A History of showcasing tomorrow’s stars one of golf’s major championships for juniors, the Junior PGA Championship is where the best in the world get their start.
Begun in 1976, at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., the Championship has been a popular stop on the national junior circuit for many of today’s PGA and LPGA touring professionals.
The Junior PGA Championship moved to Callaway Gardens in Mountain View, Ga., in 1978, and two years later was contested at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., which would eventually host 19 Championships over the next two decades.
The Championship also visited Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Mo., in 1988 and Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort & Country Club in 1993. The Championship returned to PGA National Golf Club in 1994 and remained at the site until 2001.
In 2009, Lexi Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., captured her second Junior PGA Championship, cruising to a 12-stroke triumph, one stroke off the all-time record, set by Debbie Hall in 1977. The 14-year-old Thompson, who was already competing in her fourth Junior PGA Championship, has finished in the top-3 in each of her last three Junior PGA Championships. In 2007, the 12-year-old Thompson became the youngest champion in the history of the storied Championship.
With his win at the 2008 Masters, Trevor Immelman became just the second boys’ division winner of the Junior PGA Championship to also win a major championship. In addition, Immelman (1996, from South Africa) became the second to achieve PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors.
Also, with her victory at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open, Inbee Park of Henderson, Nev. / South Korea, became the third girls’ division winner of the Junior PGA Championship to also earn a major championship, joining Cristie Kerr of Scottsdale, Ariz., winner of the 1995 Junior PGA Championship and the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open; and Grace Park of Scottsdale, winner of the 1996 Junior PGA Championship and the 2004 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
In 2005, former Junior PGA Champion Sean O’Hair (1998) and former PGA Junior Series winner (1996) became the first ever to
achieve PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors. Four LPGA Rookie of the Year honors have come from the Junior PGA Girls Champion or runner-up positions: 1985 Penny Hammel (1978 Champion); 1991 Brandi Burton (1988 Champion); 2000 Dorothy Delasin (1998 runner-up); and 2002 Beth Bauer (1997 Champion).
In 2002, former Junior PGA Champion Ty Tryon of Orlando, Fla., became the youngest player (age 17) to earn a PGA Tour fully exempt playing card.
Past Junior PGA Championship competitors who have gone on to successful professional careers include: Billy Andrade, Kathy Baker, Brandie Burton, Stewart Cink, Chris Couch, Jim Gallagher Jr., Trevor Immelman, Cristie Kerr, Justin Leonard, Billy Mayfair, Michelle McGann, Phil Mickelson, Sean O’Hair, Grace Park, InBee Park, Dottie Pepper, Stacy Prammanasudh, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Lexi Thompson, Scott Verplank, Michelle Wie and Tiger Woods.
Starting in 2017 the Junior PGA Championship has been split into two separate championships, the Girls Junior PGA Championship and the Boys Junior PGA Championship.