Mouw to defend Western Junior title

GOLF, Illinois (June 4, 2018) – William Mouw of Chino, California, will attempt to become the first player in 77 years to repeat as Western Junior champion when Evanston Golf Club in Skokie, Illinois, hosts the 101st Western Junior next month.

The event, to be held June 18-21, will feature Mouw and an international field of 156 top junior players, all vying to win the country’s oldest national junior golf championship.

Mouw, a 17-year-old AJGA Rolex All-American who has committed to play college golf at Pepperdine, strolled away from the field at Park Ridge Country Club in Park Ridge, Illinois, to win the 100th Western Junior. His 72-hole total of 266 tied the 72-hole record set by Hunter Mahan in 1999 on the Tradition course at Treetops Sylvan Resort in Michigan.

If he repeats as champion this year, Mouw would become the first player since Ben Downing in 1940-41 to claim back-to-back Western Junior titles.

First held by the Western Golf Association in 1914, the Western Junior has served as a proving ground for many future PGA TOUR stars, including past champions Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar also have competed in the Western Junior. The event was not played for several years during World War I and World War II.

The Western Junior has been played in more than 15 states and at several prestigious Chicagoland golf clubs, but never at Evanston, which was established in 1898.

Evanston was among 11 charter clubs that established the WGA in 1899 to help spread the game of golf across the Midwest, but has never hosted one of the WGA’s iconic golf championships.

“Few golf clubs have the tradition and history of Evanston,” said Vince Pellegrino, the WGA’s Senior Vice President of Tournaments. “The club holds a special place in the history of the WGA, and we’re excited to bring this event and a field of the country’s best junior players to Evanston.”

Legendary golf architect Donald Ross designed the 18-hole course at Evanston in 1917 and was said to have visited the club several times over the course of its construction to view its progress. The course was last renovated in 2007 by Ron Pritchard, who preserved the signature elements of the Ross design while updating the course for the modern game.

Among those attempting to unseat Mouw will be 2017 Western Junior runner-up Karl Vilips of Perth, Australia. Vilips, who has verbally committed to play collegiate golf at Stanford, recently ascended to No. 1 in the AJGA Rolex Rankings.

Other top players who have committed to play in the Western Junior include Akshay Bhatia of Wake Forest, North Carolina, who won the 2018 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley in April; incoming San Diego State freshman Leo Oyo; 16-year-old Jeewon Park of South Korea, who has committed verbally to play at Arizona State; Minneapolis native Derek Hitchner, who will be an incoming freshman at Pepperdine in the fall; and future Florida Gator Wocheng Ye of Dongguan, China, who finished T59 last year at the Volvo China Open.

Local players of interest include Illinois commit Tommy Kuhl of Morton, Illinois; Iowa recruit Garrett Tighe of Algonquin, Illinois, who won the AJGA Under Armour Canadian Championship last year; former state champion and Hinsdale native Brendan O’Reilly, who recently concluded his freshman season at Illinois; Chip Savarie of Winnetka, Illinois, who will play collegiate golf next year Wisconsin; and Connor Prassas, also of Winnetka, who just finished his first year at Michigan.

“This year’s field is exceptionally deep,” Pellegrino said. “The blend of promising local, national and international talent is what has set the Western Junior apart from other junior golf championships.”