Gavin Hall hasn’t played much golf these past two years. A right wrist injury, two surgeries and the New York winter have made sure of that.
“I just haven’t gotten to play a solid year of golf,” Hall said.
But despite all the time away, the Pittsford, N.Y., native remains one of the favorites this weekend as he attempts to repeat as champion of the Junior Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Hall first had arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist in March 2011. After a three-week recovery, Hall was cleared to play again, but in June, he re-injured the wrist practicing and missed most of the summer, including last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur. He returned for the Junior Players last August and his victory there earned him an invite to the Nationwide Tour’s Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open.
But the wrist troubles still hadn’t gone away. He missed the cut in Jacksonville after shooting 75-73 and decided a second surgery was needed. He had that second surgery to repair a ligament tear in January, and didn’t play again until earlier this month – he was T-13 at the Junior PGA and won the New York State Junior Amateur for the third time.
He’ll hope to continue that success at one of golf’s best venues: the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
“That golf course is always tough,” Hall said. “I drove it really well last year and it’s going to take the same thing again this year, just getting from fairway to green and playing to my strengths.”
It seems like Hall has done nothing but play well in the little time he has been on the course. Now with a healthy wrist, he’ll get more opportunities to showcase his talent. After the Junior Players, Hall will play for the U.S. in the Junior Ryder Cup next month. He’ll then enroll early at UCLA in January to get a head start on classes and get out of the Northeast for the winter.
“You see a lot of guys do that in different sports,” said Hall, who will redshirt this spring before joining the Bruins squad next fall. “It’ll be a great opportunity to get out of the climate I’m in. It’s the right decision. I can continue to play and get ahead in school, which will make the next four years more stress-free.”
But first, he’ll get another crack at the Junior Players.
“I’ve been working really hard,” Hall said. “I’m fully healthy and excited to be playing again.”
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• SHORT SHOTS: Wake Forest signee Davis Womble of High Point, N.C., shot 1-over 214 to cap his junior career with a victory at the CorseMax/Philadelphia Runner Junior Aug. 19-21 at White Manor Country Club in Malvern, Pa. He trailed by three shots entering the final round, but a 2-under 69 vaulted him into the top spot and earned him not only his last AJGA win, but his first one, as well. “I’ve had several other chances to win in AJGA tournaments but haven’t pulled through, so it’s a good victory,” Womble said. “It’s a nice bonus to win right before I leave for college.” . . . Matthew Lowe of Farmingdale, N.Y., made birdies on both playoff holes to oust Brian Carlson and win the Genesis Junior Open Aug. 21-23 at Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club in Bedminster, N.J. Lowe, who finished at 3-under 213, placed second at the event last year. “It is awesome to know I can do it,” Lowe said. “I was talking to myself all day, giving myself positive encouragement.” . . . Nicholas Scrymgeour of Cochrane, Alberta, won his first AJGA title, shooting 3-under 210 to claim the Sunriver Junior Open Aug. 21-23 at the Sunriver (Ore.) Resort’s Meadows Course. . . . Mason Weld of Helotes, Texas, shot an even-par 210 to win the Junior All-Star at Townsend Ridge Country Club Aug. 21-23 in Townsend, Mass., and record his first AJGA victory.