Junior Golf

A national championship and a vacation at Disney World

Fireworks lit up the sky over Disney World during the Under Armour Junior Tour Summer Nationals being played at the Magnolia and Palm courses at the theme park in Orlando.

The highlight for most kids summer vacation would be a trip to Disney World.

Take a ride on Dumbo, be part of a Star Wars adventure or try to eat a great big turkey leg at the “happiest place on earth.” It could be the subject of what I did on my summer vacation essay when school starts in a few weeks.

Most kids would be satisfied with that kind of a trip, but 11 junior golfers from the upstate not only wanted to see Mickey they wanted to win a golf tournament.

The young golfers from the Greenville-Spartanburg Under Armour Junior Tour chapter played in the UA National Championship at the “happiest place on turf,” the two Disney courses in Orlando.

The trip turned out to be fun for all the kids and rewarding for a few of the top finishers in the tournament.

Spartanburg’s Davis Petty earned a National Championship when he won a playoff for the 9-11 year old age group title. Last year he won the US Kids 9 year old championship in a different junior series.

Just like the pros, Davis Petty gives his winners trophy a little kiss after claiming the 9-11 year old title at the Under Armour Junior Tour Summer Nationals.
Petty won the age group championship in a sudden death playoff at Disney World.

Just for perspective, the 9-year old US Kids Junior title was once won by Boiling Spring’s Trent Phillips, who is arguably the best junior golfer ever in South Carolina and now is a 3-time All-American at Georgia.

On the Disney World Magnolia and Palm courses the young phenom was 5-under par after 32 holes of the scheduled 36 hole tournament. And he was tied for the lead with daylight running out.

“The tournament officials stoped the tournament after 14 holes in the second round,” said Chip Ridley, the PGA Professional at The Creek in Spartanburg. 

Ridley is the local chapter’s leader which is headquartered at The Creek. “It was getting dark and they didn’t think everyone could finish the final 18 holes,” he said.

After 14 holes Petty and Tyrer Bookman from Nashville were tied at 5-under par. With the light fading, tournament officials decided the two would playoff for the championship.

“It wasn’t too bad for the first hole, but the second hole we played it was getting pretty dark,” said Petty. “They told us if we were still tied after the second hole we would be co-champions,” he said.

Petty didn’t want to tie, he wanted a win and he got it. He parred the second playoff hole to win the 9-11 year old age group title at the Summer Nationals shortly before 9 pm.

“I hit a lot of good shots and was really close with my irons. My putting was good and I was able to make the putts,” he said.

The young golfers played the course at about 5,000 yards. Petty was 1-under par in the first round and 4-under par in the second round when the decision was made to cut the round short.

Petty, who is not much taller than his driver, used his length off the tee to help with the win.

If it seems like the young Spartanburg golfer is winning every age group competition he plays, Petty quickly points out there have been a few that have gotten away from him.

“I had a stretch of three or four tournaments that I didn’t win, but winning this gets me back to winning,” said Petty.

In the 9-11 year old division, won by Petty, there were four other upstate golfers.

Grayson Cunningham finished 36th, Pete Revis finished 37th and Ian McPherson just missed finishing in the top-50.

The upstate group had six players in the 12-14 year old tournament. Dawson Szabo finished third in the age group division.

Trevor Blanton finished in 20th place while Parker Homesley, Alex Weathers and Caleb Crawley all gained experience playing in a national event.

Max Ginter competed in the 15-18 year old division and finished in the top half of the 92 player field.

Before, after and during the tournaments the kids and their families got to enjoy Disney World.

Even Petty, who plays the game with all the cool of a long time tour pro and not a 10 year old kid, enjoyed his time in the theme park.

“I liked Disney World it was fun, but I liked winning the golf tournament a lot more,” concluded the young champion.

There was also a team competition and the Greenville-Spartanburg chapter finished fourth.

Petty and the kids from Spartanburg will next play in a PGA Junior League regional in Charlotte. 

After the tournament at Raintree Country Club, Petty and many of the same kids will be on their way to Pinehurst where Petty could win his second world title at the US Kids Championship.

Pretty cool summer vacation!

Pete Revis had to wait his turn while an alligator played through during the tournament.

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