Ben James of Milford, CT., survived a sudden playoff, and Katie Cranston (Oakville, Ont., Canada) rallied from a four-stroke deficit to win the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship presented by LA Golf Sunday at TPC Myrtle Beach.
James shot a pair of 67s in the tournament’s opening two days to take a three-shot lead into the final round, but what seemed like a coronation for America’s top-ranked junior turned into a dogfight on a windy day. The University of Virginia signee, bogeyed four of the first six holes and had a pair of back nine doubles, forcing him to birdie TPC’s par five, 18th to shoot 76 and tie Jack Roberts (St., Mary’s, Ga.) at six-under par.
Roberts began the day five shots back of James but fired a 71, including two birdies down the stretch, to earn his share of the lead after 54 holes.
The first sudden playoff in the DJ World Junior’s seven years lacked the drama of the final round. Roberts pulled his tee shot out-of-bounds on the 18th hole and James reached the green in two, setting up a comfortable two-putt and the winning birdie.
Erik Plenge (Lima, Peru), Luke Clanton (Hialeah, FL.), Nicholas Gross (Downingtown, PA.) and Cooper Jones (Highland, Utah) each finished tied for third at 4-under par.
Cranston shot a 68, highlighted by her first-ever hole-in-one on the par three 13th hole. She finished at five-under par, four strokes clear of second round leader Bailey Shoemaker (Dade City, FL.)
The 68 equaled the lowest round in tournament history and it came on a day when the average score in the girls’ field was 77.