Golfweek International Junior Invitational: Christina Surcey tops Jessica Guiser in playoff to win girls title; Zhengqian Li wins by one in boys division

Christina Surcey needed a playoff to secure her win.

ORLANDO – Christina Surcey’s par on the second playoff hole lifted her to a victory over Jessica Guiser in the girls division of the Golfweek International Junior Invitational at Eagle Creek Golf Club.

Surcey, a high school junior from Cartersville, Georgia, fired rounds 66-70–136 on the par-73 layout, but still needed to sink a 15-foot downhiller for birdie on the final hole of regulation to force the playoff. Guiser, who trailed Surcey by four shots with 10 holes to play before mounting a furious rally, finished with rounds of 68-68–136. Both players bogeyed the first playoff hole, and when Guiser failed to get up-and-down for par on the second playoff hole, Surcey notched the victory.

On the 18th green, Surcey admitted she did not know for sure where she stood.

“I thought it might be for second place. If I would have known, I probably wouldn’t have made it.”

After Guiser bogeyed the eighth, she fell four shots back of Surcey, then she followed that up with an eagle at the par-5 ninth. She then engineered a 3-shot swing in her favor at the 13th and 14th thanks to a birdie of her own and back-to-back bogeys by Surcey, putting the two in a deadlock. Guiser’s birdie at the 17th gave her the one-stroke advantage which set up the drama on 18.

“We were back in forth all the time, and I just kept keeping track (of the score) in my head,” Surcey said.

Sabrina Kim finished alone in third with rounds of 68-70—138, followed by Hsin Tai Lin (70-70—140) and Logan Hale (71-69—140) who tied for fourth place.

Surcey, coached by Bill Hassell at Cartersville Country Club, is keeping her college search open with many options she chooses not to reveal now. “I’m really just trying to get as many good tournament scores in as possible. But I am looking at a couple specific schools.”

In the boys division, Zhengqian Li followed up an opening round 3-under 69 with a 68 to finish at 7 under and one shot clear of JP Odland at Celebration Golf Club. Li was the only player in the filed to post both rounds in the 60s.

2022 Golfweek International Junior Invitational
Zhengqian Li won the boys division of the 2022 Golfweek International Junior Invitational. (Photo: Golfweek)

Li gave credit to his coach for a good game plan that he executed well enough to win.

“Play to the safe sides and if I make birdie, that’s a birdie. If it does not, it’s a par. And I did pretty well with that,” said Li.

Li, who is ranked No. 49 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings, came into the week with the goal of a top-three finish.

“My irons were really good, I hit a lot of greens, but my putting was not that great,” said Li, who is a 2025 high school graduate.

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Eric Lee, Kaitlyn Schroeder named American Junior Golf Association’s Rolex Players of the Year for 2022

The teams were determined exclusively through the Rolex AJGA Rankings as of October 12.

Eric Lee of Fullerton, California, and Kaitlyn Schroeder of Jacksonville, Florida, were named the 2022 American Junior Golf Association’s 2022 Players of the Year, it was announced Thursday.

Lee is the first boys junior from California to earn the honor since 2010, and Schroeder the first girls junior from Florida since 2009. They are both first-team Rolex Junior All-Americans, as well, with their distinctions.

Lee, 17, did not finish outside the top 10 in seven national junior golf events to end the season at No. 1 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings. He won the season-opening Rolex Tournament of Champions at PGA National. He advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur at Bandon Dunes. Lee is committed to Cal.

Schroeder, an Alabama commit, had two wins and three top-five finishes. Her wins came at the 31st Rolex Girls Junior Championship at The Loxahatchee Club and the Girls Junior PGA Championship at Cog Hill. She advanced to the round of 32 at the U.S. Girls’ Junior in Kentucky.

Kaitlyn Schroeder
Kaitlyn Schroeder was named the 2022 AJGA Player of the Year. (Photo: AJGA)

The Rolex Junior All-America Teams annually recognize the best junior golfers from around the world. The 2022 class includes 48 boys and 48 girls, ages 14-19, from 24 states and 10 countries. The teams were determined exclusively through the Rolex AJGA Rankings as of October 12.

