Beattyville, Richmond golfers earn top state junior golfer honors

LOUISVILLE, Ky.  (Press Release) – The Kentucky PGA Junior Tour’s 2021 points standings have been finalized which confirms the season’s Players of the Year from each of the Tour’s nine divisions.

The 2021 campaign began in March with the Season Kick-Off from Griffin Gate Golf Club in Lexington. It was followed by thirteen Series Tournaments, nine two-day championships and three major championships each for boys and girls. The Tour’s points standings weighted each player’s performance from each of those events and has produced one of the strongest Player of the Year groups in the Tour’s history. They are as follows:

Zach Watterson | Boys 15-18: Hailing from Beattyville, Watterson has been a consistent newsmaker throughout the year. In May, he was named as one of the five recipients of the year’s Gay Brewer, Jr. Grant. On the golf course, he was one of the steadiest players of the season and could consistently be found near the top of the leaderboard at the Tour’s biggest events. Among his play was one of the great moments of the Tour’s season, a birdie putt on the 18th hole in the final round of the Kentucky Boys Junior PGA Championship that led to him finishing in a tie for first place at that event. Ultimately, Watterson enjoyed a season with six top-ten finishes which includes three top-five results.

“To be named 2021 Player of the Year is an extreme honor,” Watterson said. “My favorite moment on the course was the Kentucky Boys Junior PGA Championship when I made the twenty-footer on the last hole to tie for first there. This offseason, I plan on continuing my hard work practicing and entering the 2022 season razor sharp!”

Claira Beth Ramsey | Girls 15-18: The Richmond resident was a force in girls’ competitions this season as Ramsey enjoyed a career year. It was highlighted by a two-shot victory in the Kentucky Girls Junior Amateur at Bardstown Country Club, but Player of the Year honors were sealed in her name based off runner-up finishes in the Kentucky Girls Junior PGA Championship and the Series Tournament at Bellefonte Country Club. Having just begun her junior year at Madison Central, Ramsey appears to be on a path to be one of Kentucky Junior Golf’s top female players in the years to come before she begins her college career.

“It was an honor to receive this award, as well as a great surprise!” Ramsey continued by saying her highlight of the year “was the Kentucky Girls Junior Amateur where I led nearly the whole way. It was fun and stressful at the same time but was just good experience for me at this point in my career. Madison Central has performed really well this high school season so hopefully that will continue, but after that I plan on playing in a tournament at Vanderbilt in the beginning of November and then finishing up the year with a tournament in North Carolina that I got invited to thanks to winning the State Junior Amateur. My goals in 2022 are to just improve my overall golf game as much as possible. I don’t have any specific goals as far as scoring, rankings, wins, qualifying for events, or anything like that. I just want to focus on playing as well as I possibly can. When I do that, all the other stuff seems to work itself out.”

Liam O’Grady | Boys 14 & Under: In O’Grady’s seven starts this season, he won more than half the time as he found the winner’s circle on five occasions. One of those triumphs was the Kentucky Boys Junior PGA Championship at Gibson Bay Golf Course where two sub-70 rounds led to a dominating thirteen-shot margin of victory. His other wins came in the Series Tournament at A.J. Jolly, the Summer Preview, Northern Kentucky Junior Championship, and Lexington Junior Championship. All put together, it led to a comfortable 250-point gap between him and his closest challenger to be this division’s Player of the Year.

“The Player of the Year award is extremely special because I am competing with so many other talented golfers in Kentucky,” O’Grady stated. “The great competition makes winning this award very challenging and I am grateful to all the players that push me to my best throughout the season. My signature moment had to be the Boys Junior PGA at Gibson Bay. It was my best performance in multi-day tournament play so far and I really enjoy that course. A close second had to be my first hole-in-one at Hunting Creek during the Lou Perry Tour Championship. In the offseason, I plan on continuing my TPI training, sneak in a few golf trips, and work with my coaches with fine-tuning my swing. I’d really love to play college golf and will continue to work hard towards that goal.”

Alexa Salamah | Girls 14 & Under: Salamah had a 75% winning percentage this year and won Player of the Year for the Girls 14 & Under Division by more than 350 points. Both of those achievements showcase just how high of a level Salamah was at this year. For good measure, she won each of the major trophies in this division by double-digit margins to punctuate an incredible season.

“This award meant a lot to me because this summer was the first time I branched out from Owensboro area tournaments,” Salamah explained. “I originally wanted to play in the 12 & Under Division, but my mom encouraged me to try this division, so I wasn’t expecting a lot entering the year. It’s exciting to me that I was able to play well enough to achieve this award. I’m currently playing golf for Owensboro High School and looking forward to Regionals and State. In the past, I’ve done volleyball and tennis in the offseason which I will continue to do, but I plan on spending a bit more time practicing golf this time around as I also plan to start working with a PGA Professional. In 2022, I hope to get my approach shots closer to the flag and compete in more 36-hole tournaments.”

