Local junior golfers fare well vs. international field at DJ

golf-Blake Taylor - Rd 2Blake Taylor of Atkinson, N.C., and China’s Zhu Wenqi used strong finishes to take three-shot leads after the second round of the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship.

Among local boys, Patrick Golden of Murrells Inlet and Matthew Griego of North Myrtle Beach are tied for 15th at 11 over, and Kevin Burris of Conway is tied for 34th at 17 over. In the girls, Smith Knaffle of Murrells Inlet is tied for 14th at 22 over and Jordan White of Myrtle Beach is tied for 27th.

Taylor and Graham Hutchinson of Bethesda, Md., were even heading into the 16th hole when the East Carolina signee separated himself with consecutive birdies. With temperatures falling along the with the afternoon sun, Taylor struck the ball beautifully over the last three holes and converted birdie putts on 16 and 17, getting him back to even par for the tournament.

Hutchinson had a three-putt bogey on the 18th, dropping him into a second place tie with Jamie Wilson of Mount Pleasant at 3-over par.

While Taylor finished with a flourish, he didn’t start that way, as he made double bogey on No. 2 and bogey on No. 3. After bogey on the 10th, Taylor was +4 on the day, but he turned his round and the tournament around with a birdie on the 11th.

On a day when the average score was just over 80, Nick Willis of Cowpens, S.C., and Avery Price of Gastonia, N.C., each shot even par 72, the best rounds of the day.

On the girls’ side, Wenqi, who began play two strokes behind first round leader Kathleen Sumner, bogeyed two of her first three holes but was resilient. She birdied her sixth hole to steady herself and took control of the event with birdies on her 16th and 17th holes.

Wenqi shot a 2-over 74, equaling the best round of the day on the girl’s side, and is +7 for the tournament, three strokes better than Kayley Marschke of Suwanee, Ga. Caroline Cahill is four shots back in third place.

The final round will tee off Monday morning at 8:30 a.m.

The Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship has attracted 90 kids from 12 states and eight countries to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the 54-hole event.

Among the countries represented at the event are Canada, China, England, Japan, Philippines, Scotland and Sweden. Nearly a quarter of the field will be comprised of international players.

A significant part of the tournament’s appeal is TPC Myrtle Beach, one of the Grand Strand’s most decorated layouts. TPC Myrtle Beach has hosted the Senior PGA Tour Championship and been ranked among “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” by Golf Digest, making it an ideal venue to test golf’s rising young stars.

With the support of Johnson, one of top 10 players in the world, the tournament will provide participants a PGA Tour-like experience, and the chance to challenge themselves against their peers from others parts of America and the world.

The Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship is being sponsored by Founders Group International, the Dustin Johnson Golf School, and Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday.

Photo courtesy of MB Golf Holiday

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