A Rally in the Valley! Team Georgia Comes Back from Stunning Divisional Loss to Capture 8th PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental
11-year old Brody McQueen sinks dramatic 25-foot eagle to clinch championship; Team Texas finishes as runner-up; California is third and Minnesota is fourth
By Hayley Wilson and Michael Abramowitz
Editors: For photos from the Championship courtesy of PGA of America, please click here.
For b-roll/video of the Championship game, please click here.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Oct. 14, 2019) – Team Georgia’s journey through the 8th PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental can be summed up in four words—rally in the valley.
The now two-time National Champions Team Georgia (Duluth/Atlanta, 2017, ’19) came back from a stunning Divisional loss to then winless Team New York to defeat undefeated Team California to first capture the Wanamaker Division title; and then the National Championship over Team Texas (Houston/Montgomery) 7-5.
Georgia’s Brody McQueen, 11, clinched the Championship with an unthinkable 25-foot eagle putt on par-4, 325-yard Hole No. 8. Paired with teammate Sahish Reddy, 12, McQueen drove the green, setting up a putt he will remember forever.
“After the drive, I was so pumped,” said McQueen. “Sahish’s putt didn’t go in. I needed a little bit of extra line, and it was the perfect speed. That was one of the best putts I made in my life. The atmosphere was so crazy.”
It was Team Georgia Captain Patrick McCrary who came over the radio to tell his Coach Greg Powers that all they needed was a half-point to claim the title.
“Little did I know, that Brody McQueen would slam dunk his drive and knock his 25-foot eagle putt right in the middle of the hole,” said Powers.
It was glory, glory to ole Georgia.
Georgia and Texas were neck-and-neck at the start of the day, finishing up their first flag (Hole Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the 9-hole game) with Texas holding the cards in a one point lead. This was thanks in part to a monster 40-foot putt by Marek Fleming, 12, that took a hard bounce on the back of the cup and miraculously dropped in.
However, Georgia began breaking away in the second flag, taking the team up 5-3, as McQueen outdrove his Texas counterparts Austin Hofferkamp and Fleming by 100-yards, followed by a seven-foot birdie to set Georgia’s wheels in motion.
“They put it out there,” said Team Texas Captain Ben Willman, PGA. “They didn’t leave anything behind. We made a couple of mistakes, but I am proud of how hard the kids played. They just came up short. We have finished the last three years in 4th, 3rd and 2nd place… Maybe next year is our year.”
Billy Abdow, the only returning player from the 2017 National Champion Team Georgia, is the Player Captain of his team. And he has some simple advice for his teammates as he ages out of contention for the next postseason.
“I’m going to tell them to go out and do it again,” declared Abdow.
Battle for Third
In the 3rd Place game, Team California bested Team Minnesota 8 ½ – 3 ½.
“The third place match was a great one,” said Team California Captain Jim Collins, PGA. “Our putters went cold today versus Georgia. We just couldn’t convert this morning. Still, Team California is very happy with our 3rd place finish. Kudos to Georgia on winning it all and winning the 2019 PGA Jr. League Championship.”
Monday morning’s critical head-to-head match-up in Georgia’s Wanamaker Division would determine who between Team Georgia and 2014 National Champions Team California (San Ramon) would advance to the Championship game. It was 14-year-old Freddy Chappell who walked in a 15-foot putt to clinch his team’s Championship berth.
Ryder Division’s Team Texas tied Team North Carolina (Charlotte) 6-6 in the final Monday morning session, but Texas’ no-loss record meant they secured their spot in the Championship game.
