GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – No. 6 at Sage Valley is the epitome of risk-reward.
On Saturday at the Junior Invitational, Loblolly Bay -- a 336-yard par-4 -- was playing at 300 yards as the tees were moved up tremendously from yesterday’s first round.
In the second round, the hole played at an average of 3.76.
On one hand, Jacob Joiner of Albany, Ga., hit the green from the tee and two-putted for birdie, meanwhile Jamie Lopez Rivarola of Argentina had one of two double bogeys on the hole during the second round.
Joiner isn’t a long hitter. He can usually hit his driver 275 yards in the air. In this case, he decided to take a full driver. He aimed it right over the bunkers on the right hand side and it cut perfectly. It ran up on the green to 20 feet. Joiner missed his eagle attempt, but tapped in for birdie.
“It was a risk, but I felt very confidence with my driver today,” Joiner said.
Lopez Rivarola is the exact opposite of Joiner; he’s a long hitter. Instead of using driver, he used 3-wood and pushed it right off the tee. Trees are lined down the ...
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – Limping into the clubhouse is not a signature Rico Hoey move. This 17-year-old, who posted a smooth 69 in the opening round of the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, is suave. He just couldn’t keep the pace in Round 2
“Yesterday and today felt like night and day,” Hoey said of his 1-over 73 on Saturday. He had three bogeys and a birdie in his final five holes and is at 3-under 141 for the tournament.
Hoey, dressed in a black shirt and grey pants for Round 2 and with a stud in each year, was visibly worn slick after a day spent chasing leader Sam Horsfield. But Horsfield, at 5 under, still is within striking distance for Hoey, at 2 under. The two played together on Saturday as Horsfield posted 71.
“Watching him play, I thought I could feed off him,” Hoey said, but he never could get comfortable over his putter. Hoey had four three-putts in his round and battled a few tricky hole locations. He walked off the 18th green on a cloudy evening ready to recharge for the final round.
If Hoey, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., does stage a successful comeback tomorrow ...
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – Sam Burns can speak to the difference one golf club can make, especially after his favorite one was laid to rest at the end of Friday’s first round at the Junior Invitational. In Burns’ case, the death of his 8-iron led to back-to-back double-bogeys to finish the round.
Burns, a 16-year-old from Shreveport, La., was 2 under after 16 holes, but put his drive in a fairway bunker at Sage Valley’s par-4 17th. He used the 8-iron to punch out into fairway, but the club handle snapped off as a result of that punch. Suddenly Burns was down to 13 clubs, his confidence shaken.
After making double at the 17th, Burns stood in the middle of the fairway at No. 18 with caddie Adam Emery and tried to judge the wind. He wanted to hit 6-iron, but Emery talked him into scaling back. Burns’ 7-iron approach went long, he hit the chip fat, then three-putted for another double-bogey. Burns wonders if having a healthy 8-iron could have made a difference but, to his credit, didn’t dwell on the situation.
“(I tried) to look at the positives,” Burns said. “I was 2, 3 under all ...
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – If Russell Henley could give any player advice it would be, “See yourself where you want to be.”
Victor Wiggins knows exactly where he wants to be in late August. He’ll see himself at Auburn after signing at letter of national intent on April 20.
“I committed 2 and 1/ 2 years ago, so I’ve been counting down the days (to sign),” Wiggins said.
Henley, who was the guest speaker at Nike Night at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, and Wiggins, will have taken the same road to college golf. Neither player can be claimed off the AJGA’s hotbed of players.
Henley played local events in and around his hometown of Macon, Ga. Wiggins, a Gastonia, N.C., native, plays on the National Junior Golf Tour, a tour run by his father, Allen and all around North and South Carolina. Both have played some invitational tournaments.
Wiggins didn’t know Henley didn’t play AJGA events until he said that during the Q&A session on Friday.
“It was nice for him to talk and hear him speak,” Wiggins said. “It was pretty cool.”
It gives Wiggins more confidence to make it to ...
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. –– Austin Connelly held a share of the lead at the Junior Invitational early on Friday, but come the end of the round, he was just happy to finish.
"I'm not in great shape," said Connelly, who shot 4-over 76 and is T-26 after the first round. "I woke up this morning and my throat hurt really bad. I didn't have a lot of energy. Thursday night, I was very shaky and weak, had a fever and I just didn't feel well."
Connelly, who won the Under Armour/Hunter Mahan Championship last week in McKinney, Texas, was given some antibiotics on Thursday night, and they seemed to do the trick early – he was 1 under through his first five holes.
But he recorded five bogeys the rest of the way, including bogeys on each of the last three holes, to fall out of the lead.
