Jackson Koivun, Ryleigh Knaub Cruise to Victory in 2023 Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship
Jackson Koivun (Chapel Hill, N.C.) and Ryleigh Knaub (Debary, Fla.) earned two-stroke victories in the Eighth Annual Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship presented by LA Golf at TPC Myrtle Beach.
America’s No. 1 ranked junior boy, Koivun entered Sunday with a three-shot lead and extended his cushion to as many as five before making bogey on the par-3 17th hole and double bogey on No. 18. Even with the late stumble, Koivun finished the tournament at 5-under par and was never seriously threatened down the stretch.
He shot an opening round 67 and led wire-to-wire.
Second place finisher Rowan Sullivan (Charleston, S.C.) shot 72 and was 3-under for the tournament, one stroke ahead of Maxmilian Jelinek (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) and Ethan Paschal (Fayetteville, N.C.)
Knaub entered the final round with a three-stroke lead and shot 73, finishing the 54-hole event at 3-under par, two clear of Alice Ziyi Zhao (Irvine, Calif.). Knaub birdied two of the first four holes, pushing her margin to five, before encountering turbulence on holes five through eight, where she made three bogies to trim her lead.
She settled down to shoot even par 36 on the back and never allowed Zhao to get closer than two strokes over the closing holes.
Zhao, the only girl in the field that never shot a round over par, finished at 1-under and was three strokes ahead of third place finishers Chloe Kovelesky (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Madison Messimer (Myrtle Beach, S.C.). Anna Davis (Spring Valley, Calif.), the reigning Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion, finished fifth at 3-over.
Forty of the tournament’s 54 boys were ranked among America’s top 100 juniors by either Golfweek or Junior Golf Scoreboard (JGS), while 28 of the 36 girls were top 100 players.
The boys field was headlined by Jackson Koivun (Chapel Hill, N.C.), an Auburn signee who is the nation’s No. 1 junior, according to Junior Golf Scoreboard, and fourth-ranked Nicholas Gross (Downingtown, Pa.).
Anna Davis (Spring Valley, Calif.), who won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and is the ninth ranked junior in the world, led the girls field, along with Macy Pate (Winston-Salem, N.C.), Golfweek’s 15th ranked junior and a Wake Forest signee.
New to this year’s tournament was a co-ed team event, designed to mirror the type of competition players will enjoy at the collegiate level. Team Prieto, captained by Nicholas Prieto and including Maxmilian Jelinek, Chloe Kovelesky, Ryleigh Knaub and Noah Kent, won the team competition with a team score of 5-over par, defeating second-place Team Williams captained by Connor Williams and including Boston Bracken, Adam Miller, Madison Messimer and Anna Howerton.
With the support of Johnson, the top-ranked golfer in the world in each of five years from 2017 to 2021, the tournament provides players a pro golf-like experience and the opportunity to test themselves against some of the game’s best juniors.
A significant part of the event’s appeal is TPC Myrtle Beach, one of the Grand Strand’s most decorated layouts. TPC Myrtle Beach has hosted the Senior PGA Tour Championship and been ranked among “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” by Golf Digest, making it an ideal venue to test golf’s rising young stars.
The event’s past boys champions are: 2016 – Blake Taylor (East Carolina), 2017 – Trent Phillips (Georgia), 2018 – Michael Brennan (Wake Forest), 2019 – Akshay Bhatia, 2020 – Tyler Wilkes (Florida), 2021 – Nicholas Dunlap, 2022 – Ben James (Virginia). The previous girls winners are: 2016 – Delaney Shah (Louisville), 2017 – Skylar Thompson (Ohio State), 2018, 2019 – Alex Pano, 2020 – Taylor Roberts (Florida State), 2021 – Jacqueline Putrino, 2022 – Katie Cranston (Auburn).
Johnson’s involvement with the tournament reflects his longtime commitment to junior golf, particularly in South Carolina, where he grew into one of the world’s best players. Through the Dustin Johnson Foundation, which is headquartered in Myrtle Beach, Johnson has donated more than $500,000 to junior golf, sponsoring numerous events throughout the state and helping cover entry costs for kids who need financial assistance.
The Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship is being sponsored by Founders Group International, the Dustin Johnson Golf School, and Golf Tourism Solutions.