IJGA Invitational – Tour Preview

The International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) will be hosting the IJGA Invitational on Dec. 14-15 at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, S.C. The two-day, 36-hole tournament will consist of one round at Sea Pines Ocean Course and one round at Harbour Town Golf Links. Players will be competing for national rankings and Double IJGT Merit Points at the last Major Championship of the fall season.

The first course built on Hilton Head Island, the Ocean Course features one of only two oceanfront holes on the island. The par-72 course stretches to 6,906 yards with a rating of 73.5 and slope of 144 from the back tees. Strategically-placed bunkers and lagoons provide difficulties to players of all skill levels. The par-3, 15th is the signature hole at the Ocean Course, as elevated tees give players unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Hole 15 Ocean Course

The par-3, 15th hole at Sea Pines Ocean Course is one of only two oceanfront holes on Hilton Head Island.

Harbour Town Golf Links is the more nationally known of the courses at Sea Pines. Harbour Town has played host to the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage (formally Heritage Classic) since 1969. The course is consistently awarded billing as one of the top courses, including being rated 18th in Golf Digest’s 2013-14 “America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses.” Playing as a par-71, the course features five sets of tees stretching from 5,208 yards to 7,101 yards. The 18th hole at Harbour Town is one of golf’s most well-known holes, as players overlook Calibogue Sound and features the Harbour Town Lighthouse in the background.

Harbour Town Lighthouse 18 Green

The 18th hole at Harbour Town Golf Links provides one of the most recognizable finishing holes in golf.

The IJGA Invitational consistently features one of the strongest fields of the IJGT season, and this year is no different. In the Boys 15-19 Division, Tennoshin Ogawa of Ichinomiya-shi, Japan, Shota Ozaki of Tokyo, Japan, William Thomson of Pittsford, N.Y., and Trey Wren of Suffolk, Va. highlight a strong field. Ogawa, Ozaki, and Wren have all been victorious in IJGT Events this season, while Thomson won last season’s IJGA Invitational in the Boys 14 & Under Division, narrowly edging out Ogawa. Other players to keep an eye on include Matt Cheng of Taipei, Taiwan and Bobby Firth of Jenkintown, Pa.

Takafumi Shimoji looks to continue his impressive rookie season on the IJGT by capturing the tournament in the Boys 14 & Under Division. Shimoji has won three tournaments this fall while finishing 2nd in his other two events. Shimoji shot his low round of the season in the first round of the Lowcountry Open at Oldfield Golf Club in August, carding six birdies on his way to a 5-under-par, 67. Players to also watch in the Boys 14 & Under Division include Alex Lawson of Pittsburgh, Pa., Brandon McBride of Bluffton, S.C., Ryan McCarthy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and Luis Sanchez of Tampico, Mexico.

The Girls Division features a number of players who have had successful seasons so far, including Samantha Huang Shenzhen, China, Ana Paula Valdes of Morelia, Mexico, and Kelly Whaley of Farmington, Conn., all of whom have been victorious twice this fall. Cake Phuchanbanchob of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Clementina Rodriquez of Caracas, Venezuela, Ana Ruiz of Chihuahua, Mexico, Thamonpat Siriko of Bangkok, Thailand, and Susana Vik of Greenwich, Conn. all placed in the top ten of last year’s IJGA Invitational.