Justin Thomas made history on March 15, 2021, at THE PLAYERS Championship.
He's won big events - 14 on the PGA TOUR to be exact - but the 27-year-old became the first AJGA alum to graduate from The Junior PLAYERS Championship ranks and raise the coveted gold trophy.
Thomas, a two-time Rolex Junior All-American as a junior golfer, has hosted his own AJGA tournament since 2016 and spends time on-site hitting shots with sponsors and sharing advice with juniors. He also supports kids who need a financial boost to play through his ACE Grant endowment.
Thomas, who led the contingent of 14 Junior PLAYERS Championship alumni to make the cut from the original 29, competed twice at TPC Sawgrass as a junior (2008 and 2009). Other familiar faces who lined the leaderboard 10+ years ago include Talor Gooch (T3, 2008) and Patrick Rodgers (T3, 2009).
In 2021, Gooch used a final-round 5-under-par 67 to finish T5 at THE PLAYERS, good for his third top PGA TOUR finish of the season. The 29-year-old former Rolex Junior All-American made 22 birdies during the event - tied for the most - and nearly hit a hole-in-one on No. 13.
In addition, Doug Ghim, one of six Junior PLAYERS Championship alumni to make the pro debut at TPC Sawgrass in 2021, was near the top of the leaderboard going into the final round.
The three-time Junior PLAYERS Championship alum – 2011, 2012, and 2013 – locked down his best finish inside the top 10 in his final year as a junior thanks to a final round 3-under-par 69. Fellow grad Collin Morikawa finished fifth.
Ghim, a former ACE Grant recipient, has come full circle.
From the kid who grew up playing twilight golf and using acetone to remove marks from golf balls fished out of water hazards, he has endowed an ACE Grant and supports the program as his charity of record on the PGA TOUR. Few people speak with the same passion as he can about the critical importance of the initiative started in 2003.
I only have fond memories of the AJGA. As someone who watched his parents count every penny to make sure I could play, it’s only fitting to try to give back. The better and better I get, hopefully the better impact I can make. Everything I got to do, from playing in the Masters to getting a scholarship at UT … a lot of it I owe to the AJGA. Hopefully we have more and more success stories that surpass my story. I do my best now to give back, and I promise to make sure I keep giving back and take it to new heights the further I get.
In total, Junior PLAYERS Championship alumni walked away with $4.7 million in prize money:
WIN - Justin Thomas -14
T5 - Talor Gooch -11
T9 - Daniel Berger -8
T9 - Matthew Fitzpatrick -8
21 - Will Zalatoris -6
T22 - Dylan Frittelli -5
T22 - Tyler McCumber -5
T29 - Joaquin Niemann -4
T29 - Doug Ghim -4
T41 - Collin Morikawa -2
T48 - Jordan Spieth -1
T55 - Denny McCarthy E
T58 - Kramer Hickok +1
T65 - Patrick Rodgers +3