1 Day to Go: 44th Boys Junior PGA Championship Begins Tuesday at Hartford’s Keney Park, July 30-Aug. 2

Field of 144 top junior golfers to compete for the Jack Nicklaus Trophy; 3 sets of brothers, including 16-year old twins David and Maxwell Ford, in field Back-to-Back Champion Akshay Bhatia reflects on his two titles

HARTFORD, Conn. (July 29, 2019) – With one day to go until the start of the 44th Boys Junior PGA Championship, a field of 144 of the top playing junior golfers are preparing to compete for the Jack Nicklaus Trophy at Hartford's Keney Park Golf Course, Tuesday-Friday, July 30-Aug. 2.
 
Among the top-ranked players in the field are: Kentucky's Canon Claycomb, a 2018 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team Member...Dallas' 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 Miami's Jake Beber-Frankel...70 college commits...three sets of brothers, including twins David and Maxwell Ford of the Atlanta-area...and there are now 9 players with Connecticut ties competing for the Championship. 

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. 2 for the Class of 2020 and No. 4 overall by Golfweek, Claycomb is committed to the University of Alabama. Canon and his brother, Cooper, are one of three sets of brothers in the field.
  • 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, Duangmanee finished as runner-up this year. At age 15, he 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. 6 for the Class of 2020 and a University of Virginia commit. George and his brother Josh are among three sets of brothers in the field.
  • David and Maxwell Ford, 16, Peachtree City, Ga. – A set of twins, who are one of three pairs of brothers in the field of 144 players (Claycomb and Duangmanee brothers in information above). David won five events over the past two years; Maxwell won two events and was second at the 2019 Junior Masters. Both Maxwell (No. 16) and David (No. 21) are ranked among the Top 25 players in the country.

Plus, there are 9 homestanding Connecticut natives competing for the Championship including:

  • 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
  • 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
  • William Celiberti, 18, Ridgewood, N.J. (Born in Greenwich) – 2019 Met Junior Champion
  • Jonathan Elkins, 18, S. Deerfield, Mass. (Born in Hartford) - Won Challenge Cup's Computer Merchant Cup
  • Tyler Woodward, 18, Durham, Conn. – 2nd Junior PGA Championship appearance
  • Jeremy Yun, 16, Old Saybrook, Conn. – 2019 AJGA Kansas Junior Champion

There will certainly be a new Boys Junior PGA Champion. Back-to-back Champion Akshay Bhatia is continuing his pursuit 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—is attempting to qualify for the Wyndham Championship, this week’s PGA Tour event in in North Carolina. Bhatia, 17, expects to turn professional in September at the Safeway Open, 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.”

This week at Keney Park, Bhatia’s heir apparent will be unveiled.

For more information, please visit JuniorPGAChampionship.com.

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