Date: April 19, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussie five on Valley high

It’s not one of golf’s most “traditional” junior events, but the Sage Valley Invitational is making global waves.

The annual event brings together one of the world’s best collections of young golfing talent and this year’s features a record five-strong Australian contingent.

There is little doubt the event, staged on the spectacular Sage Valley course in South Carolina, just minutes from Augusta, has already developed an outstanding reputation for the care shown to its competitors.

And Golf Australia high performance director Brad James says the international nature of the field ensures widespread and growing interest.

“It hasn’t been around forever, but the tournament takes great care of the athletes and there’s no doubt those who they invite are top quality,” James said.

“We are very fortunate to have five of our best young athletes in the field this week and we’re confident they’ll all acquit themselves really well on what’s a spectacular course.”

The Aussie quintet is, indeed, powerful.

Reigning US Boys’ Amateur champion Min Woo Lee will join Australian Boys’ Interstate Series hero and fellow Perth star Fred Lee at Graniteville, where Min Woo met his idol Tiger Woods last year.

They will be joined by Victorian pair Karl Vilips, who continues to impress at junior level from his Florida base, and newly crowned Australian Junior champion Cameron John, and by young Queenslander Jack Trent, who has committed to the University of Las Vegas, Nevada after his family moved from the Sunshine Coast to the US for his golf three years ago.

“We will be watching closely how all five are going this week,” James said.

“The tournament has already become a great gauge of how athletes are progressing and this week promises to be no different.

“We’ve seen a lot of Min Woo, Fred and Cam in the past couple of years, so we’ll be really keen to see how Karl and Jack compare and compete as well.”

The practice rounds are held on Tuesday and Wednesday (American time) with the tournament rounds played from Thursday through Saturday.