Qualifying for U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior, along with Colorado Junior PGA Championship continue a hectic stretch for top junior golfers
By Gary Baines – 6/23/2021
The last half of June is busy for top-level junior golfers in Colorado.
No, that doesn’t do it justice. Make that BUSY — particularly on the girls side.
Things are always a bit hectic for elite-level juniors during the summer — that’s just the nature of golf in Colorado — but we’re talking back-to-back-to-back-to-back big-time events from June 15-30.
Here’s the lineup:
— The AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior, June 15-17 at Walnut Creek Golf Preserve. This is one of the most competitive junior tournaments of 2021 in Colorado — both on the boys and girls side.
— The girls state high school tournaments, June 21-22 (5A at Denver’s City Park Golf Course, 4A at CommonGround Golf Course and 3A at Pueblo’s Elmwood Golf Course). These events are typically held in late May, but Covid-19 safety concerns changed the schedule in 2021.
— U.S. Junior Amateur qualifying on Thursday (June 24) at CommonGround. The Junior Am is arguably the most prestigious championship for male junior golfers. This year, with the field size increasing to 264, five spots for the U.S. Junior Am will be up for grabs at this qualifier — instead of the usual two. The Junior Am itself is set for July 19-24 at the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst, N.C.
— U.S. Girls’ Junior qualifying on Thursday (June 24) at Lake Valley Golf Club in Niwot. Like the Junior Am on the boys side, the Girls’ Junior is the biggie for female junior golfers. Two berths into the Girls’ Junior will be at stake at Lake Valley, with the qualifiers advancing to the national championship July 12-17 in Chevy Chase, Md. Last year, the U.S. Girls’ Junior was scheduled for Eisenhower Golf Club at the Air Force Academy before both that championship and the Junior Am were canceled due to the pandemic.
— Then to close out the month, the first of the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado’s four majors of 2021, the Colorado Junior PGA Championship, is set for June 28-30 at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs, with boys and girls competitions on tap.
If you’re competing on all of those dates — as some girls will — it will be time to take a bit of a break come the end of the month.
Here’s a little more what to expect at the upcoming events:
— U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifying, Thursday at CommonGround GC in Aurora: As noted above, the field size for the U.S. Junior Am is jumping from 156 to 264, which means a lot more opportunities for locals to qualify, with five spots at stake. At CommonGround, 72 competitors will vie over 18 holes. Among those in the field are Owen Cornmesser, who recently won the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior; past boys state high school champions Jordan Jennings, Lucas Schulte and Will Kates; and JGAC major champions Wes Erling and Matthew Wilkinson. For Thursday’s pairings, CLICK HERE.
— U.S. Girls’ Junior Qualifying, Thursday at Lake Valley GC in Niwot: While the boys are competing at CommonGround, 28 girls will tee it up over 18 holes at Lake Valley for two spots into the national championship. Coloradan Kaylee Chen, who qualified for the 2019 U.S. Girls’ Junior, is back looking for a return trip. Canadian junior national team member Lauren Kim, who won the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior girls title by a whopping 12 strokes, is in the field, along with two players who won girls state high school titles on Tuesday: Katelyn Lehigh (5A) and Jessica Mason (4A). Emma Bryant, who has captured titles in two JGAC majors and one girls state high school tourney, also will compete. For Thursday’s pairings, CLICK HERE.
— Colorado Junior PGA, June 28-30 at Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs: At stake here will not only be boys and girls titles, but two spots in each tournament for the national Boys Junior PGA and Girls Junior PGA. The boys national championship is set for July 12-15 in Lexington, Ky., while the girls tourney is scheduled for July 27-30 in Louisville, Ky. At the 54-hole Colorado Junior PGA, last year’s JGAC Boys and Girls Players of the Year — Hunter Swanson and Aubri Braecklein, respectively — are in the field. Among those joining Swanson on the boys side are Cornmesser, Jennings, Erling, Kates and Wilkinson. In the girls tournament, besides Braecklein, the 2021 3A state champion, are Bryant, Lehigh and Mason. For the entire field, CLICK HERE.