A New Champion Will be Crowned at the 44th Boys Junior PGA Championship at Hartford’s Keney Park, July 30-August 2
- Category: Inside Golf
- Published: 2019-07-29
By PGA OF AMERICA
HARTFORD, Connecticut — There will be a new Boys Junior PGA Champion crowned at Keney Park Golf Course, in Hartford, July 30-Aug. 2.
A field of 144 of the top playing junior golfers will vie for the Jack Nicklaus Trophy and a place in history including: Canon Claycomb, a 2018 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team Member; Tommy Morrison, the No. 1 ranked boys player for the Class of 2023—who underwent heart surgery two weeks after being born; the son of an Academy Award-winning Director in Jake Beber-Frankel; 70 college commits; and eight Connecticut natives (see “Players to Watch” below).
Meanwhile, back-to-back Champion Akshay Bhatia will pursue his dream of playing on the Tour. The only two-time winner of the Boys Junior PGA Championship—which has featured Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and numerous PGA Tour players over the years—will attempt to qualify for the Wyndham Championship, next week’s PGA Tour event in in North Carolina. Bhatia, 17, expects to turn professional in September, four months before he is old enough to vote.
The last two years of the Boys Junior PGA Championship have catapulted him into “phenom” category and highlighted the magnitude of the event. After rewriting virtually every record at St. Albans Country Club near St. Louis in 2017, Bhatia went all-in last year at Valhalla Golf Club, in Louisville, with a 40-foot chip for eagle, to win on the 72nd hole—the miraculous shot made No. 1 on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 highlights.
“The Junior PGA Championship is where my career kickstarted,” Bhatia explained. “The whole experience felt like a Tour event. The chip was the ‘clutchest’ and coolest moment of my life.”
Next week at Keney Park, Bhatia’s heir apparent will be unveiled.
Players to Watch
Canon Claycomb, 17, Bowling Green, Ky. – Claycomb is the 2017 PING Invitational Champion and both a 2018 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup and 2017 U.S. Junior Presidents Cup Team member. He competed in the 2018 Australian Amateur and was named a first-team 2018 Rolex Junior All-American. Ranked No. 3 for the Class of 2020 by Golfweek and No. 5 in the overall AJGA rankings, Claycomb is committed to the University of Alabama.
Tommy Morrison, 14, Dallas – Ranked No. 1 for the Class of 2023, Morrison won the individual medalist title and led his school to the 2018 NCISAA Division 2A Championship at age 13. Now a towering presence at 6 feet 8 inches tall, Morrison was born with pulmonary valve stenosis and underwent heart surgery two weeks later. He has raised several thousand dollars for New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, where he had the surgery.
Luke Clanton, 15, Miami Lakes, Fla. – Ranked No. 1 for the Class of 2022, Clanton finished second behind two-time Boys Junior PGA Champion Akshay Bhatia at the 2019 Dustin Johnson World Junior Championship. At age 14, he lost in a playoff to Jack Nicklaus’ son Gary Nicklaus (at age 49) for a qualifying spot in the U.S. Amateur.
Jake Beber-Frankel, 17, Miami – The son of Academy Award and Emmy Award winning Director David Frankel (Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me, Band of Brothers, Entourage), Beber-Frankel, 17, is one of the most colorful junior players, with his long, flowing hair. His grandfather, Max, won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage in the New York Times of President Nixon’s trip to China in 1973. Ranked No. 8 for the Class of 2020, Jake Beber-Frankel is a Stanford commit.
George Duangmanee, 17, Fairfax, Va. – After winning the 2018 AJGA Hunter Mahan Championship, he finished as runner-up this year. At age 15, Duangmanee won the 2017 U.S. Teen World Championship. He also captured first place for the Boys 12-13 Division at the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship at Augusta National Golf Club. A 2018 Rolex Junior All-American Honorable Mention, Duangmanee is ranked No. 7 for the Class of 2020 and a University of Virginia commit.
Homecoming: 8 Connecticut Natives in the Field:
- Alexander Gu, 17, Darien, Conn. - Won 2019 Connecticut PGA Section Boys Junior PGA Championship and 2019 CSGA State Open Champion
- Alex Aurora, 18, Hamden, Conn. - 2nd place 2019 Connecticut PGA Section Boys Junior PGA Championship
- Jonathan Elkins, 18, S. Deerfield, Mass. (Born in Hartford) - Won Challenge Cup’s Computer Merchant Cup
- Ben James, 16, Milford, Conn. – 2018 New England Junior Amateur Champion
- Will Lodge, 15, Darien, Conn. – Won Kerry Cup
- Christopher Fosdick, 18, Middlefield, Conn. – 2018 Junior Hub Champion
- Tyler Woodward, 18, Durham, Conn. – 2nd Junior PGA Championship appearance
- Jeremy Yun, 16, Old Saybrook, Conn. – 2019 AJGA Kansas Junior Champion
The 44th Boys Junior PGA Championship will be held 18 days after the 44th Girls Junior PGA Championship, which was won by Yuka Saso at Keney Park Golf Course. For more information, please visit JuniorPGAChampionship.com.