PHOENIX - Chandler's Thomas Avant and Tucson's Haylin Harris notched victories in the Boys and Girls Divisions respectively at the Willie Low Invitational presented by MJ Insurance, the third JGAA Junior Masters Series tournament, played June 8-9 at Phoenix Country Club.
Harris edged out Megan Ohland by a stroke, finishing with a five-over-par 147 for the tournament. The Salpointe Catholic sophomore-to-be started out strong on the front nine each day at one-under par in the first round and two-under par in the second.
Avant fired a four-under-par 138 for the 36-hole tournament posting 71-67 to win by three strokes over Phoenix's George Markham. He adds the win to a third-place finish in March at the Thunderbird Invitational and a T9 performance in May at the second Junior Masters Series event – the Charlie Beljan Invitational.
“Congratulations to Thomas and Haylin for their wins in this Junior Master Series tournament,” said Scott McNevin, Executive Director of the JGAA. “Willie Low was one of Arizona's most impactful advocates of junior golf. It is our honor to memorialize his efforts through this event, and Thomas and Haylin are the latest beneficiaries of his vision and dedication. A profound thank you goes to him and generous support from MJ Insurance.”
The event honors the late Willie Low, one of the Valley's top golf professionals for nearly a half century who started the tournament in 1969. It has been showcasing the talents of junior golfers from across the state since then with past winners including PGA TOUR golfers Billy Mayfair (1983 and '84), Ted Purdy (1989), Charlie Beljan (2000) and LPGA player, Sara Brown (2004).
Low influenced many of the Valley's top juniors, including Howard Twitty and a young George Boutell who would later go on to win the 1962 Arizona Amateur Championship and then post a stellar career at Arizona State University, earning All American status.
The JGAA's Junior Masters Series consists of five regular tournaments and one Series Championship at some of the most prestigious courses in Arizona. Dates and venues for the balance of the schedule will be released soon. As with professional golfers Bryce Molder, Charlie Beljan and Willie Low, the JGAA will call on local PGA or LPGA players (past and present) to help launch each Junior Masters Series tournament.
“Our goal is to provide a competitive place for aspiring players to play,” said George Getz, Chairman of the Board of the JGAA. “This tournament series will allow kids to earn national-level points and will serve as a launching pad into nationally chartered events.”