First held by the Western Golf Association in 1914, the Western Junior has served as a proving ground for future PGA TOUR stars, including past champions Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and 2015 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Daniel Berger 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, the country’s oldest national junior golf championship, was last played in Michigan in 2005 when Fowler claimed the title at Blythefield Country Club in Belmont. This is the first time Red Run has hosted the Western Junior.
“As Chairman of the Western Golf Association, it is a unique opportunity and quite an honor to host one of our three golf championships at my home club,” said WGA Chairman David Robinson of Troy, Michigan. “Red Run is known for having some of the best greens in the state of Michigan, and presents an outstanding test to these talented players.”
This year’s field is headlined by a bevy of talented high school players including Kaito Onishi of Japan, who is enrolled at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Onishi has verbally committed to play college golf at USC. Other top players include Auburn verbal commit Andrew Kozan of West Palm Beach, Florida; future North Carolina Tar Heel Ryan Gerard of Raleigh, North Carolina; and Harrison Ott of Brookfield, Wisconsin, who has verbally committed to play for Vanderbilt.
Local players of interest include rising Michigan State freshman Andrew Walker of Battle Creek, Michigan; Ben Smith, of Novi, Michigan, who is verbally committed to play at Georgia Tech; and James Piot of Canton, Michigan, who finished in the top 10 at the 2015 Western Junior. Piot has verbally committed to Michigan State.
“The blend of promising local, national and international talent is what sets the Western Junior apart from so many other junior golf championships,” said Vince Pellegrino, the WGA’s Senior Vice President of Tournaments. “This year’s field is exceptionally deep, and we look forward to seeing how they fare on Red Run’s historic course.”
Originally designed in 1914 by Tom Bendelow and redesigned in 1916 by World Golf Hall of Famer Willie Park Jr., Red Run has seen golf greats Ben Hogan, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson pass through its doors. In addition to the 1958 Western Open, Red Run also hosted the Motor City Open in 1950 and 1951.
2016 Western Junior field