Lee, Schroeder, and the 2022 Rolex Junior All-America Teams will be honored through the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet on Saturday, Nov. 19.

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Team North Carolina wins 2022 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship

The kids from the Tar Heel state came out on top.

The 2022 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship came down to Team North Carolina and Team California, with the kids from the Tar Heel state coming out on top, 7 ½ to 4 ½.

North Carolina earned its first win in the event, with the duo of John John Santospago, 13, of Charlotte, and Miles Russell, 13, of Pinehurst, clinching the title on the 17th hole.

Playing 332 yards, the drivable par 4 proved to be the pivotal spot at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. Santospago drove the green while Russell’s tee shot came up short of the green. But the duo chose to play from Russell’s spot, which meant chipping on, instead of a downhill putt from about 60 feet away.

“We thought with the wedge shot we had, we could put that closer than the putt,” Russell said. “With the putt, the best we could have done was 10 feet at best coming down that mound. The wedge shot was pretty simple.”

2022 PGA Jr. League Championship
Davis Wotnosky of Team North Carolina hits his shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the 2022 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo: Darren Carroll/PGA of America)

After chipping on, Santospago poured in a three-foot putt for birdie, while California’s Kenyon Kahler, 13, and Mia Clausen, 12, both of Carlsbad, couldn’t match.

Team Florida won the third-place match, 8 ½ to 3 ½ over Team Illinois. Team Utah, which one the event in 2021, came in fifth. Utah’s team featured Tony Finau’s son, Jraice, 10, and nephew, Jordan Ofahengaue, 12.

The PGA of America reports that about 70,000 boys and girls are involved in the PGA Jr. League.

“This is a great event,” said Finau. “I was really blown away by the production and presentation of it all. This is something that my son will definitely play in the future, and hopefully, we will have that opportunity next year.”

The Raptor Course at Grayhawk will be the site of the 2023 NCAA Championships in May for a third year in a row but this was the final year for the PGA Jr. League Championship at the venue after six events, as it will move to the PGA of America’s Fields Ranch at PGA Frisco in Frisco, Texas.

Final standings

  1. Team North Carolina (Charlotte)
  2. Team California (Encinitas)
  3. Team Florida (Orlando)
  4. Team Illinois (Lemont)
  5. Team Utah (Lehi)
  6. Team Texas (Farmers Branch)
  7. Team Oklahoma (Broken Arrow)
  8. Team Minnesota (Blaine)
  9. Team Connecticut (Torrington)
  10. Team New Jersey (Haworth)
  11. Team Pennsylvania (West Mifflin)
  12. Team New York (Saratoga Springs)
2022 PGA Jr. League Championship
The 2022 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo: Darren Carroll/PGA of America)

Past champions

  • 2022: North Carolina
  • 2021: Utah
  • 2020: No event, canceled due to COVID
  • 2019: Georgia
  • 2018: California
  • 2017: Georgia
  • 2016: California
  • 2015: California
  • 2014: California
  • 2013: Georgia
  • 2012: California

Last Thursday, prior to the event teeing off, the PGA of America hosted a National Car Rental Welcome Party which included a panel moderated by ESPN’s Michael Collins and Colt Knost from CBS Sports as well as Finau, Michelle Wie West and Stanford sophomore and World Amateur No. 1 Rose Zhang.

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Junior golf: AJGA announces 2022 Junior All-Star Team

These are some of the best junior golfers in the world.

The American Junior Golf Association announced Tuesday the 21st annual AJGA Junior All-Star Team, which includes 20 players who were recognized as the top golfers ages 12-15 in the world during the 2022 season.

The AJGA Junior All-Star Team was selected based on the Rolex AJGA Rankings. The top 10 boys and 10 girls were determined as of Sept. 8. Eligibility for the team includes competition in at least two AJGA Junior All-Star Series tournaments, which also included the KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational. AJGA Junior All-Star Series events were conducted across the country from March to August.

Members of the AJGA Junior All-Star Team received an invitation to play in the concluding event of the Junior All-Star Series at the 2022 Ping An Bank Junior All-Star Invitational from Nov. 20-23 at Canyon Springs Golf Club in San Antonio.

