Hear from the 2018 South Carolina Junior Golf Association Jay Haas Player of the Year Jonathan Griz in this interview.
Griz wins SCJGA Player of the Year Award
Not many young golfers have the determination and confidence to set winning the junior player of the year award as a goal.
Not many young golfers have the skill and commitment to put in the work to get the results that earn the award.
Jonathan Griz is not just any young golfer. As a 14 year old last year, the Bluffton golfer exploded on the Palmetto state junior scene and achieved his goal. He won the 2018 Jay Haas Junior Player of the Year Award.
Griz received the award from the long time PGA Tour golfer in a presentation at Thornblade Club.
“I knew I was good enough,” said the award winner. ” Not many people know how hard I work at it. I grew a lot during the summer and I hit the ball far enough to compete with the big guys and beat them. Here I am, I did it,”said Griz.
Victories in the Carolinas Junior PGA, the Harvey Brock Orange Jacket Classic, the Hilton Head Amateur and the Bobby Chapman Junior served notice that Griz’s talent and hard work had paid off.
In two of his victories Griz set records that may be very difficult to break. He became the youngest player (14 years old) to ever win the Orange Jacket overall championship and the youngest golfer to win the prestigious Chapman title.
Griz came from 6-shots off the lead to win his first nationally recognized junior championship and opened the door to many other major junior championships.
“I told my dad before the final round that something special was going to happen and it did. I shot a 64 and passed 16 other guys to win,” he said.
Griz won a spot in the USGA Junior and qualified for match play at the championship held at the legendary Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey. He won his first round match to advance to the round of 32 before being eliminated.
“I didn’t start getting into the really big junior events until the end of the year. I’m 16th in the AJGA Rolex rankings so I will be able to play in all the big events this year,” Griz said.
The victories Griz claimed last year are impressive, but so were the 16 top-10s he carded in other tournaments. Griz finished the year with a 72.22 scoring average in the ranked events considered for the award.
The Player of the Year Award winner is determined by the season long Heritage Foundation Junior Rankings. This was the first year the South Carolina Junior Golf Association did not rely exclusively on points standings.
The ranking system reflected the play of every player in a tournament field, not just the top 20 as in years past. The player’s scoring against the course rating for that particular tournament course also factored in to the rankings.
Griz finished in front of Gene Ziegler from Florence. Nick Mayfield from Rock Hill, Drayton Stewart from Charleston and Bronson Myers from Columbia round out the top-five.
Complete Heritage Boys Ranking http://scjga.shotstat.com/Public/Rankings
Griz is currently 16th in the Rolex AJGA ranking and 96th in the Golfweek ranking of all junior boys.
His successful year has created a number of opportunities to play more national events in 2019. It also created a new challenge for Griz.
While it is possible to be the South Carolina Player of the Year based on an impressive resume in national events it is an important part of the ranking system to play and be successful in state events.
“I know I can’t play in all the state events, but I want to play in as many as I can. I want to play in the bigger ones because I want to win the player of the year award again,” he said.
Griz hopes to break Georgia freshman Trent Phillips, from Boiling Springs, record of three straight player of the year awards.
In addition to the opportunities his outstanding year has given Griz it also has helped him decide to reconsider his early commitment to play college golf at Clemson.
“I decommited from Clemson. I made my commitment too early before I could consider all the opportunities I have. I am still considering Clemson, but I want to look at other schools like Alabama, Oklahoma State and Arizona State to see which school can best help me reach my goal of being number 1,” he said.
Even with the wins and the awards Griz is not satisfied with his game and knows he has work to do to reach his ultimate goal.
“I need to get better at putting, but mentally when the pressure is on I’ve got to keep my heart rate down. I believe if I can do that I can be unbeatable this year,” concluded the junior player of the year.
The SCJGA and LPGA Hall of Fame golfer Beth Daniel presented the Beth Daniel Girls Player of thee Year award to Abigail Schimpf from Daniel Island at a ceremony held at the Country Club of Charelston last month.
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