Since the South Carolina Golf Association began the Pee-Wee Championship 24 years ago more than a handful of the 7 to 12 year old golfers have grown up to be college All-Americans and national championship winners.
Last year’s US Women’s Amateur champion Jensen Castle, from Columbia, first gained notice as the SCJGA Pee Wee Champion in 2013.
Lauren Stephenson, from Lexington, was the Pee Wee champ in 2010 and went on to be the national college player of the year at Alabama.
Trent Phillips, from Inman, was a two-time First Team All-American at Georgia.
Jonathan Griz, from Hilton Head won the 2016 Pee Wee title and just four years later became the youngest golfer to ever win the SCGA Amateur and soon will be in the line-up at Alabama.
Other young golfers careers are gaining momentum like Tip Price, Hugh Faulkner, Isabella Rawl and Madison Messimer, all after winning the Pee Wee championship.
This year four golfers finished on top of the boys and girls age group divisions in the tournament played at the Columbia Country Club.
Will McCraw could be the next outstanding golfer to follow Phillips and Jacob Bridgeman out of Inman.
The rising 7th grader at the Campobello-Gramling School was playing in his first Pee-Wee championship, but he was not a newcomer to tournament golf.
Like many kids, who have to age into some of the SCJGA events, McCraw already has experience playing in US Kids, Under Armour Tour and GSA tournaments.
The Pee-Wee championship is split into two nine hole segments played on the same day.
McCraw carded a 3-under par 33 on his first nine holes before the break to finish the first half of the tournament tied with Connor Wolfe from Blythewood.
“I wanted to be in the top-5 and I got off to a good start,” he said.
McCraw birdied three of his first four holes to take the lead, but Wolfe finished his first nine holes with three birdies in his last five holes to catch McCraw.
During the break between nines the young McCraw was talked out of getting in some extra practice by his father Jason.
“At lunch he told me to just let my mind relax instead of hitting balls,” he recalled.
It was good advice as McCraw started the second nine holes with a birdie. He didn’t bogey a hole on his second nine.
He shaved another shot from par with a birdie on his seventh hole and when he parred number 17 he thought he could finish with a win.
McCraw parred his final hole to shoot a 2-under par 34 and a 5-under par 67 for the Pee-Wee championship.
There is never anything bad that comes with a win, but McCraw was disappointed his Mom wasn’t with him in Columbia.
“She has told me when she was looking at scores that she was afraid she might miss me winning a big tournament, but we took a lot of pictures and face-timed so it was almost like she was there,” he said.
McCraw has been working with Kevin Britt for the last four years. Britt heads up the instruction program at the Carolina Country Club and believes he sees something special in McCraw.
“He reminds me of some of the kids I’ve worked with who went on to become college and pro golfers. He wants to get better and he works hard and still has fun,” said Britt.
Wolfe and Jack Coleman from Aiken finished tied for second.
Four Upstate juniors tied for fourth place. Heyward Jennings, and Thomas DeMint from Greenville along with Hunter Devriendt from Greenwood and Ty Childers from Gaffney all finished at 2-over par.
The girls championship was won by Kinley Brazell from Blythewood, finishing in front of AC Peake from Pauline.
The younger boys division (7-9) was won by Rilen Kozic from Gaffney, who finished with a 3-over par total of 75 for a 7-shot victory.
Chloe Crosby from Simpsonville won the girls (7-9) title over Liv Van Damme from Summerville.
Over 50 future stars took part in the competition.
Scores from the SCJGA Pee Wee championship https://scjga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/scjga22/event/scjga227/contest/1/leaderboard.htm
Categories: Junior Golf