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Akshay Bhatia
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Strong field set for 2019 Junior Invitational

Strong international field set for 2019 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – Fifty-four of the world’s best junior golfers will descend upon Sage Valley Golf Club April 25-27, 2019 to compete for the “Golden Jacket” in the 9th Junior Invitational, one of the most exclusive and competitive annual junior events. The field will include defending 2018 champion Akshay Bhatia.

Eligibility for the 54-hole stroke-play Junior Invitational is rigorous, with 17 automatic qualifiers produced from the 2018 Junior Invitational Champion, 2018 Boys Junior PGA Champion, and furthest advancing junior in the 2018 U.S. Amateur, among others. Remaining slots are filled based upon year-to-date rankings. Click here for more information about player eligibility.

Seventeen-year-old Bhatia of Wake Forest, North Carolina, donned the Golden Jacket last year after finishing 2-under 214 for the tournament. Bhatia, the first-ever back-to-back Boys Junior PGA Champion and highest-ranked member of the 2018 Boys U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team, recently elected to forgo college and turn professional when he turns 18 in 2020. He made his PGA Tour debut at the Valspar Championship last month, missing the cut by three strokes.

Joining Bhatia in the 2019 field are players who span four continents and represent 14 countries. A total of 15 players are returning to the event, with both Travis Vick (2018 AJGA Junior PLAYERS Champion) and Ricky Castillo (2018 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team and T3 in 2018 Junior Invitational) making their third and final appearances. Click here for the full 2019 field and player bios.

Other notable contenders in the field include 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur Champion Michael Thorbjornsen; 2018 R&A Boys Amateur Champion Conor Gough; and William Mouw, the second furthest and youngest advancing junior at the 2018 U.S. Amateur. 

Junior Invitational alumni who have achieved success following their participation include nine-time PGA Tour winner Justin Thomas, as well as 2013, 2016 and 2017 U.S. Amateur Champions Matthew Fitzpatrick, Curtis Luck and Doc Redman, respectively. Past participants who competed in the 2019 Masters include Emiliano Grillo (T62), Aaron Wise (17), Fitzpatrick (T21) and Thomas (T12).

For the third consecutive year, the champion and runner-up at the Junior Invitational will earn exemptions into the Boys Junior PGA Championship. The 44th Boys Junior PGA Championship will be held July 30 – August 2, 2019 at Keney Park Golf Course in Hartford, Connecticut.

Golf fans can follow the competition at www.JuniorInvitational.com. For locals, there is no charge to attend, and badges can be picked up daily throughout the tournament at the Sage Valley Golf Club entrance.

Sage Valley Golf Club is located only minutes from historic Augusta, Georgia, and is surrounded by several thousand acres of preserved southern pine forest. The Tom Fazio-designed course includes three practice “Dormie” holes, a learning center and practice facilities, clubhouse, spa and cottages. The Gun Club was introduced five years after Sage Valley opened, which includes world-class sport shooting facilities and hunting and fishing opportunities throughout the season.

The SVJI Sports Foundation was established in 2015 and is intertwined with the Junior Invitational. Since its inception, the SVJI Sports Foundation has donated more than $1 million to The First Tee chapters in Aiken, South Carolina, and Augusta, Georgia, as well as the Press On Fund, which invests in cures for pediatric cancers. 
The annual SVJI Sports Foundation Clinic will be held during tournament week on Wednesday, April 24. Approximately 50-60 boys and girls from First Tee chapters across the Southeast and high school players from Aiken and the surrounding areas will be provided free instruction from Sage Valley golf professionals and others at the Dormie holes.