PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida - Jay Leng Jr., of San Diego, Calif., Jeffrey Guan of Bexley, Australia, and Joshua Bai of Auckland, New Zealand, lead The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by Rolex by one stroke after carding 5-under-par 67s in round one.
Thanks to a longtime partnership between the PGA TOUR and the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), 78 of the world's top-ranked male junior golfers, invited through the Rolex AJGA Rankings, will compete in a 54-hole, stroke-play event mirroring THE PLAYERS Championship setup, hole locations, and three-hole aggregate playoff format. Rolex also added support in 2022 becoming a presenting partner.
The 16th annual Junior PLAYERS Championship showcases the best of the next generation of future college and professional stars. To date, 45 past players have graduated to play in the PGA TOUR's PLAYERS Championship. Justin Thomas became the first Junior PLAYERS Championship alumni to win the professional event in 2021. He competed as a junior in 2008 and 2009.
Representatives from a record-high 14 foreign countries and 18 U.S. states (seven from Florida) are competing in one of the AJGA’s annual top boys fields, featuring seven of the top 10 boys in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Of the 78 boys competing, 42 players are signed or verbally committed to play college golf. There are 11 sets of future college teammates in the field led by Stanford with four and the University of Oklahoma with three players committed.
Leng Jr. who is competing in his first The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by Rolex got off to a hot start with birdies on four of his first five holes. He carded three more birdies throughout the round, including in the closing stretch on No. 16.
It was a pretty good round out there today. It was stress-free with a lot of good birdie looks and I made a lot of them. It was really fun playing TPC Sawgrass for the first time. I really enjoyed playing hole 17, I made a par there today.
Bai also played well on the front nine with four birdies, including two in his first four holes and one to close out the front nine. He kept the card clean on the back with three birdies and no bogeys to sit tied atop the leaderboard heading into the second round.
I think I made good decisions out there on the course today. To be able to watch the pros do it on tv and then to be here in person is so cool. I loved No. 17 and just thought to try and keep it dry.
Guan is playing in only his second AJGA tournament. His first was the UNIQLO / Adam Scott Junior Championship in February, which he won. Guan birdied four of his first six holes and closed out the front nine with an eagle to shoot 31 going out. The back nine was a wash for Guan with three birdies and three bogeys. Guan and fellow leader Bai are two of the 12 players who will be competing for the International team at the Junior Presidents Cup later in September.
It's really special to be able to play out here. This course has a lot of prestige. The experience has been unreal and it really feels like the players out here. I'm just going to keep working my game and hopefully things will work out.
Rounding out the top five are Jon Ed Steed of Enterprise, Alabama, and Kelvin Hernandez of Gurabo, Puerto Rico, at 4-under-par 68.
Second-round tee times will run from 8:10-10:10 a.m. off Nos. 1 and 10 at TPC Sawgrass - THE PLAYERS Stadium Course on Saturday, September 3.