Hilton Head Island’s Savannah Hylton finished third and a pair of HHI golfers finished in the top 25 on the boys side at the sixth annual Dustin Johnson World Junior Championship from March 5-7 at the TPC of Myrtle Beach.
One of the strongest junior tournament fields in the country, the World Junior Championship welcomed 90 of the nation’s best junior golfers, with 30 girls and 60 boys competing in the prestigious 54-hole event.
The impressive field had 76 players ranked in Golfweek’s top 100 junior golfers in the United States. The “DJ,” as it is affectionately nicknamed, is an unofficial major on the junior golf circuit and a title all junior golfers want to grab during their junior careers.
Sunday’s final round did not disappoint in the drama category. Both the boys and girls divisions saw golfers come back to take the championship. On the girl’s side, Jacqueline Putrino (Sarasota, FL) started the day three shots back but drained an 18-foot sidewinding birdie putt on the par-5 18th hole for a round of 75 and a three-day total of 6 over par to edge fellow Floridian Hyo Joon Jang by one shot and Hylton by two.
Hylton’s impressive third place finish was a product of her enviable consistency, carding rounds of 75-75-74 over the three-day tournament. The Furman Paladin commit is rounding into form as the busy spring season kicks off.
On the boys side, Nicholas Dunlap (Huntsville, Ala.) overcame a one-shot deficit after the first two rounds to win. Dunlap’s 3-under par finish was highlighted by a sizzling 5-under 67 second round but followed up by a steady 75 on a difficult Sunday.
Dunlap won by two shots over Luke Clanton (Miami Lakes, FL), Brendan Valdes (Orlando, FL), and 36-hole leader Maxwell Ford (Peachtree Corners, GA). Ford, who will play for the powerhouse University of Georgia program next year, carded a disappointing 78 on Sunday with a triple on the devilish par-4 15th hole derailing his chances at victory.
Hilton Head Island golfers Jonathan Griz and Max Green made the 36-hole cut and tied for 21st with a three-day total of 10 over par.
Green, a West Virginia commit, was in ninth place after round one with a crafty 1-over-par 73, but his momentum was minimized with a 78 in round two. Meanwhile, Griz followed up a ho-hum first round 77 where he saw only one birdie with a solid 74 second round to qualify for the final round. Both Griz and Green shot 75s in their final rounds.
Junior Heritage champion Jack Turner (Orlando FL) also made the 36-hole cut and finished tied for 25th with a 12-over-par result.
By Brian Rietveld