As the sixth annual Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship prepares to tee-off March 5 at TPC Myrtle Beach, the world’s best golfer is close to accomplishing another goal.
When DJ launched his namesake junior event in 2016 his mission was to make the 54-hole college-style tournament the best in America, and he has taken another step in that direction.
The field for the 2021 DJ World Junior, which features boys and girls tournaments, is one of the nation’s best. How much talent will be challenging an impeccably conditioned TPC Myrtle Beach this year?
— Seventy-four of the 90 players (60 boys, 30 girls) are ranked among the nation’s top 100 juniors by either Golfweek or Junior Golf Scoreboard.
— Forty-nine of the 60 boys are ranked among the top 100, including 11 of Golfweek’s top 20 juniors.
— Twenty of the 30 girls competing are ranked among America’s top 50 juniors, and overall 25 are top 100 players.
The boys field is headlined by Brendan Valdes (Orlando, Fl.), an Auburn signee who won the Notah Begay III Junior Golf National Championship, a victory that catapulted him to No. 6 in Golfweek’s rankings.
Valdes will face a significant challenge from fellow top 20 players such as No. 8 Bryan Lee (Fairfax, Va.), No. 10 Maxwell Ford (Peachtree, Ga./Georgia), No. 11 Nick Dunlap (Huntsville, Al.), No. 12 Caleb Surratt (Indian Trail, N.C.) and No. 13 Luke Clanton (Hialeah, Fl.).
Surratt was the runner-up in 2020, finishing one stroke behind Tyler Wilkes, who is a regular in the University of Florida’s lineup this year.
The favorite in the girls tournament is Hyo Joon Jang (Howey in the Hills, Fl.), America’s third-ranked junior. Jang has five victories in the last year, including a triumph at the Hope Valley Junior Invitational. Among Jang’s primary challengers will be No. 12 Taylor Keyhoe (Ontario, Canada), No. 16 Blakely Shoemaker (Dade City, Fl.) and No. 19 Brooke Bierman (Wildwood, Mo.).
While the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship is a relative newcomer to the competitive scene, the event has quickly become one of the nation’s best for a multitude of reasons. Foremost among the tournament’s virtues is the quality of the field it attracts.