The fourth annual Junior Invitational at Sage Valley begins Thursday. Of the 54 players in the field, there are 35 Americans and 19 internationals.
Golfweek staffers Lance Ringler, Brentley Romine, Cassie Stein and Julie Williams take a closer look at the field and make predictions for the 2014 tournament:
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FAVORITE: Jorge Garcia. He tied for 10th at the 2013 Junior Invitational and is no stranger to winning big events. Garcia, a 2015 graduate who has given a verbal commitment to play college golf at Florida, won the 2013 AJGA Thunderbird Invitational. Garcia, a native of Venezuela, also won the Venezuelan Amateur and the South American Junior Championship. He is coming of a win in his last start at the AJGA TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Innisbrook.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Sam Horsfield. Winner of more tournaments than we have room to list, Horsfield tied for second at the 2013 Junior Invitational. He is known for being able to go deep into red numbers and a low round this week could go a long way.
SLEEPER: Aaron Terrazas. He advance to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Junior Amateur last summer and has a knack for being near the top. Maybe this week could be a breakout week for the 24th-ranked junior in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings.
INTERNATIONAL PICK: Dominic Foos. One of the top juniors in Europe, Foos is making his second start at the Junior Invitational, where he tied for 10th a year ago. He also finished second at the Junior Orange Bowl in December, which was his last start in the U.S.
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FAVORITE: Sam Horsfield. The Florida commit and Davenport, Fla., native tied for second last year at the Junior Invitational, so he knows a thing or two about contending here. He has the ability to go low and won’t get rattled on a tough Sage Valley course.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Scottie Scheffler. He’s not the longest player in the field, but he’s probably the most consistent. The 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur champ and Texas signee is Golfweek‘s top-ranked junior, so he’ll have quite a few pairs of eyes on him this week.
SLEEPER: Wilson Furr. The 15-year-old from Jackson, Miss., made match play at both the U.S. Junior and Polo Golf Junior Classic last year and is starting to make a name for himself on the junior-golf circuit. Don’t be surprised if he contends at Sage Valley.
INTERNATIONAL PICK: Jorge Garcia. OK, so Garcia lives in South Florida, but has Venezuela listed on his bio in the official event program. The Florida commit is coming off a victory at the AJGA TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Innisbrook on Sunday, so he has momentum.
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FAVORITE: Jorge Garcia. The 2015 Florida commit will be playing for the second consecutive year at Sage Valley. Last year he finished T-10 and earned an automatic invite. Over the last year, Garcia has shown that he play on the big stage as he played in the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open in 2013, and won last week at Innisbrook Resort. Momentum is on his side.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Robin Dawson. He hails from Waterford, Ireland, and won four tournaments last year. Dawson, a tall, strong 18-year-old, has yet to make a name for himself in the U.S., so this is a great week to make his presence known.
SLEEPER: Cameron Young. He’s probably one of the best players in the class of 2015, but flies under the radar in most tournaments he plays in because of the other players in his class, including Sam Horsfield, Sam Burns and Jorge Garcia.
INTERNATIONAL PICK: Alejandro Tosti. It’s his third year playing at Sage Valley and he’s due for his first victory on U.S. soil. He won five times in 2013 and is currently the No. 1-ranked junior in Argentina. He knows the course well enough and has the game to win this event.
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FAVORITE: Brad Dalke. I continue to be impressed by Dalke’s poise and work ethic. Now 16, he’s beginning to look more like a linebacker than a golfer. Extra strength will help him around Sage Valley as long as he effectively navigates the greens – something he has already identified as crucial to success here.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Sam Burns. I’m still surprised Burns hasn’t won an AJGA invitational yet – those tournaments feature elite fields and are played on difficult courses. Burns was in the conversation here a year ago after a second-round 68. Another year of experience and wisdom could give him a long-overdue big victory.
SLEEPER: Corey Shaun. As a first-time participant in the Junior Invitational, Shaun gave a pre-tournament interview brimming with excitement. Shaun has won three AJGA titles and is ready for a bigger victory. The key will be in stripping that nervous energy and playing with confidence.
INTERNATIONAL PICK: Dominic Foos. Finished in the top 10 a year ago and earned a return trip. Foos is well-traveled, has great golf culture and should feel at home in the Southeast after arriving early to watch the Masters earlier this month.