Andrew Perry | Boys 11-12: One of the most active participants of the season, Perry logged a dozen tournaments throughout the year and walked away with victories three times. He won the Northern Kentucky Junior Championship and the Series Tournaments at Winchester Country Club and Pendleton Hills. He also had four runner-up finishes which propelled him to the top of the standings, edging out Jacob Thompson by just twenty points.
Caroline Lankford | Girls 10-12: A major victory in the Kentucky Girls Junior PGA Championship plus a runner-up finish in the Kentucky Girls Junior Amateur proved pivotal in Lankford getting this division’s top spot. Lankford flashed her potential in the final round when she won at University Club at Arlington, shooting 37 (+1) to edge out Willa Borough, who also shot that same score that day in what became an exciting final round.

“That tournament came down to the last hole which really got my adrenaline going,” Lankford exclaimed. “That was one of my favorite moments of the season battling it out to the final hole there. Healing a broken finger is the most important thing for me the rest of 2021. Then I’ll get back to working on my swing to get it in form for the 2022 season.”

Drayden Lindsay | Boys 10 & Under: For the second consecutive year, Lindsay is this division’s Player of the Year. Ten tournaments with three victories, including the Lou Perry Tour Championship, proved to be the key in Lindsay once again cementing his place as one of the best young talents in the state. That was made clear by his performance at Hunting Creek Country Club when he got that major victory, as he notched an under-par round followed by an even-par score. His consistency at a young age has been very noticeable and signals tons of promise.

“Winning the Player of the Year award is awesome and means a lot to me,” Lindsay described. “It’s something that keeps me motivated all season long. Winning the Lou Perry Tour Championship and getting a top-ten in a national junior event were my season highlights. This offseason, I plan on practicing more on my short game and putting. Then in 2022, my goals are to shoot under-par in an 18-hole tournament and my long-term dreams are to be on the PGA TOUR and win The Masters.”

Emlie Miller | Girls 9 & Under: Like Lindsay, Miller is also a repeat Player of the Year having also claimed this honor in 2020. This season, Miller quite literally had the perfect season as she teed it up six times and won on each of those six occasions. Included in them were each of the major titles, as she won by at least five shots in each of the Tour’s premier events. For the season-long points, she ended up 250 points ahead of Charlie Hix while Emlie’s sister Kylie finished in third place.

“I’m so happy to be receiving this award for the second consecutive year,” Miller stated. “It means so much to me to be named Player of the Year. My signature moment of the season was when I holed out from 76 yards away at the 10th hole of Country Club of Paducah during the Independence Bank Western Kentucky Junior Championship. I’m getting ready to play in the Middle School Regional at Calvert City Country Club next Saturday, then this offseason I’m going to continue perfecting my swing by incorporating more lag and distance. Also, I’m always working to improve my putting and short game! Next year, I want to keep winning as many tournaments as possible and try to be Player of the Year for the third year in a row.”

Max DeHaven | Boys 8 & Under: Rounding out the Tour’s 2021 Players of the Year is Max DeHaven, who was a busy bee this season having competed in sixteen tournaments. He won five times, highlighted by a victory in the Lou Perry Tour Championship. Perhaps more impressively, he never finished worse than third in any of his starts. It was a tight race in this division from start to finish as DeHaven and Matthew White were neck and neck all year, but DeHaven ultimately clipped White by 32.5 points to claim this elite award.

“This summer, I learned how to deal with my emotions,” DeHaven divulged. “The best moment of the year was at the Lou Perry Tour Championship when I chipped in for an eagle and then won the tournament with a score of 70 (-2). I know I’m young, but I would love to be on the PGA TOUR when I’m older.”

The Kentucky PGA Junior Tour congratulates each of these players and their families on these awards and thanks them for their participation all season. Each player will receive a new golf bag courtesy of Sun Mountain with the player’s name on the bag thanks to these accomplishments.

This fall, one boy and one girl will be named the 2021 Golf House Kentucky Junior Players of the Year, which accounts for performance in the top local, regional, and national junior tournaments plus prestigious amateur competitions.

The Tour will be focused on the remainder of the high school season for the next month but will also host the Middle School Regionals and Championship on September 18-19 and September 25. One final Kentucky PGA Junior Tour event will be held on October 16-17 at University Club of Kentucky (Big Blue) with the Fall Classic. Registration for that event is available and open to all players.

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