"The medicine helped me until about (hole No.) 13 and then I just crashed," Connelly said. "I was sitting down on tee boxes, every chance I got to sit. Tried to drink as much water as possible. Come (Nos.) 16, 17 and 18, I was just beat."
After taking more ...
A look at the second-round groupings and tee times at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley:
9 a.m.: Alejandro Tosti, Won Jun Lee, Emil Sogaard
9:10 a.m.: Jeremy Grab, Nicollo Galletti, Danny Guise
9:20 a.m.: Tae Wan Lee, Jose Montano, Ki Taek Lee
9:30 a.m.: Jan Szmidt Jr., Zachary Bauchou, Michael Pisciotta
9:40 a.m.: Victor Wiggins, Carl Yuan, Alexander Matlari
9:50 a.m.: Dominic Foos, Zachary Olsen, Adam Wood
10 a.m.: Davis Riley, Patrick Kelly, Romain Langasque
10:10 a.m.: Rigel Fernandes, Austin Connelly, Jacob Joiner
10:20 a.m.: Max Orrin, Andrej Bevins, Jorge Garcia
10:30 a.m.: Thomas Lim, Peter Kim, Cameron Champ
10:40 a.m.: Max Greyersman, Maximilian Mehles, Dylan Wu
10:50 a.m.: Robby Shelton, Aaron Wise, Sam Burns
11 a.m.: Doug Ghim, Austen Truslow, Matt Gilchrest
11:10 a.m.: Brad Dalke, Benjamin Griffin, Gordon Neale
11:20 a.m.: Carson Young, Jack Maguire, Derek Castillo
11:30 a.m.: Greyson Sigg, Austin Langdale, Kyle Sterbinsky
11:40 a.m.: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Corey Pereira, Kristoffer Ventura
11:50 a.m.: Sam Horsfield, Rico Hoey, Jaime Lopez Rivarola
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – The lesson of the afternoon Friday at Sage Valley came courtesy of a slender Englishman. An unassuming Matthew Fitzpatrick had the first-round lead at the Junior Invitational for most of the afternoon, until going 4 over on the final two holes.
He went into the scoring tent smiling and he came out smiling, and then he spoke casually of the chunked chip and four ensuing putts that sent him from 4 under on the day to 1 under.
“Into the grain is not my forte,” said Fitzpatrick, an 18-year-old Northwestern commit from Yorkshire, England.
Fitzpatrick is No. 12 in the World Amateur Rankings and the player with perhaps the best chance at a (GB&I) Walker Cup bid of anyone in the field. He had five birdies plus an eagle at the par-4 13th, and had gotten it to 5 under by the time he stepped up to the 17th tee. Bogey there left Fitzgerald comfortably in the lead before his triple-bogey finish inflated his score to 1-under 71. Still, Fitzpatrick, the reigning British Boys champion, didn’t lose so much ground that he can’t make it up. He is three shots behind solo leader Sam ...
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – Benjamin Griffin made history at the Junior Invitational on Friday.
Griffin, a native of Chapel Hill, N.C., had a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th for the first time in the tournament.
The 16th played at 217 yards in the first round at Sage Valley. He was between a hybrid and 4-iron. He and his caddie decided to go with a 4-iron after the wind had died down.
He wanted to fly it 210 yards. His 4-iron is his 205-yard club, so he had to put something on it.
“I just tried to hit it as hard as I could,” Griffin said.
Griffin just wanted to aim to the center of the green, but instead his ball landed just short of the green and it trickled in.
“I didn’t see it go in,” Griffin added.
The crowd went crazy, and the roar was heard as far at the 18th fairway.
This is Griffin’s third hole-in-one of his career. He has had two this year, but this was his first in a competitive round.
Griffin finished the day with a 2-over-par 74 and is tied for 14th.
• • •
PENALTY:Two weeks after amateur/junior Tianlang Guan was ...
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. -– By the time the marquee group arrived at Sage Valley’s second hole on Friday morning, there already was a three-group backup. The hole – downhill over water to a small green surrounded by pine straw – can be a monster. Add a stiff, head-on wind, and the second tee became a parking lot.
The hole, which played about 185 yards on Thursday, averaged nearly a stroke over par for the 54-man field. That included one sextuple bogey, four quadruple bogeys, three triple bogeys and seven doubles. Only six players made birdie.
One of those quadruple bogeys belonged to Kristoffer Ventura, an 18-year-old from Oslo, Norway, who plays only three stateside events per year. Ventura, in his first trip around Sage Valley since Wednesday, pulled a 6-iron for his tee shot but dumped it in the water. He went to the drop area with a wedge, but put that ball in the water, too.
