Benjamin James of Milford, Connecticut posted a final round 68 at TPC Stadium Course to win the Junior Players Championship -- an event that mirrors “the 5th major” on the PGA Tour in almost every way.
James, who trailed runner-up Nick Dunlap of Alabama by two shots heading into today’s final round, channeled Players’ champion Justin Thomas during a remarkable stretch on the back nine that left his chasers in the dust.
James vaulted into the lead by playing Hole Nos. 9-12 in an amazing 5-under. The Virginia commit put up three-straight birdies starting at No. 9, before hitting his tee shot to less than three feet -- and converting the eagle putt -- on the drivable par-4 12th. That four hole stretch not only put James in the lead for good, it matched the 5-under stretch on the same holes by 2021 Players’ champion Thomas. James feat is even more amazing when you consider that course setup and hole locations mirror those of its PGA Tour big brother.
“I played a dream back nine,” said an excited James. “I was three or four back at one point, and to win by four just shows you how crazy golf is and how you're always in it.”
James got the better of Dunlap today, as the two top players did battle in the final group again. The pair have dominated junior golf this year, with each claiming multiple major victories. James and Dunlap last battled down the stretch at the Polo Golf Junior Classic at Liberty National, which went to sudden death, and where Dunlap ultimately bested James in 20 holes.
This is just the latest in a string of victories for James in 2021. He's also won the Scott Robertson Memorial, Team TaylorMade Invitational and the Northern Junior Championship. James is No. 6 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Dunlap finished second at 4-under-par 212. The Alabama commit won the U.S. Junior Amateur in July. He also recorded 2021 wins at the Dustin Johnson World Junior in Myrtle Beach and the Polo Golf Junior Classic.
of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and Bryan Lee of Fairfax, Virginia, finished T3 at 3-under-par 213. Griz is a two-time Rolex Junior All-American and committed to Alabama. He's No. 40 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and finished T5 at the Sea Pines Junior Heritage. Lee is No. 23 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and committed to Virginia. He finished T2 at the Boys Junior PGA Championship and seventh at the Scott Robertson Memorial.
Sihao Cong of Irvine, California, and Alex Papayoanou of The Woodlands, Texas, finished T5 at 2-under-par 214. Cong, a University of California, Berkeley commit, fired the lowest round of the day with a 5-under-par 67. Papayoanou won the Insperity Invitational / Patrick Reed AJGA Junior Championship in June and is No. 79 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
of Indian Trail, North Carolina, finished seventh at 1-under-par 215. The University of Tennessee commit is No. 5 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
University of Oklahoma commit Ryder Cowan of Edmond, Oklahoma, finished eighth at even-par 216, while Jonas Appel of Encinitas, California, Wells Williams
of West Point, Mississippi, and Bryan Kim
of Brookeville, Maryland, finished T9 at 2-over-par 218.
To date, 40 past players have graduated to play in the PGA Tour’s Players Championship. Justin Thomas became the first Junior Players Championship alumni to win the professional event this year. He competed as a junior in 2008 and 2009, but never won the Junior Players.
-- The AJGA contributed to this story
View results for Junior Players Championship
ABOUT THE Junior Players Championship
One of the AJGA series of tournaments that
require an invitation to participate. Format is
54 holes of stroke play.
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