DUBLIN, OH – With the March to Muirfield officially concluded, the SOPGA Junior Tour Championship got underway, with a talented field of 21 boys and 18 girls at the legendary Muirfield Village Golf Club. Players’ excitement for the day could not be contained as smiles lit up their faces the moment they stepped onto the putting green, despite the challenge that lay ahead. 

Prime August weather conditions were offset by some difficult pin locations, nevertheless players were up to the task. Gabe Scherer carded an impressive four-over-par 76 with the help of four birdies on the day to earn the early clubhouse lead in the Boys Division. 

“It was very cool to be on the course and to feel the energy of one of the toughest golf courses in the world and to remember some of the shots that some of the greats have hit out there,” noted Scherer after his round

Mitchell Sargent matched Scherer’s low round of the day at four-over-par 76. His impressive round was boosted by a 130 yard hole-out for eagle on the 14th and some steady play throughout the rest of his round. Understandably for Sargent, the 14th became his favorite hole on the day, and it seemed to be a consensus favorite among other boys in the field, including co-leader Gabe Scherer.

“I played well on a tough course, and plenty of better players have shot worse, so I’ll take 76 anyday. I tried to accept bogey when I knew it was going to happen, and tried to figure out when to attack pins and when not to,” said Sargent about his strategy during the opening round. 

Timothy Hollenbeck, Wright State commit and defending2022 Champion poured in three birdies of his own, and sits in second place, just two strokes behind the leaders. Click here to view the Boys Division leaderboard.

Saylor Wharff carded a solid 12-over-par 84, including two birdies to place her atop the Girls Division leaderboard. 

“I’m feeling accomplished. I’m blessed to have been able to play this course. It was definitely on my bucket list and it’s a day I’ll never forget. I left some shots out there, but I’m still proud of the way I played and how I kept my composure,” commented Wharff about her experience.

Wharff currently leads the ladies field by five strokes and is closely followed by Leann Harker. Harker was confident from the start, carding an opening round of 17-over-par 89 to keep her well within the chase for the tour championship title. 

“I was excited! The first hole set up really well for me. I’m a lefty, and I knew I could carry the bunkers, so I hit a good drive over, and took a bogey starting out,” Harker noted about her opening hole strategy. 

Both Wharff and Harker named the 10th hole as their favorite on the day. The girls field remains close knit as Angelina Gong, Paige Weiss, and Addison Burris round out the top-five. Click here to view the Girls Division leaderboard.

Anything can happen at “Jack’s Place” and the SOPGA Junior Tour Champions are eager to make their mark on the infamous course after gaining some familiarity. The Final Round begins at 8:00 AM on Wednesday, August 2nd. Click here to first the final pairings of the 2023 SOPGA Jr. Tour Season.