The history of this eight-year old event is one that perfectly paints the picture of the sought-after prestige tournament founder Billy Dettlaff envisioned from day one. Champions include the likes of PGA TOUR players Morgan Hoffmann and Bobby Wyatt, while the complete list of the tournament’s alumni includes some of the top amateur and professional players in the world.
Hoffmann was the first champion of The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf, sealing his 2007 victory with rounds of 71-67-71.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Hoffmann said. “I was in kind of a slump that year because I had missed the cut at Rolex and one of the other Invitationals so I was really disappointed. I was really motivated going into that event because I love the course so much and to win was just really exciting for me. I even remember letting out kind of a scream and fist pump action on the final hole. It was a really cool tournament and especially to win the inaugural event was special.”
Spieth competed at the event in 2010, tying for second, and used his experience at the PGA TOUR’s PLAYERS Championship in 2014.
“We played very similar pin positions and similar tee boxes, even though we were in high school,” Spieth said. “I remember playing and I played well on Sunday and I got beat by a 30 footer up the ridge on No. 18. You play these golf courses you see later on and any experience is good experience and especially having that now in my rookie year on the TOUR, I can still draw back on that and it’s really helped.”
While Hoffmann and Spieth have moved on to a bigger stage, the full circle of The Junior PLAYERS Championship does not begin with the first tee shot at the event. In the 2014 field is a player who has watched the likes of Jordan Spieth and Gavin Hall compete and succeed at one of the top venues in the country. Jack Comstock of Jacksonville, Florida, served as a standard bearer from 2008-2011, and walked with Spieth during the final round in 2010. In 2014, he will make his Junior PLAYERS debut in front of a hometown crowd.
“It will be kind of cool to finally be able to play after carrying the sign for all those guys when I was younger,” Comstock said. “I was already playing local stuff so I just wanted to keep playing because it was my goal for a long time to get into the tournament.”
“I can’t wait to play TPC Sawgrass in a tournament. I have played the course so many times in practice so I’m looking so forward to having a big event there. I will have a lot of family out there since it’s so close to home. I’m just going to try and go at it like any other tournament, try to win.”
In cooperation with the PGA TOUR, the American Junior Golf Association has hosted the event at TPC Sawgrass in an effort to give juniors an experience as similar to the professionals’ at The PLAYERS Championship as possible. Traditionally, the AJGA replicates the course setup of the PGA TOUR’s PLAYERS Championship, as well as providing locker room access to the players and caddies for the week of competition.
Learn more about The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf and join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting @AJGAGolf and using the hashtag #JrPLAYERS.