Maxwell Ford (Peachtree Corners, Ga.) and Andie Smith (Hobe Sound, Fla.) will take leads into Sunday’s final round of the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship Presented by Fujikura at TPC Myrtle Beach.
After finishing tied for third in last year’s event, Ford is in position to triumph against one of the strongest fields in junior golf. The University of Georgia signee shot a second round 69 and is 7 under par, leaving him one shot clear of Nicholas Dunlap (Huntsville, Ala.) in the boys tournament.
Ford got off to a hot start Saturday, making birdie on holes two, three and four, a perilous stretch. Consecutive bogies on 12 and 13 slowed his momentum, but he made four on the par 5 14th and parred out.
Dunlap will enter Sunday with momentum after firing a 5-under 67, the round of the tournament that matched the Dustin Johnson World Junior single-round record set previously by Trent Phillips (2017) and equaled by Gene Zeigler (2019). He thrust himself into contention by making birdie on five of the last eight holes and is 6-under. In third place is Brendan Valdes (Orlando, Fla.), who carded a 70 and is three shots back.
Smith, who teed off on No. 10, started the day three shots off the pace but birdied two of the first six holes to take a lead she never relinquished in the girls tournament. She carded a 34 on the opening nine and after making birdie on her 11th and 14th holes, pushed her lead to four and had control of the tournament.
After making bogey on the par-3 seventh hole (her 16th), Smith doubled No. 8, a stretch that reduced her cushion over second place Catherine Park (Irvine, Calif.) and Jacqueline Putrino (Sarasota, Fla.) to a still comfortable three shots.
Smith shot a 71 and is even par for the tournament.
A 54-hole, college-style event, the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship Presented by Fujikura features boys and girls tournaments and the 90-player field (60 boys, 30 girls) includes 74 top 100 juniors.
Forty-nine of the 60 boys are ranked among America’s top 100 juniors, including Auburn signee Brendan Valdes (Orlando, Fl.), who is No, 6, according to Golfweek magazine.
Twenty-five of the 30 girls competing are ranked among America’s top 100 juniors by either Golfweek or Junior Golf Scoreboard, a group led by No. 3 Hyo Joon Jang (Howey in the Hills, Fl.).
With the support of Johnson, the top-ranked golfer in the world, the tournament provides players a PGA Tour-like experience and the opportunity to test themselves against some of the game’s best juniors.
A significant part of the event’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.
The event’s past boys champions are: 2016 – Blake Taylor (East Carolina), 2017 – Trent Phillips (Georgia), 2018 – Michael Brennan, 2019 – Akshay Bhatia, and 2020 – Tyler Wilkes (Florida). The previous girls winners are: 2016 – Delaney Shah (Louisville), 2017 – Skylar Thompson (Ohio State), 2018-2019 – Alex Pano, 2020 – Taylor Roberts (Florida State).
Johnson’s involvement with the tournament reflects his long-time commitment to junior golf, particularly in South Carolina, where he grew into one of the world’s best players. Through the Dustin Johnson Foundation, which is headquartered in Myrtle Beach, Johnson has donated more than $500,000 to junior golf, sponsoring numerous events throughout the state and helping cover entry costs for kids who need financial assistance.
The Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship Presented by Fujikura is also sponsored by Founders Group International, the Dustin Johnson Golf School, and Golf Tourism Solutions.