Justin Thomas (left) won three tournaments with the AJGA.
Cameron Champ was a two-time Rolex Junior All-American before playing collegiate golf at Texas A&M.
Entering the third round out of contention at 2 under par, Justin Thomas carded the lowest round in relation to par in U.S. Open history to jump back into the conversation. With an eagle on No.18, Thomas shot a 9-under-par 63 to climb back to T2 on the leaderboard. Thomas trails Brian Harman by one stroke heading into the final round. Thomas was a two-time Rolex Junior All-American during his AJGA career. Harman is one of only four junior boys to win Rolex Junior Player of the Year in back-to-back years, joining Phil Mickelson, Tracy Phillips and Tiger Woods.
Other AJGA alumni are also in position to win their first major championship. Brooks Koepka is tied with Thomas at 12-under-par 205 entering Sunday's final round. First-round leader Rickie Fowler, a two-time Rolex Junior All-American in 2005-06, is two shots back at 10-under-par 206.
Cameron Champ and Scottie Scheffler have survived the first two rounds and become the only two amateurs to make the weekend of the 117th U.S. Open. The duo each attend Division I universities in the Lone Star State: Champ at Texas A&M and Scheffler at the University of Texas. The duo combined for five Rolex Junior All-America honors during their AJGA career, while Scheffler was named the Rolex Junior Player of the Year in 2013.
Champ surged into the top 10 at 5-under-par 139 after the first two rounds while leading the entire field in driving distance by two yards. Scheffler sits one stroke under par and is T33 after the second round.
The 117th U.S. Open, set to take place June 15-18, will again have a distinct AJGA influence. From current players to accomplished alumni and tournament hosts, many players with an AJGA affiliation will tee it up at Erin Hills in southern Wisconsin.
Juniors Walker Lee and Joaquin Niemann will make their debut in a PGA TOUR major. Lee, who has signed a National Letter of Intent with Texas A&M, earned his spot with a 10-under-par 132 at the Dallas sectional qualifying. Lee was a 2016 Rolex Junior All-American and earned an AJGA victory in 2013.
Niemann’s incredible 2017 season has culminated with his ascension to the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world. Niemann has won three consecutive nationally-ranked junior golf tournaments: the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Innisbrook, the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club and the Sergio Garcia Foundation Junior Championship.
Six AJGA alumni in the field will look to add a second U.S. Open trophy to their collection: Angel Cabrera, Jim Furyk, Lucas Glover, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth. Nine 2017 AJGA tournament hosts will also compete: Daniel Berger, Sergio Garcia, Bill Haas, Billy Horschel, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Spieth, Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland.
Garcia and Rose, in particular had success at the year’s first major, The Masters. After battling down the stretch, Garcia defeated Rose in a playoff to earn his first major championship. Garcia recently surprised juniors after the final round of the Sergio Garcia Foundation Junior Championship in May. Rose will host his first AJGA event at the Justin Rose Junior All-Star Invitational at Reynolds Lake Oconee in October.
The past four PGA TOUR champions have each been AJGA alumni as well as the past two U.S. Open victors (Spieth and Johnson). With such a heavy presence in the 156-player field, odds are that the leaderboard will be stacked full with AJGA alumni.