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COVID-19 quarantine keeps James from defending state junior title
Ben James (NewEngland.golf photo)
Ben James (NewEngland.golf photo)

COVID-19 has had a wide-ranging effect on amateur golf, rearranging the calendar, forcing tournaments to incorporate new safety protocols, and causing golfers to rethink their travel schedules.

For Ben James (Milford, Ct.), a chance to play in a major of amateur golf had unintended consequences upon returning home, resulting in losing a chance to defend his state junior title he won last year.

James won the Connecticut State Junior at Watertown Golf Club last summer, which accompanied wins at the New England Junior, the Northern Junior and the AJGA Killington Championship. With high finishes at the Connecticut Open (a tie for third) and the Connecticut Amateur (quarterfinals), his resume was strong enough to earn an invitation into the prestigious North & South Amateur at Pinehurst No. 2.

The 17-year-old James shot rounds of 77-74 to miss out on match play, but he would fully realize the cost of his trip to Pinehurst upon his return home.

On June 25, just five days before the first round of the North & South, the state of Connecticut announced a travel advisory that, ahead of July 4 weekend, requires people arriving from states with high coronavirus rates to quarantine for 14 days. North Carolina was put on that list.

For James, that meant that upon his return home, he would have to quarantine for two weeks. With the Connecticut Junior starting on July 6, there was no way for him to play, and he was forced to withdraw from the event.

For the tournament, this means that the 25-year streak of no repeat winners will extend another year. For James, it's a couple weeks of rest and relaxation, and then surely back to the course to chase his next title.

ABOUT THE Connecticut Junior Amateur

The Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship is open to all Connecticut junior golfers who have not reached their nineteenth birthday by the start of the event. The challenging format tests the state's best junior golfers over a single round of stroke play to determine the low thirty- two match play qualifiers. Two rounds of match play each day culminate in an eighteen-hole final to crown the top junior player in Connecticut.

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