May 8, 2014

From #JrPLAYERS to the main stage at TPC Sawgrass

As play begins for THE PLAYERS Championship, the AJGA looks back at alumni competing on the famed Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf offers an AJGA Invitational experience modeled after the PGA TOUR event. Hosted over Labor Day weekend, the event offers a professional feel to an international field of 78 boys including benefits like:
• course setup and hole locations matching those of THE PLAYERS Championship
• access to the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse and TOUR locker room facilities
• professional caddies
• honorary starter Doug Kidd (voice of the Jacksonville Jaguars)
• electronic leaderboard on No. 18 with live scoring on every hole
• local media interviews and a training session in the TPC Sawgrass media room
Jordan Spieth and Morgan Hoffmann have discussed how the experience has helped them during this week’s preparations.
Spieth, who tied for second in 2010 at 3-under-par 213, shot rounds of 73-69-71. During the second round he went 16 holes bogey free on Nos. 2-17, and birdied No. 17 in the final round.
During the rookie press conference Wednesday, he said the opportunity at The Junior PLAYERS Championship prepared him for the big stage.
“Three and a half years ago, I played in The Junior PLAYERS, which is an incredible experience to play a golf course like TPC Sawgrass in a junior event, against the best juniors in the country,” said Spieth, the five-time AJGA champion and 2009 Rolex Junior Player of the Year. “It fit my game well and I played well that week.
“I'm a different player now.  I hit it a different distance, but ultimately having seen the layout of these holes, I knew in the practice rounds where to practice chipping from, which sides to miss it to certain pins.” 
Hoffmann won the inaugural event in 2007 with rounds of 71-67-71 to finish 7-under-par 209 and set the lowest all-time 54-hole scoring total (which has since been tied). Hoffmann began the final round with a five-stroke lead and used the victory to earn Rolex Junior All-America honors in 2007.
Other fun facts about AJGA alumni in THE PLAYERS field:
Of 144 total players:
78 AJGA alumni
46 Rolex Junior All-Americans
6 Rolex Junior Players of the Year
Erik Compton, 1998
Brian Harman, 2003, 2004
Charles Howell III, 1996
Hunter Mahan, 1999
Phil Mickelson, 1986, 1987, 1988
Jordan Spieth, 2009
4 AJGA alumni and THE PLAYERS Championship winners in the field
Matt Kuchar
Justin Leonard
Phil Mickelson
Sergio Garcia
Youngest player: Jordan Spieth, 20

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