Archive for April, 2016
PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America, has teamed up with the SVJI Sports Foundation on the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, as the two will serve as co-beneficiaries of the 2016 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club.
Recognized as one of the premier junior tournaments in the world, the 2016 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley will take place on April 21-23, just two weeks after the Masters. The event annually attracts many of the top-ranked junior golfers in the world, including contestants from 15 countries last year.
The Junior Invitational’s Fundraising Committee will be comprised of Tom Wyatt, President, Sage Valley Golf Club; Haresh Tharani, Chairman and CEO, The Tharanco Group; Pete Davis, Managing Principal, Peachtree Investment Solutions; Lamell McMorris, CEO, Perennial Strategy Group and Perennial Sports and Entertainment; Steve Schott, Managing Principal, CapTrust Advisors; Todd Townes, Co-Founder, FusionATL; Brad Wilson, Vice President, Highwood Capital; and Scott Brown, Former United States Senator.
In addition, the PGA of America will be represented on the Fundraising Committee by Scott Kmiec, Executive Director, PGA REACH and Kevin Ring, Chief Revenue Officer, PGA of America.
The event kicks off with a welcome banquet where past keynote speakers have included President George Bush, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tim Finchem and 2015 hosts; Peter Jacobsen and the father-son duo of Jay and Bill Haas.
In addition to the competitive 54-Hole Tournament, the Junior Invitational features a Junior – Am Competition, which serves as the primary fundraising vehicle for the event. The Junior – Am includes 18 holes of golf for individual and corporate donors at Sage Valley both Tuesday and Wednesday of tournament week. Each donor is paired with an Invitational participant and a youth who has been impacted by the game of golf.
As always, local youth from the First Tee of Aiken and First Tee of Augusta will perform integral roles in the event, which is hosted by the SVJI Sports Foundation. All youth involved in the event will participate in a variety of educational, mentoring, and leadership development activities throughout the week thanks to the generosity of Junior – Am supporters.
PGA REACH works to positively impact lives through the game of golf, with a focus on three key pillars: Youth, Military and Diversity & Inclusion. The partnership with the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley was developed specifically to support the youth pillar.
Focused youth programming, under the guidance of PGA Professionals is designed to improve and advance opportunities for boys and girls in the areas of education, health and wellness, as well as serve and an introduction to the game of golf.
PGA Junior League Golf, which included 30,000 boys and girls and 2,500 teams in 2015 and is championed by ambassadors Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy and Michelle Wie, is the key youth program of PGA REACH, and works in cahoots with other programs such as Golf In Schools, Boys & Girls Clubs and After School programming at Community Centers.
Individuals and Corporations may register to attend and participate in the event, and a variety of exclusive sponsorship opportunities are available.
For participation and sponsorship opportunities, please contact PGA REACH at 561.624.7612 or visit www.juniorinvitational.com.
About PGA REACH
PGA REACH serves as the charitable foundation of the PGA of America. Through the game of golf, PGA REACH fosters inclusion and positively impacts youth, military veterans and diverse communities. Aligned with the PGA of America’s 41 Section offices and charitable partners, PGA REACH leverages the game of golf to make a difference in the communities we serve. For more information please visit www.pgareach.com
About SAGE VALLEY
The prestigious and beautiful Sage Valley Golf Club is nestled in beautiful rolling hills only minutes from historic, downtown Augusta, GA. The Club opened its tees to an exclusive international membership in 2001 and is surrounded by several thousand acres of picturesque topography and mature landscaping. Sage Valley is an ideal site for golf and captures the charm and grace of the “Old South.” This esteemed Club is the realization of Weldon Wyatt’s dream to provide golfers throughout the world an unparalleled experience. To create his visions, Weldon and his son, Tom Wyatt, invited award-winning golf course designer, Tom Fazio, to construct the course and grounds. Wyatt and Fazio took advantage of this rare opportunity to create the ultimate routing plan, a masterwork of golf course design.
About SVJI Sports Foundation
SVJI Sports Foundation serves as the organizer and administrator of the annual Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club. The event, which is held each April, hosts the top 54 juniors around the globe in a professionally styled event, presenting them an opportunity to compete against other world-class players in a facility renowned for its hospitality, service and internationally recognized golf-course. The Foundation looks to use contributions from the event to benefit other Christian based charities, and other amateur golf events.
Austin Eckroat of Edmond, Oklahoma, shot a final-round 75 Saturday to win the 2016 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club by one shot over Min Woo Lee of Australia. Eckroat led wire-to-wire, finishing with a three-day total of 210.
Don’t be deceived. Sunday was an epic struggle for the 17-year-old Oklahoma State verbal commitment, who edged Lee (211), John Axelsen of Sweden (third place, 213) and Davis Shore (fourth, 214) of Knoxville, Tennessee.
The leader by three and five strokes after the first two rounds, respectively, Eckroat started Saturday’s final round slowly. He knew early something was amiss. He double bogeyed the first hole, his first double square all week.
His was so off, he had more bogeys or double bogeys (three) within his initial seven holes than he had the first two rounds (2), combined.
“I really struggled off the tee,” said Eckroat. “I was hitting it left and my irons were going right. I had no idea what I was doing.”
Four consecutive pars on holes 8-11 steadied his ship, but only temporarily, as bogeys on No. 12 and 14 shaved his lead to a single shot.
He birdied the par-5 15th, getting up and down from just off the green (50 feet). “I knew I needed to make that [15-foot birdie] putt.”
At 16, Eckroat “pushed” his 4-foot bid for par.
“Then I heard the loud roar,” he said.
The roar was engineered by Lee, who snaked in “probably the best shot I’ve ever hit. It was a big 40-footer, down the hill, left-to-right, then right-to-left, a double-breaker. It just trickled in.”
Just like that, things were all square between Eckroat and Lee.
After routine pars on 17 for Eckroat and on 18 for Lee, it appeared extra holes might be in order.
Eckroat pushed his drive on 18 into the right rough. He was 235 yards out.
“I was thinking playoff,” admitted Eckroat, who pulled his 2-iron. “Whenever you have a 2-iron in hand, you are not thinking birdie.”
That mindset changed quickly when the 2-iron split the large green and rolled to within 12 feet.
“I just totally forgot everything, swung and it worked,” said Eckroat of his second shot.
That left just the putt. Uphill, slightly right-to-left.
Eckroat walked it in. Just the third birdie of the day at No. 18 provided the 2015 Oklahoma Junior Champion with the greatest win of his burgeoning career.
Moments after his charge, which included eight birdies en route to a closing 67, had ended and his hopes for a playoff were dashed, the 17-year-old Lee was content with his effort and pleased for his friend.
“I am glad Austin made the birdie on the last hole. I’m happy for him.”
Asked about the week, his win and the experience, Eckroat smiled and offered, “this place is awesome, by far my favorite golf course.”
The 54-hole Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club is widely recognized as one of the premier junior tournaments in the world. The prestigious event attracts many of the game’s top-ranked junior golfers on an annual basis.