Rory McIlroy says accomplishing something as part of a team is more fun than doing it on your own because you can celebrate with your teammates.
The 80 kids who will compete in the PGA Junior League Golf Championship certainly agree.
The competition begins today at TPC Sugarloaf, a course outside of Atlanta. But yesterday, the young golfers got a videotaped message from McIlroy — currently the No. 1 golfer in the world and the Junior Golf League’s global ambassador — congratulating everyone, wishing them good luck, and mentioning how much he enjoys team competitions. He also sent along an autographed pin flag for each player.
The souvenir was among many cool things players received. In their own personal locker at the course, they got a backpack, a hat with their number on it, and two jerseys – one with their last name on the back, another with their team name, each with the words “2014 championship” and their number.
The kids wore the personalized shirt during a Skills Challenge on Thursday evening. They will wear their team jersey during the round-robin matches Friday and Saturday, and the final round on Sunday.
For the Skills Challenge, players didn’t compete on their usual teams. Instead, they were mixed up into new teams so they could get to know other kids. These new teams competed in putting, chipping and long driving. Each player only did one of those things. Players from the winning team earned a pin with the Greg Norman “shark” logo. (Norman designed the course.) They’re encouraged to wear that pin on their hat all weekend to indicate they won the Skills Challenge.
The eight teams in the finals are from California, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, Tennessee and Texas. They are split into two brackets, the East and West.
Teams will play each of the other three teams in their side of the bracket over Friday and Saturday. The winners of each bracket will meet Sunday. So will other teams to see who finishes 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8.
Each match is nine holes. Two players represent a team at a time. Coaches can sub out players every three holes so everyone on the team gets a chance to play.
This is the fourth year of the PGA Junior League. Team Georgia is the defending champion. The winners get this trophy:
Photos: PGA of America (group shot, flags), courtesy Jake Aron (shirts, swing, pin, trophy)