Team Virginia Claims the Title in the Inaugural 17u National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship
Team Virginia defeated Team Florida 6 – 3 to win the Championship;
Team Pennsylvania finishes third over Team Illinois 6.5 – 2.5
Written by The PGA of America
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SANTA ANA PUEBLO, New Mexico (Nov. 19, 2023) – They aren’t going to Disney World, but after winning the inaugural 17u National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship at New Mexico’s Twin Warriors Golf Club, Team Virginia (Dulles) is going bowling.
“I told them if they won the National Championship, we’d go bowling again, so we’re going bowling to celebrate,” said PGA of America Golf Professional Scott Holmes, who leads Team Virginia, based at 1757 Golf Club, after his team hoisted the trophy.
Every shot matters in match play, and Team Virginia made the moments count today, capturing the title on a day punctuated by scattered showers and steadily dropping temperatures.
No. 3 seed Team Virginia defeated No. 1 seed Team Florida (Orlando) 6-3 in the match play Championship final, following a brief weather delay between the morning Semifinal matches.
With the 17u Championship in its first year, Team Virginia made history as the first 17u Champion. The moment wasn’t lost on Coach Holmes.
“This is my third trip to the National Championship, two for 13u and one for 17u,” Holmes said. “It’s been our goal to win a National Championship, and there’s no words to describe the feeling. We’re just going to try to celebrate the moment.”
The pivotal moment of the Championship match came during the second flag, when Team Virginia took 2.5 flags to Team Florida’s 0.5.
“Before that, the match was really tight, but that really swung it in our favor,” Holmes said. “Our team stayed patient and played fantastic.”
Team Florida Coach Cori McAuliffe, LPGA, of Marriott Golf Academy, who led a 13u team to third place in the 2023 13u National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship just last month, was proud of her team’s performance but disappointed by the outcome.
“They played so well today,” she said. “But unfortunately, it just wasn’t our day.”
The morning semifinals set the stage for the afternoon Championship, but the morning wasn’t without a little excitement of its own. No. 3 seed Team Virginia defeated No. 2 seed Team Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh) 5-4, while No. 1 seed Team Florida edged No. 4 seed Team Illinois (Lemont) after a 4.5-4.5 end to their match.
The two teams remained locked in a tie through the first tiebreaker (number of holes won), with Team Florida advancing after winning the second tiebreaker: the team aggregate total (best two of three scores) across all 36 holes from Day 1 and Day 2. Team Florida won with 45-under compared to Team Illinois’ 41-under.
“We battled Virginia really hard today in the semifinals,” said PGA of America Golf Professional Troy Williams of Hot Shot Golf Academy. “I think that was probably the National Championship right there. We thought 19-under, and they shot 20-under.”
In the afternoon consolation match, Team Pennsylvania defeated Team Illinois 6.5-2.5 to finish third.
“After our Semifinal match, we came out, handled business and played how I expected,” Williams said. “I’m just so proud of our team. These kids do everything I ask of them, they work hard, and I couldn’t be more proud to be their coach. We’ll be back next year.”
As for the rest of the field, Team New York (Farmington) finished fifth at 41-under; Team Minnesota (Blaine) and Team California (San Jose) tied for sixth at 38-under; Team Utah (South Jordan) took eighth at 37-under; Team Texas (Farmers Branch) and Team North Carolina were ninth at 36-under; Team Kansas (Kansas City) 11th with 33-under; and Team Kentucky in 12th at 12-under.
The eight teams not competing in the Semifinals had the option to participate in the Twin Warriors Roundup, a 9-hole, two-person scramble. The Twin Warriors Roundup was captured by Alexander Thu, 14, and Brandon Pantaleon, 15, of Team California.