The third event of the JGAA’s Junior Masters Series, the Willie Low Invitational presented by MJ Insurance kicks off June 8-9 at Phoenix Country Club. The 36-hole, invitation-only event is tailored to Arizona junior golfers with the desire and ability to compete locally against their top-ranked peers. The late Willie Low joins local professional golfers Charlie Beljan and Bryce Molder as high-profile tournament ambassadors for the newly created Junior Master Series.
“Willie Low truly set an incredible example of helping junior golfers reach their potential in the game,” said Scott McNevin, Executive Director of the JGAA. “It’s an honor to have one of our Junior Masters Series events bear his name.”
The field for the event is limited to players who were invited to compete by virtue of their national ranking according to Junior Golf Scoreboard – boys must be in the top 3,000 and girls in the top 1,500. Plus, players who have competed well in the JGAA Championship Division were also invited. Tee times for both rounds are scheduled for 7:30-9:27 a.m. off No. 1 and No. 10 tees, with lunch each day and an awards ceremony following play on Tuesday. Live scoring can be found here.
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 talents 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.
Low began his golf career at Lakeside Golf Club in Los Angeles during the 1920s where he became lifelong friends with the likes of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and other celebrities. Low came to the Valley in 1931 as the Head Golf Professional at Phoenix Country Club and stayed there until his retirement in 1972. He was awarded the Anser Award by the Southwest Section PGA in 2004, honoring individuals whose positive efforts have influenced the history of Arizona golf. Low is also a member of the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame.
Boys Division Player Highlight
Mason Andersen of Gilbert enters the field on the heels of two wins in May at the Yuma City Junior Championship and the Tucson City Junior Championship, as well as a fifth-place finish at the Charlie Beljan Invitational.
Also from Gilbert, Brock Goyen was invited to play in the Willie Low Invitational after placing first in the Desert Mashie Spring Championship, and third in the in the Yuma City Junior Championship.
After exceptional play in the Boys 13-14 Division including wins in the Spring Stableford, Tucson Spring Classic, Yuma City Junior Championship and Tucson City Junior Championship, John Menne of Surprise springboards up a division to Boys Championship status in the Willie Low Invitational.
Phoenix’s Daniel Thompson also moved up a notch to enter the field after winning in the Boys 13-14 Division at the Phoenix Metro Junior Championship, and a trio of runner-up finishes at the New Year’s Shootout, Desert Mashie Spring Championship and Spring Stableford.
Girls Division Player Highlight
Ashley Menne, of Surprise, moves up to the Girls Championship Division after stellar performances in the Girls 13-14 Division that included five victories at the Desert Mashie Spring Championship, Spring Stableford, Tucson Spring Classic, Yuma City Junior Championship and Tucson City Junior Championship.
Tucson’s Haylin Harris notched a third-place finishes in Phoenix Metro Junior Championship and Desert Mashie Spring Championship and a fifth-place finish in the Thunderbird Invitational, all in the Girls Championship Division.
Phoenix’s Mikayla Fitzpatrick builds on her success in the Girls Championship Division where she won the Phoenix Metro Jr Championship and Desert Mashie Spring Championship. She also notched second and fourth-place finishes in the Tucson City Junior Championship and Yuma City Junior Championship, respectively.
Eve Worden jumps up to the Girls Championship Division to compete in the Willie Low Invitational after three second-place finishes in the Girls 13-14 Division at the Desert Mashie Spring Championship, Tucson Spring Classic and Tucson City Junior Championship.
The JGAA’s Junior Masters Series consists of five regular tournaments and one Series Championship at some of the most prestigious courses in Arizona. Dates and venues for the balance of the schedule will be released soon. As with professional golfers Bryce Molder, Charlie Beljan and Willie Low, the JGAA will call on local PGA or LPGA players (past and present) to help launch each Junior Masters Series tournament.
“Our goal is to provide a competitive place for aspiring players to play,” said George Getz, 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.”
Openings for junior players from neighboring states will be dependent on availability at each event. Qualified junior players can sign up for the Junior Major Series by visiting www.jgaa.org. To learn more about the JGAA and the Junior Masters Series, contact Scott McNevin, JGAA Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 602-944-6168.