The most recent edition of the Masters Tournament held in Augusta, Ga., just a few hours southeast of the AJGA’s National Headquarters in Braselton, Ga., featured several AJGA alumni with their games in high gear.
Phil Mickelson produced one of the most memorable back-nine performances in Masters history to win his first major championship and 23rd PGA TOUR victory. With that performance, what some are calling the best Masters finish ever, the AJGA National Chairman added another chapter to a memory book decades in the making.
He was named the Rolex Junior Player of the Year three years-in-a-row from 1986-1988, and also won the Rolex Tournament of Champions in each of those years—two AJGA records that still stand today. Mickelson also holds the AJGA record for most AJGA career wins at 12, with Bob May, Tiger Woods and Charles Howell III tied for second with eight career wins.
In addition to his world-class career on the golf course, Mickelson is also known for his contributions outside the ropes. Not only is he the AJGA National Chairman, but he supports the Thunderbird International Junior, played out of his home course at Grayhawk Golf Club, through the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation. His vision for an international competition featuring champions from around the world has led to the creation of one of the most competitive events on the AJGA schedule, now in its fourth year.
This year’s low amateur at the Masters was former Rolex Junior Player of the Year Casey Wittenberg. With an even-par 288, the Oklahoma State freshman finished in a tie for 13th and turned in the best score and finish at the Masters by an amateur since 1962. Like Mickelson, Wittenberg shot a final-round, back-nine 31.
Wittenberg and Mickelson have another tie, as Wittenberg won the Thunderbird International Junior in 2002. And, like Mickelson, Wittenberg’s impressive play earned him a return trip to Augusta.
The next-best finish by an amateur was by AJGA alum Brandt Snedeker, who finished tied for 41st. Snedeker, who turned pro April 12, played with the AJGA in the late ’90s.