Golf

A pair of Grand Strand golfers are headed to the national PGA Junior Championship

Myrtle Beach’s Holden Grigg tees off during the Carolinas PGA Junior Championship on Sunday at the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina University. Grigg won the boys title with a 5-under 139.
Myrtle Beach’s Holden Grigg tees off during the Carolinas PGA Junior Championship on Sunday at the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina University. Grigg won the boys title with a 5-under 139. For The Sun News

Holden Grigg announced he was becoming one of the better junior golfers in South Carolina in mid-May when he set a state record in the Class 4A state high school championship. He carded a pair of 65s for a 14-under 130 at the Port Royal Golf Club’s Barony Course in Hilton Head Island to record the lowest score ever in a high school championship.

He has played in a handful of junior tournaments in South Caroolina since the state championship, with mediocre results.

He made another statement Sunday, shooting a 3-under-par 69 in the final round to claim a one-shot win in the Carolinas Junior PGA Championship at the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina with a 5-under 139.

“I’ve been playing solid just kind of haven’t played to the level I was playing and kind of got back close to that this week,” Grigg said. “I finally broke through this summer. I haven’t done much since the state championship. I’ve always been hitting it well just haven’t gotten the putts to drop. I finally got the putter rolling this week. It was a great tournament and great week.”

Grigg, a rising junior at Myrtle Beach High, had four birdies and a bogey Sunday, including birdies on holes 13 and 16.

The top two boys and top two girls finishers in the tournament qualify for the national Junior PGA Championship being played next month at The Country Club of St. Albans near St. Louis, and Smith Knaffle of Murrells Inlet will be joining Grigg as the girls runner-up.

Knaffle finished seven shots behind winner Anna Morgan of Spartanburg.

“I can’t wait to go. It’s going to be a great experience,” Grigg said.

A growth spurt has aided Grigg’s game. He said he has grown 6 to 7 inches in about the past eight months, allowing him to hit the ball farther and have shorter irons coming into greens. He said he has gained about 30 yards off the tee with his driver.

“It’s good and bad. I’m not in near as many fairways but the ball does go a little farther,” Grigg said.

The threat of lightning halted play Sunday afternoon with just the final threesome of boys still on the course and at their balls in the 18th fairway, ready to hit their approach shots.

Following a delay of more than 90 minutes, Levi Moody of Greenville spun his ball off the front of the green and into water to fall out of a tie for the lead, but saved a bogey to tie Riley Warrington of Raleigh, N.C., for second at 4-under 140. They went into a playoff near dusk to determine the runner-up, and Warrington won with a par on the second playoff hole – the 18th.

After shooting an 8-over-par 80 in Saturday’s opening round, Knaffle sat in a tie for 13th, 10 strokes off the lead. So the chances of advancing were bleak for the defending CPGA Junior girls champion.

Sunday was a different story.

Knaffle shot the low round of the tournament – boys or girls – with a 5-under 67 that included seven birdies to vault into second place at 3-over 147 and earn her second consecutive trip to the national PGA Junior Championship.

“After the first day I knew I needed to go out there and shoot 68 or 67 just to have a chance,” Knaffle said. “[Saturday] was a tough day. Everyone has a bad day. Today I was positive going in and hit it a lot better. I knew my game was good and I could shoot about a 68 the second day. It was just a matter if putts were going to fall and things were going to go my way and luckily today they did.”

Morgan carded a pair of 2-under 70s for a 140 total and made just two bogeys in 36 holes. “I didn’t really make many mistakes, and if I missed a shot I still missed it in the right spot,” Morgan said. “I played great really.”

Both Morgan and Knaffle, who turns 16 on Tuesday, are rising high school juniors.

“Anna Morgan is one of my best friends so I’m excited we have a chance to go up there together. It’s going to be a fun trip,” Knaffle said.

Knaffle opened the tournament Saturday with an 8-over 44 on her first nine holes, including a triple bogey on the 18th, then played her final nine holes even par. Sunday, Knaffle made the turn 1 under for the round following a bogey on her ninth hole – the par-4 18th – then birided four of her next five holes and five of her first eight on her second nine.

Knaffle shot rounds of 76 and 77 at the national PGA Junior last year at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rhode Island and missed the cut to the final round. The field is expanding for both boys and girls from 78 players to 144 each this year.

“I’m really excited to go back already having that experience,” said Knaffle, who said she doesn’t expect to commit to a college for at least another three to six months. “I didn’t play my best per se, but I was just happy to be there. It’s such a great experience and everyone’s so nice and they treat us so well. It’s always good to go there and see how you stack up.”

Morgan will be making her first trip to the national PGA Junior. She also quickly shook off an 80 this week. Morgan shot an 80 Friday in the final round of the Women’s S.C. Golf Association Junior Championship at Wescott Plantation in Summerville but was steady this weekend.

“Coming into it off not a great tournament I wasn’t sure how I’d do, so to win and be able to go to Missouri is even better,” Morgan said. “I’m extremely excited.

Morgan finished second in the WSCGA Women’s Amateur at Thornblade Club in Greer earlier this month.

“In the past four or five months I’ve really stepped it up a little bit,” Morgan said. “I think I’m just now more consistent and if I make a mistake I don’t let it get to me. I control it and have a better mindset.”

Jordan White of Myrtle Beach tied for 18th at 17-over 161 and Madison Elliott of Little River tied for 21st at 162.

In the boys competition, Chris Fortenberry of Myrtle Beach tied for fifth at 2-under 142, Jackson Cole of Pawleys Island tied for 11th at 145, Carlos Garre of Myrtle Beach tied for 15th at 146, Kevin Burris of Conway tied for 26th at 148 and Matthew Griego of North Myrtle Beach tied for 38th at 150 following a 71 Sunday.

The tournament was operated by and benefits the PGA Reach Carolinas, the charitable arm of the Carolinas PGA Section.

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

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