Here’s a look at the 10 boys and 10 girls who were named to the All-Star team:

Girls

Hadley Ashton, Erie, Colorado (Class of 2025)

Sawyer Brockstedt, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (Class of 2025)

Irene Kim, Woodstock, Maryland (Class of 2026)

Ellison Lundquist, Furlong, Pennsylvania (Class of 2025)

Rianne Malixi, (Philippines) San Bernardino, California (Class of 2025)

Avery McCrery, Wilmington, Delaware (Class of 2025)

Scarlett Schremmer, Birmingham, Alabama (Class of 2025)

Siuue Wu, (Hong Kong) Reunion, Florida (Class of 2024)

Angela Zhang, Bellevue, Washington (Class of 2027)

Donina Zhou, San Clemente, California (Class of 2027)

Boys

Finley Bartlett, Cincinnati, Ohio (Class of 2025)

Edan Cui, Atherton, California (Class of 2025)

Michael Lee, Fairfax, Virginia (Class of 2024)

Tyler Loree, Kula, Hawaii (Class of 2025)

Brody McQueen, Marietta, Georgia (Class of 2026)

Nathan Miller, Dallas, Texas (Class of 2025)

Sahish Reddy,  Atlanta, Georgia (Class of 2026)

Michael Riebe, Encinitas, California (Class of 2025)

Luke Smith, (Canada) Toronto, Ontario (Class of 2025)

Eric Zhao, (Canada) Toronto, Ontario (Class of 2025)

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Charlie Woods shoots career-low round with dad Tiger on the bag at Notah Begay III Junior National Golf Championship

Tiger was on the bag for Charlie’s new low round.

Look out, world. Charlie Woods is pretty good at this whole golf thing.

While the Presidents Cup was going on in Charlotte, North Carolina, the son of Tiger Woods shot a 4-under round of 68 on Sunday during the final round of the Notah Begay III Junior National Golf Championship at Mission Inn Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida. And his dad was on the bag to see Charlie’s career-low round.

Charlie went out in 1 over, but he played well on his back nine, recording two birdies and an eagle on the par-5 14th hole to come home in 3-under 34 and shoot 68. His approach shot lipped out for albatross on the 14th.

“When I hit (the approach), I knew it was good,” Charlie said. “When it started trickling down, I knew it was going to be close, but not that close.”

At the PNC Championship, Charlie has shown his playing capabilities alongside Tiger. But it seems as if he’s making a name for himself, too.

“Dad told me to stay patient. I just played steady golf,” Charlie said.

Charlie finished T-4 in the Boys 12-13 division. He finished 4 over for 36 holes.

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This teen-aged son of a PGA Tour winner has pro aspirations … and it’s not Charlie Woods

Jackson Byrd, who won the AJGA’s Matthew NeSmith Junior Championship, could be the next son of a PGA Tour pro to make it.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Davis Love III was practicing ahead of the 2021 RSM Classic at the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort in St. Simons Island, Georgia, when his phone buzzed with a message from fellow PGA Tour pro Jonathan Byrd to come join him at the seventh tee.

Byrd, a five-time Tour winner and 2002 Rookie of the Year, was playing with his son, Jackson, who recently turned 16 and stepped up and smoked a drive 50 yards past Love at the par 5.

“We were waiting for the group to clear the green so I gunned it and he had 214 yards left,” said Love, who was freakishly long in his day and can still send it. “I got out a 4-iron to hit one from there. He lifted this high-arching iron on the green and I asked him, ‘What club did you hit?’ He said, ‘7-iron, but it’s downwind.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s downwind for me too.’ ”

Love laughed. “We’re high on him,” he said. “Jackson’s the real deal.”

Move over Bill Haas and slow down Charlie Woods, who is 13. The next son of a PGA Tour winner to make the big time could be Jackson Byrd, who won the AJGA’s Matthew NeSmith Junior Championship in August in his first AJGA start.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Jackson, who shot three consecutive rounds of 1-under 70 en route to the win and earned a spot in the Junior Players Championship last week, where he finished T-55.

Jackson Byrd, 16, receives the winner’s trophy from PGA Tour pro Matthew NeSmith of the AJGA’s Matthew NeSmith Junior Championship.

