BOWLING GREEN, FLORIDA -- Benjamin James of Milford, Connecticut, went 23 holes bogey free en route to an inaugural Team TaylorMade Invitational victory at 14-under-par 202.
The Virginia verbal commit never relinquished his Moving Day lead and won his second national junior golf tournament in 10 days on the strength of three birdies on the opening nine holes of the final round.
You're just out there having fun and playing golf with your friends. It was a phenomenal round yesterday but I tried to re-center myself from all the excitement today. I've been starting out really well and putts have been falling. Once one falls, it gives you momentum to keep going.
The two-time Rolex Junior All-American celebrated his 18th birthday with a second round 9-under-par 63, good for the lead, T10 on the all-time AJGA Boys Division record book. The rising high school senior captured his second AJGA career win and fourth top-10 national junior golf finish since October 2020.
Georgians Ethan Gao of Alpharetta, and Maxwell Ford of Peachtree Corners, finished where they started on the 36-hole leaderboard at second and third, respectively.
Gao played 30 holes bogey free, including 18 from the second round, to end at 12-under-par 204. The Rolex Junior All-American matched James' play on the opening nine with both juniors birdying Nos. 2 and 6. Gao notched his second top-four finish in the past month.
Ford posted red numbers on four holes during the final round to wrap up a wild past 15 days at 11-under-par 205. The Georgia signee and Rolex Junior All-American has: graduated from high school and traveled more than 5,800 miles of cross-country travel. Ford was one of five players this week to also compete in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Chambers Bay. Ford secured his second top-five individual finish of 2021 at Streamsong Resort.
Luke Clanton of Miami Lakes, Florida, set the competitive course record on the Blue Course in the final round with a 10-under-par 62. The Rolex Junior All-American started the final round in 40th place and teed off with the second group on No. 10.
Clanton put together the AJGA's second-lowest 18-hole score in relation to par. Colin Kober set the bar at the 2013 Junior All-Star at Gray Plantation at 11-under-par 61.
These are the best players in the world. To be tied for second all-time and to have my name there is pretty cool. I’m definitely going to cherish it. You don't usually have a 62 in your mind on the first tee.
Clanton birdied his three opening holes and eagled No. 14, thanks to a 7 iron stuck to just over a foot. The Florida State verbal commit started the day 5-under-par through his first five holes and added a birdie on No. 17. He compiled nine total birdies over the last 18 holes against one bogey.
Tied for fifth at 8-under-par 208 were: Jay Brooks of Boca Raton, Florida, Caleb Surratt of Indian Trail, North Carolina, and Sihan Sandhu of Pinehurst, North Carolina.
In a tie for eighth at 7-under-par 209: Wells Williams of West Point, Mississippi, and first-round co-leader Jonathan Griz of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Rounding out the top 10 two strokes back with a 5-under-par 211 were: Jacob Sosa of Austin, Texas, and Bryan Lee of Fairfax, Virginia.
James and six other players in the Team TaylorMade Invitational top 10 are scheduled to tee it up again in two weeks at the Wyndham Invitational presented by Truist at Sedgefield Country Club, home of the PGA TOUR's Wyndham Championship.
About Team TaylorMade
TaylorMade has been involved with the AJGA as a product supplier and partner for more than 25 years, joining as an Official Partner in 2011 and investing fully as a National Sponsor in 2016. The Official Golf Ball of the AJGA, Team TaylorMade athletes Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Matthew Wolff, Collin Morikawa, Sierra Brooks, Maria Fassi, Sung Hyun Park, and Charley Hull all have ties to the AJGA as player alumni, tournament hosts or program supporters.
About TaylorMade Golf Company
Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, TaylorMade Golf is a leading manufacturer of high performance golf equipment, golf balls and accessories with industry-leading innovative products like SIM2 metalwoods, SIM2 irons, P Series irons, TP5/TP5X golf balls and Spider putters. A major force across the world's professional tours, TaylorMade has an unrivaled athlete portfolio that includes Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Matthew Wolff, Collin Morikawa, Harry Higgs, SH Park, Charley Hull, Maria Fassi and Sierra Brooks.