Kids on Team Georgia know that it takes hard work to become national champions of the PGA Junior Golf League. What makes it easy is that they get taught by kids from past teams that have been there and done that.
“They’ve all grown up under one group of champions to the next group of champions,” said Chuck Scoggins, the team’s coach. “They feel a legacy to continue.”
They’ll get the chance on Sunday.
Team Georgia cruised into the finals for the fourth straight year with a solid victory over Connecticut on Saturday. The kids won all three of their semifinal matches and will play in the championship Sunday against California. It’s the third straight year these teams have met in the finals.
Georgia won it all in 2011 (the first year the tournament was held), lost to California in the 2012 finals, and came out on top in 2013. Each of the years they won, the championship was held in their home state. They’ve got geography on their side again, as the event is at the TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Ga.
Four members of last year’s winning team are back to defend their title. They like their chances.
“Last year, we played really good, too, but this year I think we even have a stronger team so we’ll be able to take home another trophy,” Stephen Foernsler said.
Scoggins said it’s hard to compare this year’s team with the others that have won championships.
“Each team is unique,” he said. “We’ve got mostly brand new players each year so the personality of the group is different. The style of play is different for each group. This group has come together well as a team. I like our chances.”
One of the players who shows how hard work pays off is Brandon Yau. In individual tournaments last year, he had trouble shooting less than 110 over 18 holes. In 2014, he has scores typically in the low 80s. But he has also shot some rounds in the 70s. That improvement earned him a spot on this year’s Team Georgia.
“I feel very honored to be invited to this tournament with my team. I felt excited,” he said. “I didn’t sleep much last night at all. (Tonight) I’ll go to sleep at 8 o’clock if I have to.”
California is going to be tough to beat. They have been the most dominant team so far, winning 32 of a possible 36 points. (Georgia is next best at 29.)
“They were going crazy today on birdies. I think we had two eagles, too,” said California coach Jim Collins. “It’s going to be a battle tomorrow. We’re going to need to play our best, that’s for sure. If we do that and come focused, I think we can do it.”
In other matches Sunday, Tennessee and Indiana will play to decide third and fourth place, Connecticut and Texas will play for fifth and sixth, and New Jersey and Iowa will play for 7th and eighth.
Photos: PGA of America