One of golf’s major junior championships returns when the 45th Boys Junior PGA Championship tees off at Kearney Hill Golf Links in Lexington, Kentucky, July 12-15. In 2020, due to rising COVID-19 concerns, the Boys and Girls Junior PGA Championships were canceled.
A field of 144 top male junior golfers will compete for the Jack Nicklaus Trophy featuring three of the top 10 junior players: No. 3 Nick Dunlap, No. 4 Ben James and No. 7 Caleb Surratt. Additionally, 45 golfers committed to play at the collegiate level are in the field, as well as eight Kentucky natives.
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 Championship set a historic precedent with new records in eight categories. Jack Heath’s record final round 62 won the 44th Boys Junior PGA Championship with a dramatic 40-foot birdie putt at Keney Park Golf Course in Hartford, Connecticut.
Players to Watch at the 2021 Boys Junior PGA Championship:
Aidan Tran - Fresno, Calif.
Tran, a Georgia Tech commit, was the 2020 AJGA Longbow Golf Club Open Champion and runner-up in the 2020 AJGA Callaway Golf Junior Championship. Tran also competed in the 2020 Bobby Chapman Junior Invitational where he finished among the top five.
Allan Kournikova - West Palm Beach, Fla.
Featured in the Netflix Special “The Short Game,” Kournikova is the 2020 Bobby Chapman Junior Invitational runner-up. He is the brother of professional tennis star Anna Kournikova.
Ben James - Milford, Conn.
James is currently the No. 1 ranked player in the Junior Ryder Cup standings. In 2020, he was named to the Rolex Junior All-America Team. James is committed to play golf at the University of Virginia.
Jonathan Griz - Hilton Head Island, S.C.
In 2020, Griz won the North & South Junior Amateur. That same year, he became the youngest champion of the South Carolina Amateur Championship. The University of Alabama commit is the No. 1 ranked junior golfer in South Carolina.
Lincoln Melcher - Burbank, Calif.
Melcher is a professional actor known for his role in “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014),” “Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (2018)” and “Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016).” He won the AJGA Callaway Golf Junior Championship at The Farms. In 2021, Melcher was one of four players selected to represent Southern California in the Junior America Cup. He is a UCLA commitment.
Matthew Doyle - John's Island, S.C.
This is Doyle’s first appearance in the Boys PGA Junior Championship. Despite battling a hip disorder known as Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, Doyle won both the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship and the Connecticut PGA Junior Championship in 2020. He is committed to Elon University for the class of 2025.
Wells Williams - West Point, Miss.
Currently, Williams is ranked No. 5 on the Junior Ryder Cup standings. In 2020, he was named to the Rolex Junior All-America First Team and claimed the Callaway Golf Texas Junior Open. Williams is a class of 2026 Vanderbilt University commit.
Nick Dunlap - Huntsville, Ala.
Dunlap is currently ranked No. 2 in the Junior Ryder Cup Standings and No. 3 by the AJGA. He was a medalist at the 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur. He won the 2021 Dustin Johnson World Junior in March. Dunlap has verbally committed to play at the University of Alabama.
8 Kentucky Natives in the Field:
Zach Watterson, Richmond, Ky. - T-1 at Kentucky Section Junior PGA Championship
Rylan Wotherspoon, Florence, Ky. Won both Knollwood and Rome AJGA Open events; University of Cincinnati commit
Rocco Zakutney, Paducah Ky. - Made U.S. Open sectional qualifier appearance in Atlanta
Matthew Troutman, Louisville, Ky. 2020 AJGA Robinson Champion
Luke Coyle, Campbellsville, Ky. - Finalist for 2021 DCP National
Jackson Finney, Louisville, Ky. - Team Kentucky All-State, 2020
Cayden Pope, Lexington, Ky. - Auburn University commit
Hayden Adams, Lexington, Ky. - 2020 Kentucky Junior Amatuer Champion
The 45th Girls Junior PGA Championship will be played at Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky, July 27-30. Yuka Saso won the 2019 Girls Junior PGA Championship at Keney Park Golf Course in Hartford, Connecticut.