
Alexander Gu, 17, Darien, Conn. – 70-72 142 – Missed cut
Tyler Woodward, 18, Durham, Conn. – 75-78-153 – Missed cut
Jeremy Yun, 16, Old Saybrook, Conn., and Menlo Park, Calif. – 75-74-149 – Missed cut
Next Year in Port St. Lucie
The 2020 Boys and Girls Junior PGA Championships will be played at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida. PGA Golf Club is owned and operated by the PGA of America.