15-Year-Old Dawson Ovard Leads Loaded Field at Junior PGA
Dawson Ovard watches his tee shot on the first hole during Round One for the<br>42nd Boys Junior PGA Championship (Photo by Traci Edwards/PGA of America)
Dawson Ovard watches his tee shot on the first hole during Round One for the
42nd Boys Junior PGA Championship (Photo by Traci Edwards/PGA of America)

ST. ALBANS, MO (July 31,2017) -- The 42nd PGA Junior Championship began this morning on the Lewis and Clark Course at the Country Club of St. Albans, one of the top ranked courses in Missouri. With one quarter of the tournament play complete, we have already been given a good glimpse of the high level of talent in this week's field of top junior-amateur players.

One thing we know for certain is that we will have a new champion this week, as the 2016 winner Norman Xiong is not a junior anymore, now playing at the University of Oregon and recipient of this year's NCAA Freshman of the Year Award.

Finishing closest to Xiong in last year's event was 17 year old Patrick Welch, who is in the field this week, looking to make some progress and take home the trophy at this year's event. The University of Oklahoma commit kept himself in the mix today, shooting a 1-over-par 73. The cross-handed player already has a strong resume, leading his U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team to victory with a 3-0 record in the 2016 event. Welch has also earned medalist honors at the 2015 Rhode Island Amateur Championship and won the 2015 New England Junior Amateur.

Pierceson and Parker Coody, 17-year-old twins from Texas, teed off in back-to-back groups this morning. Pierceson had a tough day, shooting a 6-over-par 78, Parker put himself into a better position moving into Tuesday’s second round. His 3-under-par 69 would be good enough to get him into a tie for 10th along with eight other players.

Also hailing from Texas is Dawson Ovard, who shot the low round of the day. The 15-year-old posted a record-setting 8-under-par 64 today, a bogey-free round that included six birdies and an eagle on the par-5 11th hole. Ovard's early success in this junior "major" might have something to do with the fact that he has been mentored at times by family friend and fellow Texan, Jordan Spieth.

Dawson and his brother David, 11, who recently won a green jacket at the Junior Masters, frequently take lessons with Cameron McCormick, a long-time swing coach to Spieth. As Dawson Ovard tries to win the Junior PGA this week, so will Jordan Spieth look to win his own PGA Championship this August in hopes to solidify a career grand slam.

Just behind Ovard is the reigning two-year South Carolina State Champion, Jacob Bridgeman, who turned in a 65 today, making a total of eight birdies before a lone bogey on the par-4 17th hole. Just behind Bridgeman, alone in the third spot is Vanderbilt commit and Texas native Reid Davenport.

54-holes are left to play at the 2017 Junior PGA Championship, with the cut made after Tuesday’s second round. The top seventy players and ties will qualify to return to St. Albans on Wednesday and Thursday.

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ABOUT THE Junior PGA Championship

One of golf’s major championships for juniors, the Boys Junior PGA Championship is where the best in the world get their start. Begun in 1976, at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, the Championship has been a popular stop on the national junior circuit for many of today’s PGA touring professionals including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Pat Perez, who held the record for 24 years until Akshay Bhatia shattered it by 5 strokes in 2017. 72-hole, stroke-play Championship, with a cut after 36 holes to the low 70 plus ties. The Boys Junior PGA Championship is open to males who are no older than 18 years of age by the end of the tournament.

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