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Players to watch: Dustin Johnson World Junior
Defending champions Alexa Pano and Michael Brennan (Photo courtesy DJ World Junior)
Defending champions Alexa Pano and Michael Brennan (Photo courtesy DJ World Junior)

As the junior golf season heats up, the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship is growing into a must-play for some of the nation’s top juniors. In its fourth year, the 54-hole college-style event at TPC Myrtle Beach will include both 2018 champions as well as several top-100 juniors in the U.S.

Johnson’s involvement has not only helped the field grow, but also has infused a new level of competition into the event.

The tournament will be played March 1-3. Here are a few players to watch from each field:

BOYS FIELD

Yuki Moriyama
Golfweek Junior Ranking: 23
The skinny: Moriyama, a high school junior from Las Vegas, keeps showing up in all the biggest events – and more importantly, he contends in them. He ended 2018 with a win at the FCG National Championship and was in the top 10 at the Junior Orange Bowl to start 2019. Other top performances recently include a 16th-place finish at the Jones Cup Junior, a top 10 at the Rolex Tournament of Champions and a top 20 at the Junior Players Championship.

Dillon Stewart
Golfweek Junior Ranking: 52
The skinny: These days, any player wearing a Pistol Pete logo draws attention. That’s the case with Oklahoma State signee Stewart, a high school senior from Ft. Collins, Colo. According to the Coloradoan, Stewart drew Cowboy head coach Alan Bratton’s attention when he shot a nine-hole course record at an Oklahoma State golf camp. The 17-year-old is among Colorado’s best junior golfers, and a player who utilizes every ounce and inch of his small frame.

Chase Sienkiewicz
Golfweek Junior Ranking: 123
The skinny: Sienkiewicz, a high-school senior from Carmichael, Calif., who is headed to the University of Arizona in the fall, won the AmateurGolf.com Christmas Classic in December amid a field full of college players. He also finished in the top 10 at the Sacramento City Championship in 2018. Sienkiewicz is a tall, powerful player who could fare well on the TPC Myrtle Beach layout.

Michael Brennan
Golfweek Junior Ranking: NA
The skinny: Brennan, of Leesburg, Va., is the defending champion in Myrtle Beach, and his past record of title defenses speaks well for him. Brennan was 15 years old when he completed an improbably run to the 2017 Middle Atlantic Amateur title and was 16 in October when he defended it. The now-17-year-old attributed his success in that event to figuring out how to control his emotions on the course. Brennan’s 2018 also included a top-5 finish at the Eastern Amateur, a field loaded with college talent.

John Daly II
Golfweek Junior Ranking: NA
The skinny: Daly will be instantly recognizable to golf fans as the son of PGA Tour player John Daly. The pair finished T-2 at the PNC Father/Son Challenge in December after having finished T-9 in the event the past two years. The younger Daly, 15, is a student at Bishops Gate Golf Academy in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.

GIRLS FIELD

Alexa Pano
Golfweek Junior Ranking: 3
The skinny: Pano is the defending champion in this event and will be the only player – male or female – to follow the Dustin Johnson Junior with a pro start. Pano earned an exemption into the Symetra Tour’s season-opening SkyiGolf Championship in North Port, Fla., to be played March 7-10. Pano, of course, will also play the Augusta National Women’s Amateur next month and will be the youngest player in that field.

Latanna Stone
Golfweek Junior Ranking: 25
The skinny: If it seems like Stone has been in junior golf forever, well, it’s because she has. She made her U.S. Women’s Amateur debut in 2012 when she was 10, and has grown into a composed, thoughtful player. She’ll head to LSU next fall, and leave junior golf behind, but a big win would be a fitting end to this phase of her career.

Megan Furtney
Golfweek Junior Ranking: 40
The skinny: Furtney, of St. Charles, Ill., will join the Duke roster next fall. She had six top-11 finishes in AJGA events in 2018 and that included eight rounds in the 60s. The 18-year-old spent last season recovering from the partial severing of her pinkie, which gave her a world of new perspective on the game.

Kynadie Adams
Golfweek Junior Ranking: 128
The skinny: This summer, Adams, a Gallatin, Tenn., native, qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur right in her backyard of Nashville. It was her second USGA championship start, after playing her way into the Round of 16 at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball.

Avery Zweig
Golfweek Junior Ranking: 183
The skinny: Zweig is only 12, but she’s shaping up to be the next junior girl to make waves at a young age. Zweig, from McKinney, Texas, made match play at the U.S. Girls’ Junior last summer as an 11-year-old and also played the U.S. Women’s Amateur the next month. She also qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball in 2018, making her the youngest player to reach all three championships by age 11. Zweig is a two-time Drive, Chip & Putt national finalist.

ABOUT THE Dustin Johnson World Junior

Started in 2016 by the Dustin Johnson Foundation, the Dustin Johnson World Junior Championship is a 54- hole invitational event for Boys and Girls ages 13- 18. Those who do not meet the invitation criteria will have an opportunity to earn a spot via an 18-hole qualifier prior to the event.

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