JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Eight golfers from the Tri-Cities will make the trek to Arizona this week for the National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship that kicks off competitive play on Friday.
This competition started with 63,000 kids, but got whittled down to 98 golfers on just 12 teams. These 13u all-star squads will compete for the national championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. This also marks the first year this competition has been shown on the ESPN networks.
There’s teams coming from New York, Orlando, Chicago and the Twin Cities, but head coach Casey Barnes is ready to put the Tri-Cities on the golfing landscape.
“That’s what they’re going to be thinking, they’re going to be thinking Tri-Cities,” Barnes said. “To see the level of players that they are at that age is pretty amazing.”
Barnes also mentioned how his confidence of this team has never wavered.
“I’ve been saying all along that we were going to go to nationals this year, but now that we’re actually going, it probably hasn’t set in just yet.”
This team consists of eight members that come from Clear Creek Golf Club in Bristol, Cattails at MeadowView Golf Course in Kingsport, Blackthorn Club at The Ridges in Johnson City and Pine Oaks Golf Course in Johnson City.
Despite coming from different corners in the Tri-Cities, this team puts in the work, no matter what course they’re on.
“We all work so hard. I practice every single day, I’m pretty sure every single one of these guys practices every single day and I just think that’s what gets us this far,” 13-year old Alizah Robinson said.
“We just got a lot of people who play really well. We got a lot of people with a lot of talent and they definitely put that to use,” 13-year old Will Carrier said.
The tournament kicks off Friday on ESPN 2 and runs through Sunday. Friday’s action will air on ESPN2 with Saturday’s being televised on ESPN News and ESPN. The final round will be broadcasted on ESPN2.
With plenty of exposure on this squad, this Tri-Cities team believes they’re about to shine in the national spotlight.
“I’m pretty sure we’ve got a really good chance to get into the finals that Sunday. I think we got a really good chance at the championship,” 13-year old Paul Haire said.
“That would probably be the best day of my life, that would be insane. Just to be there would be great and to win it all that would be awesome,” Robinson said. “All the other teams should just watch out because we’re going to kick butt down there.”