2019 Championship Final Standings:
National Champion: Team Georgia (Duluth/Atlanta)
Runner-Up: Team Texas (Montgomery/Houston)
3rd Place: Team California (San Ramon)
4th Place: Team Minnesota (Blaine/Minneapolis)
Ryder Division Standings – Final Session
Team Texas (Montgomery/Houston): 4-1-1, 42.5 Points###
Team Minnesota (Blaine/Minneapolis): 4-2-0, 38 Points
Team North Carolina (Charlotte): 3-1-1 Record, 35 Points
Team Washington (Bellingham): 2-3-0 Record, 25 ½ Points
Team Ohio (Columbia Station/Cleveland): 1-4-0 Record, 26 ½ Points
Team Louisiana (Shreveport): 0-5-0 Record, 21 Points
Wanamaker Division Standings – Final Session
Team Georgia (Duluth/Atlanta): 5-1-0, 43 Points###
Team California (San Ramon): 5-1-0, 48.5 Points***
Illinois (Lemont/Chicago): 3-2-0 Record, 30 Points
Oklahoma (Tulsa): 2-3-0 Record, 31 Points
Connecticut (Harwinton/Hartford): 1-4-0 Record, 21 ½ Points
New York (Farmingdale/Long Island): 1-4-0 Record, 21 ½ Points
***Georgia clinches first place due to head-to-head win over California
NEWS & NOTES
HEARTWARMING STORIES AT THE PGA JR. LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
Early this year, Team Minnesota’s 2018 Captain Jay Norman, PGA, passed away unexpectedly. His widow, Jennifer Norman, showed up to surprise the team Sunday morning.
Click here to read the full story.
Meanwhile, Team Ohio’s Deegan Bee recovered from a traumatic brain injury to compete in the PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental.
Read the story here.
SPORTSMANSHIP, TEAMWORK AND DENTAL WORK ABOUND
At its core, PGA Jr. League is all about fun, friendship and teamwork…and those values carried through the Championship. Team Ohio and Team Washington swamped jerseys a la the World Cup, NFL and others.
There was also an emergency braces fix by a Washington dentist dad for Team Minnesota player; and Team New York handed out buttons and more to players and staff alike.
SKILLS COMPETITION FUN
The annual Welcome Reception & Skills Competition that kicks off the PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental never fails to bring the fun. This year’s skills stations were themed after the PGA Jr. League Ambassadors: players stepped up to putt it like Rickie Fowler, chip it like Michelle Wie, carry it over the water like Lexi Thompson, long drive it like Rory McIlroy, and new this year, soccer darts a la Alex Morgan and Pop-A-Shot like Stephen Curry. Musician and freestyler Kelley James was back to entertain the crowd and brought along some friends, including PGA Tour players Colt Knost and Chez Reavie, and former San Francisco Giants outfielder Cody Ross. The longest boys’ and girls’ drives of the night belonged to Jake Birdwell, 13, of Team Minnesota, who drilled it 333 yards and Cara Heisterkamp, 14, of Team Ohio at 271 yards.
CUB REPORTER WORKS WITH ESPN VETERAN
11-year-old Warren Fisher, back for his second year as cub reporter at the PGA Jr. League Championship, worked alongside ESPN’s Michael Collins over the weekend. A two-hour highlight show will debut on ESPN2 on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. EST/12 p.m. PST. ESPN is the new broadcast network of the PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental.
NATIONAL CAR RENTAL EXPERIENCES
Presenting Partner National Car Rental continues to elevate the entire onsite experience for players and families throughout the weekend, from an All-Star Team Zone, Parents Lounge, and a special night at Topgolf Scottsdale on Saturday (Oct. 12).
Below are PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental yearly results:
Year Champion Score Host Facility/Location
2019 Georgia (Duluth) 7 to 5 Grayhawk Golf Club (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
2018 California (San Diego) 7 ½ to 4 ½ Grayhawk Golf Club (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
2017 Georgia (Duluth) 6 ½ to 5 ½ Grayhawk Golf Club (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
2016 California (Livermore) 8 to 4 Grayhawk Golf Club (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
2015 California (San Diego) Playoff (1st hole) Disney’s Palm Course (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.)
2014 California (San Ramon) 7 to 5 TPC Sugarloaf (Duluth, Ga.)
2013 Georgia (Atlanta) 6 ½ to 5 ½ TPC Sugarloaf (Duluth, Ga.)
2012 California (San Francisco) 8 ½ to 3 ½ Cog Hill Golf & Country Club (Lemont, Ill.)
Michael Abramowitz, PGA of America, firstname.lastname@example.org, 561-389-4647
Hayley Wilson, Alday Communications, Inc., email@example.com, 865-256-4295
Jeff Locke, Communication Links, firstname.lastname@example.org, 480-348-7540