As the son of a Tour pro and growing up around the game, Jackson had clubs from a very young age, but started taking golf seriously and playing tournaments at age 8. About three years ago, he finally beat his dad, who he regularly outdrives, at Frederica Golf Club.

“I knew that day would come but it came a lot faster than I hoped it would,” the elder Byrd said. “He’s a better driver of the golf ball than me, hits it farther and at times a better iron player. He’s got all the tools. But there’s a lot of talented players out there and it’s tough to make it. He’s watched me and seen the good, the bad and the ugly of professional golf. That experience of growing up around Tour pros (such as Zach Johnson and Keith Mitchell) has got to count for something.”

Father-son tandems in golf date all the way back to Old and Young Tom Morris. Of more recent vintage, Bill Haas, son of Jay, has notched six Tour titles, including the FedEx Cup; Kevin Stadler, son of Masters winner Craig, claimed the 2014 WM Phoenix Open; and Kevin Tway, son of PGA Championship winner Bob, hoisted the Safeway Open trophy in 2018. But good genes never helped Gary Nicklaus, son of 18-time major winner Jack, to the winner’s circle.

Jackson competed this summer in the Western Junior Championship and had his dear old Dad on the bag. How did that go?

“It was stressful,” Jonathan said. “It was also probably the highlight of my summer. We were 7 under with two holes to play in the first round until I made a caddie mistake and he drove into a fairway bunker and made double (bogey). He was tied for the lead after two rounds (67-70) and played in the last group (before finishing T-16)…It’s hard being a junior golf dad, it’s hard watching from the cart path and living and dying on every shot. But it’s also the greatest joy of my life watching my kids do anything well. I love seeing them have a passion and going out there and pursuing a worthy goal.”

Jonathan, 44, was a three-time All-American at Clemson, where his brother, Jordan, (Jackson’s uncle) became the head men’s golf coach in July 2021. It’s early but Jackson could well shape up as one of the most coveted recruits in the Class of 2025 and already has plenty of coaches keeping tabs on the next ‘J Byrd.”

Jackson aspires to follow in his father’s footsteps and play on Tour and win. “Hopefully as much if not more than he did,” Jackson said. “I know a lot about being on Tour and what it takes to get there.”

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The youngest Heck sister, Notre Dame commit Anna, not worried about following in sibling’s footsteps

Anna comes from a Heck of a golfing family.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – When Anna Heck grabbed her golf bag and walked off the ninth green at Windyke Country Club in Memphis, Tennessee, you wouldn’t know whether she just finished a round to remember or a round to forget.

The St. Agnes Academy senior rarely showed any emotion while breezing through nine holes of a match against Hutchison, St. Benedict and ECS as if it was just another day on the course. For Anna, it was just another day on the course.

She never gets too high or too low. She knows not every round is going to be her best. She also knows the mental side of golf is tougher than the physical. So, she keeps an even-keeled attitude at all times.

“Anna’s not the type of person where her self identity and her mood is going to rely on the golf course,” her older sister Rachel, a junior at Stanford, said. “Golf is kind of part of her journey and a small part of who she is.”

Anna Heck
St. Agnes Academy golfer Anna Heck places her ball Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Irene Golf & Country Club in Memphis. (Photo: Christine Tannous/The Commercial Appeal)

Anna could easily let the pressure of following her older sisters dictate how she plays. But that would take away from the fun of it.

Sure, Abby, the oldest of the Heck sisters, won two individual state championships at St. Agnes. And Rachel – arguably the most decorated golfer in Shelby County history – won titles in all four years of high school. But Anna being the only sister not to win an individual state championship (yet) isn’t distracting her from her love of golf.

“Obviously every year I go into the state tournament, trying to get that win,” said Anna, who has committed to play at Notre Dame. “But, like I said before, just try not to let a good or bad round determine that.”

A sweet introduction to golf

Golf has always been a part of the Heck sisters’ lives. It started out as their dad, Robert, finding a way to bond with his daughters.

“He has three daughters, he told my mom, ‘I don’t know what I’m really going to do with them,’” Rachel recalled. “‘I think I’ll just take them to golf.’

“And my mom said, ‘You can’t make them like golf.’ And he was like, ‘Watch me.’”

