GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – In three years of the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club, only rookies have come away victorious.
Past champions Zachary Olsen (2012) and Carson Young (2013) each won in their first attempt, joining inaugural winner Nicholas Reach (2011) as first-time winners at the South Carolina golf course.
This year’s 54-player field includes 34 rookies.
Second-year participant Zachary Bauchou doesn’t think newcomers have any real advantage. He believes the fourth player to win the tournament this year will have executed his plan to the fullest.
“Whether a player is coming out here for the fourth time or the first time, the player that does that (stick to their strategy) will win the golf tournament,” Bauchou said.
Another second-time participant Derek Castillo, ranked No. 65 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings, said first-time players have a edge, adding, “I do think it’s an advantage to have a year under my belt here, but as a rookie, no one is expecting you to do well because it is so tough course.”
Castillo and Bauchou finished T-21 and T-36, respectively, in 2013.
Cameron Young, a 16-year-old from Scarborough, N.Y., has taken on help from his caddie as he makes his first start in the Junior Invitational. Young added that his caddie has given him help reading greens and lines (for iron play) into the greens.
On top of no returnees winning, no international player has yet to breakthrough at the par 72, 7,245-yard course. The only returning international player who finished in the top 10 from 2013 is Dominic Foos of Germany.
Other players, Argentina’s Alejandro Tosti, Texas signee Doug Ghim, Brad Dalke of Hobart, Okla., and Sam Horsfield are playing in their third Invitational.
So, why no returnee victors? It’s a question with no definitive answer. But we could see the first this year.