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Preview: 2019 Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship

The signs are going up, the greens and fairways being groomed at an immaculately conditioned TPC Myrtle Beach, and the stage is set for an exciting competition this week at the Fourth Annual Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship. Let’s take a closer look at what we can look forward to at the 2019 edition of this prestigious event.

Last year’s boys champion Michael Brennan, a junior out of Leesburg, Virginia, returns to defend his title against a stacked field. The boys’ field features nine players in the top 50 of a major national ranking, including (graduation year in parentheses):

  • Connor Creasy (No. 14 by Golfweek) of Abingdon, Virginia (2019);
  • Austin Greaser (No. 21 Golfweek) of Vandalia, Ohio (2019);
  • Tyler Wilkes (No. 22 Golfweek) of Tampa, Florida (2020);
  • Yuki Moriyama (No. 23 Golfweek) of Las Vegas, Nevada (2020), a top 10 finisher in the 2018 Dustin Johnson World Junior;
  • George Duangmanee (No. 30 Golfweek) of Fairfax, Virginia (2020), a local qualifier for last year’s event who went on to earn a top 10 finish;
  • Gavin Noble (No. 32 Golfweek) of Ringgold, Georgia (2019), a Coastal Carolina signee;
  • Luke Clanton (No. 33 Golfweek) of Miami Lakes, Florida (2022);
  • Nick Dunlap (No. 45 Golfweek) of Greer, South Carolina (2020); and
  • Drew Doyle (No. 42 by Junior Golf Scoreboard) of Louisville, Kentucky (2020)

Also expected to make some noise this week is Jonathan Griz (2022) of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, the state’s top-ranked boys junior player who captured the 2018 Bobby Chapman Junior Invitational.

On the girls’ side, Alexa Pano of Lake Worth, Florida (2022) returns to defend her title against the likes of:

  • Ashley Menne (No. 9 in the nation by Golfweek), a junior from Surprise, Arizona, who earned a runner-up finish in 2018;
  • Jensen Castle (No. 33 Golfweek), a senior from West Columbia, South Carolina, the state’s top-ranked girls player who finished seventh in 2018; and
  • Smith Knaffle, a senior from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, a University of South Carolina signee and three-time 4A state champion for St. James High School

“As with the boys’ competition, the girls’ title can really be anyone’s tournament to win,” said Scott Tomasello, tournament director. “There are lots of top-100 possibilities who can contend, and it will make for an exciting competition all around.”

Also worthy of note:

  • The 2019 player field featured 23 boys and 16 girls who have achieved a top 100 placement in a national junior golf ranking.
  • About one-third of this year’s field is already signed to play collegiate golf. Among the NCAA Division I schools represented in 2019 are Duke, North Carolina, LSU, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, Southern California, Clemson, Coastal Carolina, Michigan, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and North Carolina State.
  • 2016 Boys’ Champion Blake Taylor has gone on to compete in a PGA TOUR event, the 2018 Greenbrier Classic.
  • 2017 Boys’ Champion Trent Phillips, playing collegiately at the University of Georgia, is now the top-ranked freshman collegiate golfer in the country.