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Six Alum Participate at Sage Valley

The Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship launched with the goal of making the event one of the nation’s premier tournaments, and three years in, it might be ahead of schedule.

The Junior Invitational at Sage Valley is regarded by many as America’s most prestigious youth event, and three of the top four finishers at this year’s tournament were DJ World Junior alums.

Akshay Bhatia, who won at Sage Valley, finished tied for second this year at TPC Myrtle Beach. Third place Sage Valley finishers Trent Phillips, 2017 champion, and Robin Williams were also among the six DJ alums that played in the event.

The victory at Sage Valley wasn’t without considerable drama for Bhatia. He shot a 4-under 68 in the opening round, a score that would’ve been much better if not for incurring a two-stroke penalty for using a laser range finder, something the event doesn’t allow.

Bhatia birdied the 13th and 14th during Saturday’s final round, giving him enough cushion to hold off second place finisher Frankie Capan by a stroke, despite closing with three consecutive bogeys. Bhatia was 2-under for the event.

Congratulations to Akshay and best of luck to all our Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship alums as they head into the heart of their spring and summer seasons.

This year’s DJ World Junior winner Michael Brennan vaulted to No. 40 in Golfweek’s junior boys rankings, based on the strength of his victory in Myrtle Beach. Brennan, the reigning Virginia State Golf Association Junior Boys Golfer of the Year, has built an impressive resume largely on the strength of his stellar play in VSGA events.

Bhatia’s victory at Sage Valley will propel him well above his current No. 6  position in the Golfweek rankings.

Brennan Rallies For Dramatic Victory, Pano Goes Wire-to-Wire

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Michael Brennan (Leesburg, Va.) and Alexa Pano (Lake Worth, Fla.) collected Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship titles Sunday at TPC Myrtle Beach, but that’s about the only thing their days had in common.

[FULL SCOREBOARD: BOYS, GIRLS]

Pano came to the 18th tee four shots clear of the field, while Brennan arrived at the same spot having never enjoyed an outright lead.

Ben Carr (Columbus, Ga.) was in the clubhouse at 2-over and Brennan walked to the final tee box with the same score. After hitting his drive on the 545-yard par 5 in the left center of the fairway, Brennan produced the most dramatic shot in the third annual event’s history.

Approximately 230 yards from the hole with a breeze at his back, he lasered 4-iron to 20 feet and drained the ensuing eagle putt, eliciting a fist pump and a roar from the crowd that had gathered to watch. Brennan shot a 73 and finished the tournament at even par.

Trailing by a shot entering the third round, Brennan bogeyed his first hole and doubled No. 2. But the sophomore settled down and played very well over the final 16 holes on a warm but windy day that proved difficult for scoring.

Final round leader Yuki Moriyama struggled from the outset, shooting an 81 to finish tied for seventh at 9-over.

Pano, an eighth grader who is the 20th ranked junior girl in America, carried a three-shot lead into the day, but found herself in a tight battle through the middle of the back nine. Ashley Menne (Surprise, Az.), a sophomore who has verbally committed to Arizona State, chipped away at Pano’s lead and pulled into a tie after 10 holes.

The nation’s 14th ranked girl, Menne made bogey on the 11th, allowing Pano to retake a one-stroke lead, and the two girls traded pars the next three holes. Menne played holes 15 through 17 four over, permanently ceding control to Pano.

Pano, who shot an opening round 68 and had at least a share of the lead after every round, made pars on 17 and 18 and finished 2-over, four strokes clear of Menne.

Alexandra Swayne, who fired an opening round 68 only to see her hopes of winning derailed by an 82 on Saturday, shot a final round 74 and finished third at 8-over.

Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship attracted players from 19 states to compete in the 54-hole, college style event.

With the support of Johnson, the No. 1 ranked player in the world, the tournament provided players a PGA Tour-like experience and the opportunity to test themselves against some of the best juniors from across the globe.

A significant part of the event’s appeal was TPC Myrtle Beach, one of the Grand Strand’s most decorated layouts. TPC Myrtle Beach has hosted the Senior PGA Tour Championship and been ranked among “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” by Golf Digest, making it an ideal venue to test golf’s rising young stars.

The Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship was sponsored by Founders Group International, the Dustin Johnson Golf School, and Golf Tourism Solutions.

Johnson’s involvement with the tournament reflects his long-time commitment to junior golf, particularly in South Carolina, where he grew into one of the world’s best players. Through the Dustin Johnson Foundation, which is headquartered in Myrtle Beach, Johnson has donated more than $250,000 to junior golf, sponsoring numerous events throughout the state and helping cover entry costs for kids who need financial assistance.

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