The fourth annual Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship is poised to test some of the game’s best young players at TPC Myrtle Beach. The 54-hole college-style event will be played March 1-3 and has attracted one of the strongest fields in junior golf. The 90-player event features 28 boys who have been ranked among the nation’s top 100 junior golfers.
Sixteen of the 24 girls participating in the tournament are top 100 players, led by defending champion Alexa Pano, the 14-year-old phenom who is ranked sixth in the nation. While Pano, a Florida native, will enter the event as the favorite, the competition, led by last year’s runner-up, Ashley Menne, will be stiff. The 11th-ranked Menne was tied with Pano with eight holes remaining in 2018 and would like to take the tournament title back to her native Arizona this year.
On the boys side, defending champion Michael Brennan, who used a dramatic final hole eagle to defeat Akshay Bhatia, the world’s top-ranked junior, will return to defend his crown. Brennan (Leesburg, Va.), a junior who has verbally committed to play at Wake Forest, will face the strongest field in tournament history. Jackson Van Paris (Pinehurst, N.C.) is the highest ranked boy in the field (15th) and became the youngest player since Bobby Jones in 1916 to win a match at U.S. Amateur last August at Pebble Beach.
Rounding out the top 50 boys playing in the event are No. 22 Nick Dunlap (Greer, S.C.), No. 27 Gavin Noble (Ringgold, Ga.), No. 28 George Dua
ngmanee (Fairfax, Va.), No. 30 Austin Greaser (Vandalia, Ohio), No. 34 Peter Fountain (Raleigh, N.C.), No. 34 Luke Clanton (Miami Lakes, Fla.), No. 36 Yuki Moriyama (Las Vegas, Nev.), No. 47 Hiroshi Tai (Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.), and No. 49 Tyler Wilkes (Tampa, Fla.).
A significant part of the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship’s appeal is TPC Myrtle Beach, one of the nation’s premier layouts. TPC Myrtle Beach, Johnson’s long-time home course, provides a stern but fair challenge. Golf Advisor readers ranked TPC among America’s top 50 public courses and the reasons for its popularity are many. Architect Tom Fazio took full advantage of the area’s natural beauty, and the course’s closing holes provide a dramatic challenge for tournament players. The par 3 17th, which plays to a peninsula green surrounded by water, is fraught with danger when late-round nerves come into play. The 18th, a par 5 with a lake that buffets the left side of the green, presents every player with a risk-reward decision: flirt with water and go for the green in two or play it conservatively? It’s a decision that could determine who this year’s Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Champions are.