Skip to main content

Rylan Johnson and Gracie McGovern Win Willie Low Invitational

By June 30, 2022No Comments

Gilbert’s Rylan Johnson shot two, 7-under 64s at Phoenix Country Club to win the 2022 Willie Low Invitational presented by MJ Insurance at -14. Teeing off on the 10th hole in the first round, Johnson caught fire on the 14th hole, with birdies at 14, 15, 17 and 18 before promptly picking up two more on 1 and 2. Over the seven-hole stretch alone, Johnson, bound for Oregon State in the fall, went 6-under par. He then picked up one more birdie to record a bogeyless first round 64.

Mesa’s Johnnie Clark followed suit with a first round 7-under 64 of his own, which featured eight birdies and a lone bogey. Paired together in the final round, Johnson and Clark bolted out of the starting blocks:  Johnson 4-under par through five holes and Clark five-under par through seven. Both made the turn at 5-under 31, before a two-shot swing at No. 15 put Johnson one stroke ahead. It turned out to be the “camel’s nose under the tent,” as Johnson then reeled off three consecutive birdies to close out the win. Clark ended up with a second round 68 to take solo-second place at -10.

Johnson, 2021 JGAA Player of the Year, marched up the leaderboard in years past at the Willie Low Invitational presented by MJ Insurance, finishing T41, 6, T4 and T3, until victory at this prestigious PING Jr Masters Series tournament. With his second win of the season, Johnson sits 176 points behind Clark, who so far has posted an astonishing four victories in the race for 2022 JGAA Player of the Year.

Dallin Delgado (68-69) of Mesa came in third place at -5, and Nash Arthurs (71-68) of Peoria came in fourth place at -3. Two players finished T5 at -2:  Jack Dozer (71-69) of Phoenix bound for University of Denver and Vincent Cervantes (69-71) of Chandler.

In the Girls Championship division, Scottsdale residents Gracie McGovern and Talia Gutman both shot rounds of 74-70 to finish regulation play tied for first place at 2-over par. McGovern started the final round, making the turn at with a steady, 1-under 34. Gutman, who is set to play for Sonoma State University in the fall, on the other hand, put up a volatile 1-over on the outward nine. Tables turned on the inward nine, as McGovern weaved between birdie and bogey – including an eagle on No. 7 – to shot 1-under par in the second round. Gutman fell into a rhythm on the final nine, carding two birdies and seven pars to match McGovern at 2-over par for the championship.

The playoff ensued between McGovern and Gutman, with matching pars pushing the first two extra hole. On the third hole, the par-4 17th, Gutman’s recovery from fairway bunker gave McGovern the slight edge needed to prevail with a two-putt par. Her second win of the year, McGovern came in third place at last year’s Willie Low Invitational.

The event honors the late Willie Low, one of the Valley’s top golf professionals for nearly a half century who started the tournament in 1969.  It has been showcasing the talent of junior golfers from across the state since then with past winners including PGA TOUR golfers Billy Mayfair (1983 and ’84), Ted Purdy (1989), Charlie Beljan (2000) and LPGA player, Sara Brown (2004).  

Low influenced many of the Valley’s top juniors, including Howard Twitty and a young George Boutell who would later go on to win the 1962 Arizona Amateur Championship and then post a stellar career at Arizona State University, earning All American status.

The PING Junior Masters Series consists of five elite tournaments hosted at some of the most prestigious courses in Arizona. 

“Our goal is to provide a competitive place for aspiring players to play,” said Alex Clark, Chairman of the Board of the JGAA.  “This tournament series will allow kids to earn national-level points and will serve as a launching pad into nationally chartered events.”