Denmark boys, Japan girls defend their titles at Chukyo GC

TOYOTA CITY, Japan – The Spanish duo of David Puig and Jose Luis Ballester, both inside the top 65 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking, headline the field as 87 of the world’s best junior golfers arrive next week for the TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup Supported by JAL.

Alex Vogelsong, a recent winner of the Terra Cotta Invitational, seeks to lead the United States to a third victory in the past four editions when competition tees off June 18 at Chukyo Golf Club in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture.

Team USA also features the top player in the girls’ competition, as Rose Zhang stands 15th among the world’s top women amateurs regardless of age. Mexico’s Isabella Fierro also is among the WAGR’s top 30.

Denmark is the defending boys’ champion in the 72-hole team competition, while host Japan seeks to go back-to-back on the girls’ side.

“The quality of play in our participants continues to rise with each passing year,” said tournament committee Chairman William Kerdyk. “On behalf of all those who work so hard to make this event a success, we are proud to once again present junior golf’s finest international team competition.”

The TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup Supported by JAL, now in its 27th edition, is the final destination of a process that begins with nearly 70 national teams entered in regional qualifiers across six continents.

The boys’ field features 15 teams competing for the world championship, while nine teams advanced to the girls’ finals.

The competition uses a format similar to U.S. college golf, with each boys’ team counting the three best scores among its four players each day. In the girls’ division, each team will count the two best scores among three.

A half-dozen former TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup participants have gone on to win major champions, most recently England’s Danny Willett at the 2016 Masters. This year, 2013 Open Championship winner Henrik Stenson will be added to the tournament’s hall of fame.

Previous major winners include South Africa’s Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters), Louis Oosthuizen (2010 Open Championship) and Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters), along with 2013 U.S. Open winner and reigning Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose of England.

“It is exciting to see so many of our former participants reach the highest levels in the game,” said committee Vice Chairman Eiji Tagashira. “And with the 2020 Olympics just on the horizon, some of those teeing up in Tokyo will have gotten their first taste of representing their country at the TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup Supported by JAL.”

Puig has won three tournaments in 2019, including the Madrid Open Amateur and a six-shot romp at the Barcelona Amateur. Now ranked No.46 by the WAGR, he also placed ninth at the prestigious Sage Valley Invitational in South Carolina.

Ballester, ranked 64th, owns two wins this year and was second behind Puig at the Barcelona Amateur. He also took runner-up honors at the Junior Orange Bowl Invitational back in January.

Vogelsong, a Floridian set to play collegiately at Auburn this fall, finally captured the first victory of his career by winning a playoff for the Terra Cotta Invitational in Florida. Ranked No.98, he also placed third at the Junior Orange Bowl International.

South Africa’s Martin Vorster returns for his second TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup, earning a share of fifth among individuals last year while helping South Africa to a fifth-place team finish. He won the Western Province Match Play in his homeland and placed fourth at this year’s All-Africa Juniors Challenge.

Teammate Samuel Simpson, meantime, won the All-Africa Juniors along with the South Africa Boys U19 Championship and last year’s Bobby Locke Open.

Denmark’s title defense will be led by August Thor Host, who placed seventh at the Junior Orange Bowl Invitational.

Other countries in the boys’ field are Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Philippines, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and Uganda.

On the girls’ side, Zhang arrives off her first appearance in the U.S. Women’s Open, where she made the cut and tied for 55th. She’s a former winner of the Junior PGA Championship (2017) and PING Invitational (2018), and recently was runner-up at the Thunderbird International.

Fierro, ranked No.28, recently won the Mexican Girls’ Junior and is a former champion of the prestigious North & South Women’s Amateur in North Carolina. She will play collegiately at Oklahoma State this fall.

Mexico also will be represented by Cory Lopez, this year’s Women’s Mexican Amateur titleholder and a former winner of the Major Champions Invitational in Florida.

Leading Japan’s title defense will be Tsubasa Kajitani, who placed second at the Australian Women’s Amateur in January and recently took fourth at the Kansai Women’s Amateur.

Rounding out the girls’ field will be Australia, Colombia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain and Sweden.

*Live scoring will be provided throughout the event by Golfstat, accessible online at Golfstat.com.

**More information about the TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup Supported by JAL and be found online at WJGTC.org, including a video library that includes interviews with former World Cup participants.