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Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship Writes Its Own Success Story

3 Jan, 2021

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Golf – one of the few sports that actually grew during the pandemic – will see a showcase of its future leaderboard stars in March as the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship Presented by Fujikura hits Myrtle Beach. The sixth annual iteration of this highly successful event is expected to take place March 5-7, 2021 at TPC Myrtle Beach.

The event, one of the world’s leading junior championships, will host just under 100 youth from across the nation.

Chris King, in charge of tournament communications, notes, “This will be the strongest field in the event's history. Every player in the field - boys and girls - are ranked among the nation's top 100 juniors. The Dustin Johnson World Junior has quickly grown into one of the strongest junior golf events in America.”

Dustin Johnson is well known in the golf industry for his dedication to the junior sector, and for working to advance the game.

“Dustin continues his commitment to creating the best junior golf tournament in the world, and over the past five years we have taken great strides toward achieving this goal,” said Scott Tomasello, Golf Tourism Solutions’ Tournament Director. “The competitive field has reached a level that rates among the best junior tournaments in the country, and with TPC Myrtle Beach once more providing one of America’s premier golf courses to test their games, we’re excited to see what the 2021 edition brings.”

“Dustin is extremely passionate about his event and honored the tournament has grown so quicky,” said Allen Terrell, Tournament Chairman. “He is looking forward to meeting all of the participants this coming March. DJ loves TPC Myrtle Beach and personally knows the course will produce a great champion.”

The year 2020 may be in the rear-view mirror but COVID continues to be a concern – and will be, until a vaccine is available to all. But, says King, all safety measures are being taken for this event.

“Everything will be outside and designated spots on driving range will allow for at least six feet of distance, among other things. Fortunately, golf is a socially distant game by nature!”

The 90-player field has attracted many of the nation’s and world’s premier juniors to compete in a 54-hole stroke play format. Past Dustin Johnson World Junior champions of note include 2019 boys’ champion Akshay Bhatia (World Amateur Golf Ranking as high as 4) of Wake Forest, North Carolina, who has competed on victorious U.S. teams in the Junior Presidents Cup (2017), Junior Ryder Cup (2018) and Walker Cup (2019) and has since turned professional and competed in eight PGA TOUR events earning a T9 finish in the 2020 Safeway Open.

2017 boys’ champion Trent Phillips (WAGR 56, as high as 30) has quickly become a star in the collegiate ranks. The University of Georgia sophomore was named as a First-Team All-SEC selection in his 2019-2020 season and earned a First-Team All-American nod by PING and the Golf Coaches Association of America.

Phillips, along with Alabama sophomore and fellow 2017 Dustin Johnson World Junior competitor Canon Claycomb, is on the Fall 2020 Watch List for the Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel, awarded annually to the most outstanding men’s college golfer as voted on by players, coaches and media members. Past Haskins Award Winners include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw and last season's winner, Pepperdine's Sahith Theegal.

In the girls’ division, 2018-2019 champion Alexa Pano (WAGR 42, as high as 19) of Lake Worth, Florida, went on to represent the U.S. on the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup and 2019 Junior Solheim Cup teams, and in 2019 compete as the youngest player in both the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the U.S. Women’s Open.

LSU sophomore Latanna Stone, a three-time Dustin Johnson World Junior competitor (2017-2019) who earned a runner-up finish in 2019, is on the Fall 2020 Watch List for the Annika Award presented by Stifel, awarded annually to the most outstanding women’s college golfer as voted on by players, coaches and media. Past winners of the Annika Award include Leona Maguire, Alison Lee, Maria Fassi and last year's winner, Furman's Natalie Srinivasan.

With the support of Johnson, the world’s top-ranked player, the 54-hole tournament will provide players a PGA TOUR-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, the General Hackler Championship, the 2020 NCAA Men’s East Regional, 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.

Johnson’s involvement with the tournament reflects his long-time 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 at the Dustin Johnson Golf School, Johnson has donated more than $450,000 to junior golf, sponsoring numerous events throughout the state and helping cover golf expenses for kids who need financial assistance.

At present, no economic impact report has been done, says King. However, the event has numerous sponsors to help allay costs and provide the excellent experience competitors enjoy. Additional sponsors include Adidas, RBC, Hambric Sports Management, TaylorMade, Revels Tractor, the Dustin Johnson Foundation, the Dustin Johnson Golf School, Founders Group International, Golf Tourism Solutions,  and TPC Myrtle Beach.

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