It started as innocent fun. He came up with different games for them to play, and made it an overall fun experience. It was never intended to be taken competitively. And a reward for a hard day’s work at the golf course? Ice cream.

Anna Heck

St. Agnes Academy golfer Anna Heck plays Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Irene Golf & Country Club in Memphis. (Photo: Christine Tannous/The Commercial Appeal)

“Soon a love for ice cream turned into a love for golf,” Rachel added.

There wasn’t a specific point where Rachel, Abby or Anna became good. As they continued to play together, naturally they became competitive.

“I feel like even though it is serious, there’s still going to be that innocent, fun part of golf in it,” Anna said.

Added Anna: “It was fun, then it was, ‘Oh, we’re not too bad at this.’”

Abby is at Notre Dame, where she finished her career with a 74.61 stroke average, the third-best stroke average in program history. She’s now happily retired from competitive golf and enrolled in medical school. She still plays recreationally.

Rachel is at Stanford and has quickly become one of the top amateur female golfers in the world. With the success she had in high school, she spring-boarded at Stanford, grabbing eight wins through two seasons, including an individual NCAA championship as a freshman. Rachel plans to play professionally.

Anna Hack
St. Agnes Academy golfer Anna Heck plays Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Irene Golf & Country Club in Memphis. (Photo: Christine Tannous/The Commercial Appeal)

As for Anna, she hasn’t quite figured out her plans. She doesn’t feel any pressure to continue professionally. She always was going to have her own path. While she enjoyed watching her sisters succeed on the golf course – while also having her own success – she didn’t have in her plans to continue with a professional career.

“I definitely want to continue with golf my whole life, but personally I don’t think I want to go pro,” Anna said. “Obviously, I’m 18, anything can change and I don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life.

“I couldn’t be more excited with golf and just see where it takes me after.”

Paving her own path

When the opportunity came for Anna to become involved with a foreign exchange student program, she was interested, but knew she wasn’t going to be able to do that and keep up with golf. It was her best friend that pushed her toward signing up for the program.

“I cannot overemphasize how amazing that was,” Anna said of the experience.

That coupled with a chance to go to Costa Rica for two weeks. It was more time away from golf, but Anna was OK with that.

Anna Heck

St. Agnes Academy golfer Anna Heck plays Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Irene Golf & Country Club in Memphis. (Photo: Christine Tannous/The Commercial Appeal)

Anna was always going to do things her way. She never let what her sisters accomplished or how quickly Rachel emerged as one of the top amateur golfers in the world, dictate her path. In a way, as much as their success motivated her, it also inspired her to find more interests outside of golf.

“Overall, that is so important for her wellbeing and even her golf performance,” said Abby, the oldest Heck sister. “I played my best golf once I kind of felt very fulfilled and well-rounded in my life.”

Because of that foreign exchange program, Anna has taken an interest in foreign languages as well as the sciences. She hopes to find a career that will allow her to intertwine the two. And she’ll do it while still having her love for golf.

Anna Heck
St. Agnes Academy golfer Anna Heck reacts as she misses her putt Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Irene Golf & Country Club in Memphis. (Photo: Christine Tannous/The Commercial Appeal)

“Just having these other activities,” Anna said, “pursuing other interests and finding other passions are really important for your mental health.

“And just being happy, knowing that you can put your all into your sport, you can love it with your whole heart, but it not determine your every emotion you have.”

Reach Wynston Wilcox at wwilcox@gannett.com and on Twitter @wynstonw__.

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Gianna Clemente, 14, shoots 65 in Cincinnati to Monday qualify for a third consecutive week on the LPGA

“I definitely didn’t expect a 65, but I got the putter on fire.”

It’s not just that Gianna Clemente has Monday-qualified for an LPGA event a third consecutive week. While that’s certainly impressive enough, consider that she also carded a 7-under 65 at Kenwood Country Club to win by three and earn her spot in the field at the Kroger Queen City Championship in Cincinnati.

At 14 years old, Clemente becomes the youngest player to ever Monday qualify for three consecutive events. She’s also only the second player to do it, following in the footsteps of South Korea’s Hee-Won Han in 2001. Han went on to win six times on the LPGA.

