It may not mean as much to Jace Danbom today as it will in a few years, but the 14 year old from Easley won the overall championship at the Upstate Junior Classic and made some history.
With the win comes a special line in the record book. Danbom became the youngest overall champion in the 32 year history of the tournament played at Smithfields in Easley.
“It means a lot to win this,” said the new Upper State Junior champion. “I’ve been working my butt off with my dad to win this tournament,” he said.
The Upstate Junior lists among its past champions PGA Tour star Kevin Kisner, who won in 2000 and former Tour player Kyle Thompson who owns trophies from the 1994 and 95 tournaments.
Austin Langdale, Trace Crowe, Keenan Huskey and Caleb Proveaux to name just a few, all won in Easley before going on to success in college.
Danbom opened the 36 hole event with a 2-under par 70 to take the lead in his 13-14 year old age division.
Actually “take the lead” is misleading. Danbom was ahead of his division by 7-shots going into the final round.
“I’ve been working hard for a long time and my game has really improved over the last couple of months,” he said.
The Easley High School golfer added two more shots to his lead by carding a 2-over par 73 to win his age group by 9-shots.
Ordinarily Danbom would get his trophy, have his picture made and be on his way home.
Instead, in the Upstate Junior any golfer, playing the same course (same set of tees), can be the overall champion.
Danbom was the first to be just 14 when he accepted the overall winners’ trophy.
Gage Howard, from Woodruff had the first round lead in the boys 15-18 division. His 2-under par 70 tied Danbom for the overall lead with 18 holes to play.
Gage struggled in the second round and dropped back into a tie for 8th by the finish.
Jay Smith from Florence and OT Michell from Fort Mill trailed Gage by a shot after the first round and the two would battle with Cade Kriscunas from Hilton Head for the age group title on the final holes.
While the three were finishing their rounds, Danbom, who played earlier with the other 13-14 year olds, waited to see if his two-round total of 1-under par 143 would hold up.
“My short game has improved and I’ve added some distance,” he offered.
Smith birdied his final 3-holes to make a run at the leader, but some early round bogeys left him with a 1-over par 73 on his card and an even-par 144 for the tournament and second place.
Kriscunas finished in third at 2-over par 144, while defending champion Logan Lutz from Mount Pleasant and Drew Jeffords from Florence tied for 4th place.
Danbom got to take home a pair of trophies, one as the overall champion and the other as the 13-14 year old division winner finishing in front of Belton’s Bennett Scaletta and Ben Smith from Gaffney.
Danbom has a busy schedule planned for the summer.
“I’m going to play in all the majors and keep working to get better,” he said.
Jack Coleman from Florence won a sudden death playoff with Will McCraw from Inman for the boys 10-12 year old championship. On Sunday the result was the other way around as McCraw topped Coleman for the state Pee-Wee title.
In the girls championship, Anne Fernandez from Bluffton posted rounds of 1-under par 71 and 2-under par 70 for a winning total of 3-under par 141.
Fernandez finished well in front of Emily Baker from Chapin who was second at 151.
The field of over 120 golfers was the largest in recent memory. The event which came close to being lost before the SCJGA took over its operation now has flourished for several years in a row.
Scores from the Upstate Junior Championship https://scjga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/scjga22/event/scjga2212/contest/13/leaderboard.htm
Categories: Junior Golf