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February 28, 2024

Huntsville’s Tyler Watts highlights Dustin Johnson World Junior field

By Alabama Golf News Staff
Tyler Watts Swing

Strongest field yet at 8-year-old event

MURRELLS INLET, S.C.  Huntsville’s Tyler Watts, the world’s No. 1 ranked junior, and Nashville’s Blades Brown, highlight the field for this year’s Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship at TPC Myrtle Beach.

The inclusion of Watts and Brown make the ninth Dustin Johnson event one of the strongest fields in junior golf. The tournament is March 1-3.

A 54-hole, college-style event, 54 boys and 36 girls secured invitations to the DJ World Junior, including Tyler Watts. Coming off a 62 in a one-day high-school tournament at Hampton Cove in Huntsville, Watts had 2023 wins at the Jones Cup Junior Invitational, the Keith Mitchell Junior Championship, the Southern Junior Championship, and the Alabama State Amateur.

In total 68 of the 90 players are ranked among America’s top 100 juniors by either Golfweek or Junior Golf Scoreboard, highlighting the depth and quality of the field. On the boys side, 42 of the 54 players are ranked among America’s top 100 juniors while 26 of the 36 girls are top 100 players. 

With Brown, the top-ranked junior in America according to Junior Golf Scoreboard, in the field, Watts isn’t the consensus favorite entering the tournament. Brown, like Watts, is a sophomore in high school coming off a spectacular 2023 that included wins at the AJGA Junior at Canebrake, the Junior Championship, the Wyndham Invitational, the Tennessee Junior Amateur, and the Elite Invitational.

Tyler Watts, Blades Brown favored

Three other players from Alabama are in the boys field – Chase Kyes of Birmingham, Hudson Lawson of Haleyville and Jon Ed Steed of Enterprise.

The girls field is highlighted by the return of the top three finishers from 2023, led by reigning champion Ryleigh Knaub (DeBary, Fla.). Knaub earned a two-stroke victory last year and Alice Ziyi Zhao (Irvine, Calif.), a freshman who was the runner-up, and Chloe Kovelesky (Boca Raton), a junior who finished tied for third, are back in search the crown. 

One player from Alabama is in the girls field – Molly Brown Davidson of Springville.

This year’s tournament will again feature a co-ed team event, designed to mirror the type of competition players will enjoy at the collegiate level. 

While the event is just eight years old, three past champions at the DJ World Junior have already won at the game’s highest levels. In the last 12 months, Akshay Bhatia and Nick Dunlap have won on the PGA Tour while Alexa Pano triumphed on the LPGA Tour. 

“The Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship is one of the best junior events in America, and this is our strongest field to date,” tournament director Scott Tomasello said. “TPC Myrtle Beach is an ideal host course, and the tournament gives spectators the opportunity to see golf’s next generation of stars up close.”

A significant part of the event’s appeal is TPC Myrtle Beach, one of the Grand Strand’s most decorated layouts. TPC Myrtle Beach has hosted the Senior PGA Tour Championship and been ranked among “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” by Golf Digest, making it an ideal venue to test golf’s rising young stars.

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Featured image of Tyler Watts courtesy of the Dustin Johnson Junior World Golf Championship

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