“I definitely didn’t expect a 65,” said Clemente, “but I got the putter on fire.”

Gianna Clemente watches her tee shot on the fifth hole during the second round of the Dana Open presented by Marathon at Highland Meadows Golf Club on September 02, 2022 in Sylvania, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Monday marked the first time Clemente has qualified on the actual tournament course. Weather kept her from being able to play a practice round at Kenwood, but she did walk 14 of the holes. Her father and caddie, Patrick, walked all 18. Clemente said she didn’t sleep well the night before and chalked it up to life on the road.

Clemente qualified for the CP Women’s Open in late August followed by the Dana Open in Sylvania, Ohio. She has yet to make the cut. The high school freshman was runner-up in her first U.S. Girls’ Junior appearance earlier this summer.

Anna Davis, 16, winner of the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, is competing this week on a sponsor exemption and saw her friend in the parking lot before she teed off.

“I just told her she’s big-time and to have a good round,” said Davis. “Yeah, but she’s a good friend of mine, and she’s solid. Especially being at that young of an age, I thought I was young, and then she just qualified three times in a row, and I was like, maybe I’m not that young.”

Amateurs must apply for an exemption to participate in LPGA local qualifiers. The Clementes live in Warren, Ohio, and Gianna went to the Dana Open as a kid, mostly following Lexi Thompson.

“I’ve learned that this is definitely what I want to do with my life,” said Clemente, “and this is where I want to belong in the future. I stick out a little bit now because I look young and I am young.”

Clemente said putting is what has held her back of late. Before Monday’s round, she used the metronome app on her cell phone to work on the speed of her stroke. She first began working with putting coach David Angelotti at Sea Island 18 months ago.

“I have a really naturally slow stroke,” said Clemente, “so I do my best to speed it up, and when I speed it up that works.”

Rain closed the course again Tuesday, so Clemente took the opportunity to catch up on her schoolwork. She worked on her world history, English, science and algebra classes prior to taking several calls from the media. She planned to get out her metronome again Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s definitely a lot easier to prepare now, having already seen the course,” said Clemente, “knowing what it looks like and knowing how to play it.”

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A tale of two Smiths: Cam(den) Smith trying to match Cam(eron) Smith in winning at TPC Sawgrass

Time will tell if Camden Smith develops the game that Cameron Smith possesses.

PONTE VEDRA, Fla. — The high school junior was bold enough to approach six-time PGA Tour winner Cameron Smith in the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse last March during the week of The Players Championship.

“Hi,” the young man said, sticking his hand out. “I’m Cam Smith.”

“Cool,” the eventual winner of the Players Championship said.

“Then I just walked away,” Camden Smith said.

But he wants the world to know something.

“I had the mullet before he did,” said the Ponte Vedra High School senior who shot 68 on Saturday to work his way into contention in the second round of the American Junior Golf Association Junior Players Championship, at the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

He also has a flat-brimmed Titleist hat and the big smile. Time will tell if Camden Smith develops the game that Cameron Smith possesses but the signs are pointing in the right direction.

Smith, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, whose family moved from Windermere near Orlando to Ponte Vedra Beach earlier this year, birdied his first two holes on each side, then weathered a rough stretch late to finish at 6-under-par 138 and in a tie for fifth in the 16th edition of the First Coast’s Labor Day weekend golf tradition.

Jackson Koivun of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, fifth on the AJGA Rolex Rankings and an Auburn commit, had a bogey-free 64, including a back-nine 31, and is tied for the lead with Jeffrey Guan of Australia (69) at 8-under 136.

Koivun eagled No. 11 and birdied Nos. 16 and 17 to finish one shot shy of the Junior Players 18-hole record of 63, recorded by Logan McAllister in 2017.

“I feel like I played a lot smarter than yesterday [when he shot 72 with six birdies, two bogeys and two doubles, at Nos. 1 and 18],” Koivun said. “I gave myself really good opportunities to score and make a few birdies and even an eagle as well. I knew I had it in me after making six birdies yesterday and I kept the mistakes to a minimum today and it paid off.”

Carson Kim of Yorba Linda, California, had a bogey-free 68. Ethan Fang of Plano, Texas, birdied No. 18 to finish with the low round of the day at 66 to tie for second at 7-under.

