Aldrich Potgieter, the 2022 Amateur champion, and American Anna Davis, the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur winner, lived up to their billing to win the Boys and Girls Junior Invitational titles in wire-to-wire style on Saturday.
The Junior Invitational invites 60 elite junior golfers from around the globe to compete at Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, South Carolina annually.
South Africa’s Potgieter made a scorching start in the invitation-only tournament, firing seven birdies in a flawless round of seven-under-par 65 that earned him a six-shot advantage.
The GolfRSA National Squad member lead went unchallenged as he backed up his opening salvo with a second-round 70 in very windy conditions, and he closed out the victory with a final-round 68.
Potgieter became the third wire-to-wire winner in the event, and his opening round tied the fourth lowest in the tournament’s 12-year history.
The big-hitting Mossel Bay junior finished 10 strokes clear of runner-up Aaron Pounds (73, 69, 71) from the United States, and Byungho Lee (72, 69, 72) from South Korea and his winning total of 13-under-par 203 victory margin set a new record as the highest in the event, surpassing the eight-shot margin of Nick Reach in the inaugural event in 2011.
Donning the famous golden jacket, the Louis Oosthuizen Junior Golf Academy player said he relished the opportunity to tee it up against some of the top junior golfers in the world, including American Preston Stout, the No 1-ranked junior Boys player in the Golfweek.com junior golf rankings.
“It was an awesome week and I really enjoyed it,” said Potgieter, who will be making his debut in the 2023 Masters early next month, courtesy of his Amateur Championship victory.
“I played really well in the first round, but I had a slow start with seven pars in the second. Then I hit a bump with bogeys on the 8th and 9th holes. I knew there were some birdies out there on the back nine, and I managed to reel in four coming home.
“Today was another good round. I struggled for a stretch, like at the par-five 4th I missed a five-footer for birdie and then missed one on the 5th hole. So that was kind of a disappointing break, but I knew that the back nine had a lot of opportunities, especially three par fives. I was still confident enough to put a good score on the board.”
Davis fired rounds of 70, 69 and 70 to triumph on 209, defeating Nika Ito from Japan by two strokes.
“I went into the week wanting to win, thinking I was going to win,” said Davis, the second winner of the Girls Tournament who also became its first wire-to-wire winner. “I always had high expectations for myself.”
Two awards were also awarded to players for their accomplishments outside of the course. Pounds received the Paul S Simon Boys Character Award and Paula Martin was awarded the Dr Joe Bowden Girls Character Award.