AJGA Junior Players: 10 players to watch

The 2014 Junior Players Championship begins Friday at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The 54-hole event, which concludes Sunday, will be played on the Players Stadium Course, site of The Players Championship. Seventy-eight junior golfers from 18 countries are set to participate in the AJGA invitational tournament.

Past winners of the event, now in its eighth year, include current PGA Tour player Morgan Hoffmann, former Alabama standout Bobby Wyatt and current Alabama sophomore Robby Shelton.

Who will hoist the trophy this year? Here are 10 candidates:

• • •

Zachary Bauchou

The Oklahoma State commit might fly under the radar at these invitationals, but if his T-2 finish last year at TPC Sawgrass is any indication, he’ll likely be among the contenders come Sunday.

• • •

Sam Burns

There arguably isn’t a hotter junior golfer in the country right now than Burns, who is coming off a victory at the Junior PGA and made match play at the U.S. Amateur. The LSU commit also won his first AJGA invitational earlier this summer, at the Rolex Tournament of Champions, and was runner-up at the Sunnehanna Amateur.

• • •

Austin Connelly

Connelly tied for second last year, his best Junior Players finish to date, after closing with a 1-under 71 on the Stadium course. He recently contended at the Junior PGA and notched his first AJGA invitational victory earlier this summer at the FJ Invitational.

• • •

Brad Dalke

Dalke nearly won this tournament two years ago and was T-14 last year. The Oklahoma commit has already won three AJGA invitational titles. He also “aced” the par-3 17th hole during a practice round earlier this week – it was on a second tee shot, though.

• • •

Wilson Furr

This will be Furr’s first Junior Players appearance, but the youngster has the game and physical build to handle the Stadium course.

• • •

Will Grimmer

Grimmer competed at this year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst and made a deep run into match play at the U.S. Junior. The Ohio State commit doesn’t hit it very far, but he has already proven he can overcome his lack of length.

• • •

Gordon Neale

Neale shot 77-73-78 last year and was T-25 in 2012, but is coming off of a runner-up finish at the Junior PGA. He can make a lot of birdies, so if he avoids trouble, he could go low.

• • •

Davis Riley

Twice a U.S. Junior runner-up, Riley, an Alabama commit, doesn’t have a top 10 yet at the Junior Players, but that could change this year.

• • •

Jacob Solomon

The Auburn commit opened with an 84 last year, but shot 75-74 after that. If he can avoid the big numbers, he has the game to post a good finish.

• • •

Andy Zhang

Zhang has come a long way since he competed at the 2012 U.S. Open. He’s a much better player now, both physically and mentally. He made it to the quarterfinals of match play at the U.S. Junior earlier this summer and also won the 2014 AJGA Thunderbird International Junior.

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