Smith is tied with Jay Leng, Jr., of San Diego (71).

Camden Smith has already reached one goal: Making Ponte Vedra High’s lineup

Smith, who has committed to Mississippi State, has already accomplished one difficult feat in golf: he cracked the starting lineup for the seven-time defending champion Ponte Vedra High Sharks and shot a combined 4-under in 54 holes in his first two tournaments.

He’s got most moving parts of his game synching in the right direction. Smith is ranked 24th on the Rolex Rankings and this summer has finished second in the Western Junior Amateur and tied for fifth in the AJGA Jack Burke Jr. Invitational.

All that remains, he said, is to stay positive. He and his father Brent, who has coached him since he took up golf on a serious basis in 2019 after having success playing middle school basketball, stresses it to him on a regular basis.

“It’s one thing my Dad and I always work on, is staying positive,” he said. “I just used to get super-negative so just staying happy, staying positive and being thankful to be out here is the biggest thing for me. Don’t get caught up in the score. Just have fun and do it the next day.”

Smith birdied all four par-5 holes on short putts and birdied three other holes on putts of 10 feet or less.

He was tied for the lead after a 4-foot birdie putt at No. 4 (his 13th hole) but wasted two booming drives at Nos. 6 and 7 with bogeys. He was short of the green and in the bunker after having a 70-yard second shot at the sixth, and blew his second shot over the green at No. 7.

Smith rallied with an up-and-down par at No. 8 and a tap-in birdie at the par-5 ninth.

“Other than those two holes [Nos. 6 and 7] I was pretty happy today,” he said.

Smith went by Camden within his family for years, until he got to junior high school and his friends shorted it to “Cam.”

Shortly after he began playing junior golf on a full-time basis in 2019, he became aware of a budding star named Cameron Smith.

“We always joked about it, that I wanted to be like him,” Smith said. “This week I have a chance to do that. I’ve really admired his wedge game and putting. I try to mimic him and putt like him.”

Camden Smith practiced and played with a number of the pros who lived in the Orlando area, such as Charles Howell III, Brian Gay, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Sam Horsfield.

His one regret is that it might be difficult to get a game with Cameron Smith, since he was suspended from the PGA Tour on Friday when he played in a LIV Golf Series event near Boston, and among other things, lost his playing privileges at the TPC Sawgrass.

Smith said he won’t judge the decision Cameron Smith and Horsfield made in going to the LIV Series and remains a fan of both.

“I respect everybody who’s gone over there,” Camden Smith said. “You do what’s best for you and your family.

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Photos: Steph Curry welcomes Michelle Wie West, Collin Morikawa to Underrated Golf finale at TPC Harding Park

The event included 13 top boys and girls athletes from across the country competing at the San Francisco muni.

While Steph Curry has maintained his place at the top of the pro basketball hierarchy, he continues to forge a larger footprint on the game of golf as well.

Curry’s Underrated Golf concluded its first season this week, with the Curry Cup held at pristine TPC Harding Park, site of the 2020 PGA Championship.

The event included 13 top boys and girls athletes from across the country competing at the San Francisco municipal course, with Ashley Shaw and Roman Solomon crowned as the Underrated Tour champions. According to a release from the circuit — which had events in Chicago, Houston, Phoenix and Tampa before the final — the series is part of an “inspiring lifestyle program with a mission to empower underrated and underrepresented individuals all over the world.”

Curry, who was on hand with his father, Dell, and his brother, Seth, as well as Golden State Warriors teammate Andre Iguodala, has also brought to life the golf programs at Howard University, an NCAA Division I school in Washington, D.C.

“I’m so proud of all the players who competed in Underrated Golf’s first annual Curry Cup,” said Stephen Curry. “These boys and girls represent a new era in golf and the beginning of change on the course and across the sport. Experiencing it firsthand and meeting these talented athletes at a time when doors are opening for them in the industry was truly inspiring. I’m grateful to be part of that journey alongside everyone else who made the first iteration of this special program possible.”

Among the guests in attendance were Michelle Wie West and Collin Morikawa, who captured his first major at Harding Park and played collegiately at the nearby University of California-Berkeley.

Here’s a look at some images from the event:

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