By the time the U.S. Juniors roll around, it’s easy to choose tournament favorites by scanning the top girls and boys in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings. However, as history has shown us, they are not the only ones to play well at USGA championships.
Here are a few players you may not have heard much about, but you shouldn’t be surprised to see make match-play runs this year.
David Flynn, Elk Grove Village, Ill.: Flynn barely sneaks inside the top 1,000 in the Golfweek Junior Rankings, but his track record at the U.S. Junior Amateur barely qualifies him as an underdog next week at Egypt Valley.
In 2006, Flynn became the third-youngest player in U.S. Junior history to advance to match play when he grabbed the 64th seed as a 13-year old. The only players to advance at a younger age (since 1990, when this stat emerged) were Jonathan Moore and D.J. Trahan.
Flynn also finished inside the top 100 in medal play in 2007 (T-99) and 2009 (T-72), and the Midwesterner could be poised for his first deep run into match play in Michigan.
Flynn has not played in many AJGA events, instead sticking to local junior competition. He won the Class 2A Illinois State High School Championship in 2008 and he finished sixth in 2009, still leading his Wheaton Academy Warriors to a state title.
The incoming Carlton College freshman won his Oswego, Ill., qualifier by four shots over Charlie Marshall.
Kyle Wilshire, Georgetown, Ky.: Two players were able to break par at the Bowling Green, Ky., qualifier. One was Justin Thomas, one of Golfweek’s top 15 juniors and the champion of the 2009 FootJoy Invitational.
The other was Wilshire, No. 177.
Thomas came in at 4-under 140 and Wilshire was right on his heels, just one shot back. The rest of the field didn’t fare quite as well, as the next closest competitor was seven shots behind Wilshire.
The UCF-bound Wilshire is also coming off a win at the Kentucky Junior Amateur championship, which he claimed on July 8 with a closing 5-under 67 at Lindsey Golf Course.
Earlier in the summer, Wilshire finished T-28 against one of the best junior fields of the year at the FootJoy Invitational.
Nicholas Scott, Union, Ohio: No one was within six shots of Scott at the Washington, Pa., qualfier, as the Northmont High School senior finished at 9-under 135.
Scott, No. 163 in the Golfweek Junior Rankings, is putting together an impressive season on the AJGA circuit. He grabbed his first AJGA title on July 2 at the Nemacolin Junior Classic, and took third the following week at the Coca-Cola Junior Championship, losing to Joey Garber (a top-30 junior).
Scott won a playoff to get into last year’s U.S. Junior, where he finished T-127.
Scott will be playing this year without the stress of college recruiting hanging over his head, as he gave Kent State a verbal committment on Thursday.
Local underdog: Brian Burt, Holt, Mich.: Burt, who took second behind Richard Jung at the Grand Rapids qualifier, is from Holt, Mich., just 1 hour and 20 minutes from Egypt Valley.
Burt, a senior at Holt High School, shot even-par 144 at Cascade Hills Country Club to finish six shots behind Jung, No. 29 in Golfweek’s rankings.
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Megan Khang, Rockland, Mass.: Khang entered last year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior as the youngest player in the field (11 years, 8 months). She’s grown up a lot since then.
Khang, one of only two 12-year-olds in this year’s field, shot 73 at Kernwood Country Club to take medalist honors at the Salem, Mass., qualifier.
Khang, who is ranked No. 691 by Golfweek, won the 2009 World Series of Junior Golf by five shots and played with Camilo Villegas in the Deutsche Bank Championship Pro-Am at TPC Boston. Their team, which consisted of the three-time Tour winner and three juniors, shot 20-under to win the event.
Also playing in the Salem qualifier was Allisen Corpuz, the other 12-year-old that will be teeing it up at the Country Club of North Carolina next week. She shot 78 to earn a trip to Pinehurst.
In 2008, Corpuz became the youngest player to compete in a USGA Championship, when she teed it up at the Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at the age of 10.
Katherine Gravel-Coursol, Mirabel, Quebec: Winning a USGA qualifier by nine shots is impressive enough, but it’s almost unheard of when that qualifier is only 18 holes.
Gravel-Coursol grabbed the top spot at the Victor, N.Y., qualifier with a 3-under 70, leaving the rest of the field well behind her. Alison Keely was the second-place finisher at 79.
Gravel-Coursol has a win this year on both the Canadian Junior Golf Tour and Quebec’s Provincial Junior Tour, along with two more Provincial Tour top 5s. She also won last year’s CN Future Links Quebec Championship.
Ranked No. 445 in the Golfweek JuniorRrankings, Gravel-Coursol could be ready for a break-through showing at the Country Club of North Carolina.
Local Underdog: Taelor Rubin, Raleigh, N.C.: Rubin is used to being an underdog – a product of playing on the boys’ golf team since the eighth grade.
A native of Raleigh, N.C., Rubin will make the 1 hour, 20 minute drive to Pinehurst after shooting 73 at Ford’s Colony Country Club to tie for second place. Rubin was named a first-team All-State golfer in North Carolina in 2009, and she has experience at the U.S. Girls’ Junior, albeit a T-141 finish last year.
Rubin is ranked No. 235 by Golfweek.