If the SCGA Junior is the equivalent of a US Open, then the Grant Bennett Florence Junior Invitational is like the Masters for young Palmetto state golfers.
Drew Harrill not only got his first SCJGA Major, but his first win period with a convincing victory in this year’s Grant Bennett at the Florence Country Club.
The Spartanburg golfer did it with a birdie barrage. He finished the 54 hole event at 201, 14 under par to claim a 6-shot victory carding 16 birdies and a pair of eagles along the way.
“I did make a lot of birdies,” Harrill said. “Most of them were because I hit good iron shots into the greens. I probably didn’t make anything outside of 18 feet. I didn’t have to because I was hitting it close,” he offered.
Harrill started the tournament with a solid 3-under par 68. In the round he made 4-birdies and an eagle and trailed first round leader Max Green from Hilton Head by 3-shots.
He followed it up with his best round of the tournament carding a 6-under par 65 which included 7-birdies and an eagle. Harrill took a one shot lead on the strength of his second round play.
In the final round Harrill didn’t waste any time stretching his lead. He made four birdies on the first nine to build an insurmountable lead on his way to a final round 4-under par 67 with 5-birdies.
“I only made one birdie on the back nine, but it wasn’t because I stopped trying to make birdies. Even with the lead I thought the best way to keep it was to keep trying to make more birdies,” he said.
This was the third time Harrill has played in the Bennett Tournament at Florence. While his home club is The Country Club of Spartanburg, Harrill felt right at home on the course 170 miles from Spartanburg.
“The course just seemed to fit my game. It is a lot like Spartanburg. The greens are undulating and I had a good feel for the way the putts would roll. There were also a couple of places I could pitch the ball past the hole and have it come back for a good putt,” said Harrill.
Green shot a final round 1-over par 72 to hold on to second place.
A pair of Woodruff golfers finished in a three way tie for third place. Daniel Brasington and Trey Howard each finished with even par rounds of 71 to tie Beaufort’s Jerry Bruns nine shots behind the winner.
Greenville’s Walker Jennings closed out the tournament with a 3-under par 68 to finish in sixth place while Jay Lowder from Greenville, Griffin Tarver from Tega Cay and Cameron Biddle from Aiken all tied for seventh place.
Harrill knows his victory over a very strong field gives his game a major boost of confidence.
“I wish we could have played the high school season, but I’ve been able to work on my game and I think I have become a better player and one that belonged with the leaders in this tournament. I came off the course pretty satisfied,” he added
Harrill was also happy that so many family members were able to come to Florence to see him win.
“My parents were able to be here and so were my grandparents. I didn’t except them all to be here and it was a great surprise to share this with them,” concluded the new Grant Bennett champion.
Harrill will have a busy scheduled the rest of the summer. He will play in the Spartanburg County Junior at his home club and hopes to qualify for the state amateur at Willow Creek. He also expects to play in the junior match play championship in Conway, the Blade at Thornblade and the Beth Daniel Junior Azalea in Charleston.
Age group division champions included, Under 10 – Connor Wolfe from Blythewood, 11-12, 1-Owen Atkinson from Columbia, 2-Will Ruth from Moore. 13-14, 1-Dallas Johnson from Mount Pleasant, 2-Walker Felton from Mount Pleasant.
Complete scores from the Grant Bennett Florence Junior are available at https://scjga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/scjga20/event/scjga208/contest/9/leaderboard.htm