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Pennsylvania teams lead inaugural NHSGA High School Invite
NHSGA photo
NHSGA photo

The inaugural NHSGA High School Golf National Invitational is through day one at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The nation’s top high school golfers are competing to become America’s first national champions. This invitation-only tournament is made up of over 300 of the top boys and girls high school golfers from across the country.

Boys Highlights:

In the boy’s team division, the Mid Atlantic teams are currently on top, including the boys representing Pennsylvania in the top two spots with team totals of 290 and 291, respectively. Virginia is in a tie for second with a total of 291 as well. Five teams within seven shots of one another.

Aidan Thomas from Bernalillo, N.M., fired a career-best 65 in the first round of the championship to lead by two strokes over James Amai (Brookline, Mass.) and Connor Gaunt (Cabot, Ark.) in the individual competition.

Thomas said, “I had a 10-footer on 18 to shoot 64, but just missed.” Although the National High School Invitational is in its inaugural year, Thomas says, “I feel like I belong here and am very comfortable. It’s exciting to compete with the best high school players. I worked hard to earn the invitation to the championship and feel like I deserve to be here.”

Thomas, of Native American decent, was introduced to golf by his brother in New Mexico where they notably hit balls into trains . He just completed his senior year and will be attending New Mexico State University in the fall, where he will play for the varsity college golf team. Thomas chose New Mexico State University because they offer Professional Golf Management as a major. Thomas has dreams to play on the PGA Tour, but if he cannot make it on tour, he would love to be a PGA Professional working at a golf facility.

Thomas grew up playing on the PGA’s Sun Country Junior Tour and recently qualified for the44th Boys Junior PGA Championship.

Amai is an accomplished golfer who has recently had a great run winning the Hornblower in his home state of Massachusetts and qualifying as the medalist in his recent USGA Junior Qualifier. James will play in the US Junior for the third time this summer.

Amai said, “Playing in the National Invitational representing Massachusetts is amazing. Anytime you can represent your state and school is an honor. This tournament gives me motivation to play for my community and not just myself.”

Girls Highlights:

The Girls Invitational is being held down the road from Walt Disney World Resort at Falcon’s Fire Golf Club.

In the team division, the girl’s team from South Carolina shot a 297 and lead the tournament by a single stroke over California. North Carolina and Georgia are also within close striking distance.

“We feel like we didn’t play our best today, but we’re looking to come back tomorrow as we traditionally play much better on the second day of 36-hole tournaments,” said Georgia coach Chris Roy. They shot a team score of 327 and sit 30 shots back.

The team from California came in as favorites and have a great opportunity to snatch the inaugural Invitational title tomorrow afternoon if they can come back to beat South Carolina.

“We’re here to win, but we’re also here to have fun and that’s going to be the message tonight,” said California head coach Troy Cowgill. “The girls were frustrated with some of their putts on these bermuda greens, so we’ll talk about the mindset when approaching those putts as well.”

Kayla Bartemeyer (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.) was the sole player to break 70 with a stellar round of 69 (-3). Riley Hamilton (Reidsville, N.C.) and Carissa Graft (West Jordan, Utah) both carded 70s, and a handful of other players, including a talented freshman named Leia Chung (Wahiawa, Hawaii), are within a few shots of the lead.

Notes:

The Invitational brings together a strong field from a wide range of large, small, public and private high school golf programs representing 43 states. Only the best high school golf teams and individuals in each state received invites based on their State Championship performance.

The High School Golf National Invitational is conducted by the National High School Golf Association (NHSGA), a division of Nextgengolf, which was recently acquired by the PGA of America. The PGA will award a special exemption for tournament medalists into the 2019 Boys Junior PGA Championship and Girls Junior PGA Championship at Keney Park Golf Course in Hartford, Connecticut.

ABOUT THE High School Golf National Invitational

Started in 2019, this tournament aims to bring together the strongest ever field in high school golf. Invitations will be extended to all high school state championship teams and individual medalists. The tournament will be 36 holes of stroke play with individual and team competitions. The twist is that teams competing in the invitational will be representing their state, not their school.

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