“It was probably the wrong club, but I hit a bad shot,” Ventura said of that 6-iron shot. Walking off the second green, Ventura knew there were many holes left to play, but was just hoping for some pars to salvage the round. Starting at ...
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – The Junior Invitational is unique in its limited, elite field and has built itself around a desire to provide the very best experience in junior golf. Sage Valley Golf Club is a manicured course in a golf mecca, and one that every player will traverse this week with his own personal caddie. Their bellies full of fried chicken and sweet tea, players should leave this week with an idea of what it's like to be among the top caliber of Tour players.
Among that glitz at Sage Valley is a significant nod to growing the game, which is where the First Tee comes in.
The Junior Invitational is now in its third year of existence, and in that time, the number of First Tee participants who were granted spots in the competitor-am (played Wednesday and Thursday of tournament week) has grown from 20 local juniors to 72 national players.
Russ Krueger, a tournament organizer, says this portion of the tournament happened by accident in 2011, but it has taken a firm hold. Krueger, a Sage Valley member since 2002, was filling spots in the competitor-am, and had many members who wanted to write a check for ...
Jack Maguire paid close attention earlier this week as his older brother, M.J., a sophomore at North Florida, won his first collegiate individual title at the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Ga.
Jack couldn't attend the tournament – even though Braselton is just less than three hours from Sage Valley – but he followed the action online. He was glued to the online scoreboard on Tuesday as M.J. shot 68 en route to becoming the Ospreys' first conference medalist in school history.
"It's his first college win," said Jack, who also mentioned that M.J. likely won't make the trip with their parents to Sage Valley to root on his younger brother. "He's always been up there and been finishing top 10 a lot lately. I've been playing really well, just haven't had a big win yet, so (M.J. winning) that really does inspire me."
Like M.J., Jack, who signed to play at Florida State this fall, has posted several solid finishes in the past year. He most recently finished T-8 at the Azalea Invitational. He also recorded top 10s at the FootJoy Invitational and Rolex Tournament of ...
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – Selecting the field for any highly ranked event is difficult. So many players deserve to be here, but only a few are selected. The Americans are the easiest players to invite because they are in our backyard, but did you ever wonder how the Junior Invitational executive committee selects the international field?
Since its inception three years ago, the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley always went to the governing bodies of different countries to select the field. Those countries always sent their list of names, but the executive committee felt that there could be a better way to identify the world's best.
It started with Travis Thompson, an executive-committee member for the Junior Invitational, started researching how to find the top players from Europe, Asia and South America.
Thompson talked to different college coaches to see what players they were recruiting and which tournaments were the ones to watch.
In December 2012, the executive committee decided to start with the field at the Junior Orange Bowl in Miami. They handed out six invitations at the tournament. Junior Orange Bowl champion Patrick Kelly received one.
From there, the committee invited players who played on their respective Junior ...
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – Every caddie in the Sage Valley shack wanted Greyson Sigg’s bag this week, but neither Sigg nor looper Bernard Dent know exactly how they ended up together. Neither had a say in the partnership, but as veteran caddie Dent noted, it could be a fairly easy week.
Call Sigg, an 18-year-old from Augusta, Ga., the most knowledgeable player in the 54-man field at the Junior Invitational. Sigg has been caddieing at Sage Valley since 2009. He’s mostly needed for an influx of play during Masters week, but the club also has his number for the member-guest event.
Sigg is a stocky Georgia commit with brown curls sticking out from under his ball cap and a boat load of southern charm. As he walked to the first tee Thursday morning for his final look at the course before the tournament starts, he acknowledged several men in white jumpsuits. As a fellow member of his competitor-am group put his opening tee shot in pine straw left of the first fairway, Sigg let out a piercing whistle to stop the other caddies already walking ahead so the player could punch out.
“I know they all wanted me,” Sigg ...
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. -- Zachary Olsen became the second winner of the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley last year when he won by three shots for his first national junior tournament victory.
He’ll look to add another Gibbs Trophy this year in what could possibly be his final junior tournament before starting at Oklahoma State in the fall.
“It’s really cool (to be back as the defending champion),” Olsen said. “Sage Valley is obviously a special place regardless of how I played last year, but it’s nice to come back and see all the places where I had special moments and stuff.”
Olsen said not much has changed since he won a year ago. He knows his way around this golf course a little better, although a newly redesigned par-4 17th hole and added length to the par-4 18th stood out to the Cordova, Tenn., native.
“No. 17 is completely different,” Olsen said. “I was looking at my yardage book and I just basically chucked any (previous) information out on No. 17.”
But despite familiarity with Sage Valley, Olsen is not a lock to win again. He’s ranked No. 35 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings and ...
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