By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
In August, 144 junior golfers will converge on London to participate in the PNC Bank Junior Championship at Crooked Creek Golf Course.
This 54-hole event, part of the American Junior Golf Association, features the top junior golfers from Kentucky and around the country. A press conference was held Thursday morning at Crooked Creek to announce the event.
“The AJGA is thrilled to bring a brand new event to London,” said Matt Larson, AJGA Midwest regional director. “With the support of PNC Bank and the local community, we’re looking forward to a tremendous tournament and hopefully a new tradition.”
The event will be held August 4-8 and should be an economic boon for the area.
“We expect to have over 500 families (visit),” said Rodney Hendrickson, co-executive director of the London-Laurel County Tourist Commission. “Many will come the week before to play practice rounds. Hotel and restaurant owners will love this.”
“When private and public organizations work together for our communities, everyone wins,” said John L. Gohmann, regional president of PNC Bank for Lexington and Southeast Kentucky.
Hendrickson said the idea to bring this event to London developed after the Duramed’s Futures Tour canceled their stop at Crooked Creek. With the help of the Kentucky Sports Authority, the wheels were set in motion and the AJGA was contacted.
The AJGA was founded in 1978. Since then it has grown tremendously and now hosts 100 tournaments all around the United States and one in Puerto Rico. Larson said 99 percent of those who compete on this tour go onto college, and 75 percent receive some sort of athletic scholarship. Former alumni of the tour include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, David Toms, Stewart Cink, Paula Creamer, Inbee Park and Morgan Pressel. Also, this year’s entire U.S. Ryder Cup team and three from the European team are AJGA alumni..
“We’re looking forward to this event,” Larson said. “When we talked about bringing an event to Kentucky, we heard about Crooked Creek. It’s a great course in a great community. This will be a positive impact on the community.”
“The city and county will pledge their full support,” London Mayor Troy Rudder said, as he was joined at the podium by Judge-Executive David Westerfield. “We know Crooked Creek can put together a quality tournament and know that the community will be here to support it.”
Prior to the event, an 18-hole Taylor Made-adidas golf qualifier will be held on Sunday, Aug. 4. This gives juniors an opportunity to “play their way in” to coinciding AJGA Open tournaments or build status for entry into a future event. During the tournament week, some of the top juniors participating in the event will also take part in the Junior-Am Fundraising Tournament on Monday, Aug. 5.