#AJGAAlum in the headlines (Nov. 10)

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By Amanda Herrington (@AJGAAmanda), AJGA Communications

Bubba-Watson-Pink-ShortsBubba Waston eagled the final hole in dramatic fashion to tie Tim Clark at 11-under-par 277 at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China. Watson birdied the par-5 No. 18 to win his first World Golf Championship via playoff.

Watson played in AJGA events for six years, from 1992-97. He competed in events including the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior, the Rolex Tournament of Champions and the Polo Golf Junior Classic, compiling more than 14 top-10 AJGA finishes. Watson was victorious twice in his junior career with wins at the 1993 ICS Gateway Junior Classic and the 1993 Port Armour Junior. He earned Rolex Junior All-America honors in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

South Africa native Clark played in just one AJGA event as a junior.  At the age of 17, Clark earned his spot in the Las Vegas Founders Legacy Junior after shooting a 74 to win the qualifier. He finished ninth after rounds of 72-75-72. Clark went on to compete at North Carolina State University where he was named the 1997 ACC Player of the Year.

Two-time Rolex Junior All-American ZeCheng Dou made his professional debut in Shangai, finishing T69 after rounds of 76-73-74-78. Dou tallied nine top 10s in 15 AJGA starts from 2011-14. His best showings came in 2013 when he finished seventh at the FJ Invitational and Rolex Tournament of Champions. In his last AJGA event at the 2014 Thunderbird International Junior, Dou tied for 12th.  

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Dou at the 2013 FJ Invitational where he finished seventh.

Two FJ Invitational champions finished in the top five at the Sanderson Farms Championship: Peter Uihlein (2007 champion) and Justin Thomas (2009 champion) tied for fourth at 13-under-par 275.

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Uihlein at the 2007 FJ Invitational.

A four-time Rolex Junior All-American, Uihlein recorded six career AJGA victories and was named Rolex Junior Player of the Year in both 2005 and 2007. He posted top Invitational finishes including the 2005 AJGA Boys Junior Championship (4th), 2005 Thunderbird International Junior (3rd) and the 2006 Rolex Tournament of Champions where he finished runner-up. A 2008 high school graduate, Uihlein went on to win the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship and compete at Oklahoma State.

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Thomas at the 2009 FJ Invitational.

Thomas, a two-time Rolex Junior All-American, recorded back-to-back wins at the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior in 2008 and 2009. In 2009, he became the third youngest player to make the cut at a PGA TOUR event when he made his debut at the Wyndham Championship after earning an exemption through his win at the FJ Invitational. Thomas went on to play for Alabama, where he won both the Haskins Award and Nicklaus Award for his freshman achievements.

It was déjà vu for the duo as former AJGA Vice President of Tournament Operations Jonah Beck, now at the helm of the Sanderson Farms Championship, was the tournament director at the 2007 and 2009 FJ Invitationals, where the pair were crowned champions.


Beck shakes hands with Uihlein (left) and Thomas (right) after their FJ Invitational wins.

Beck began his role of Director of Operations of the Mississippi PGA TOUR event in January 2014 after a nine-year tenure at the AJGA. Beck is the latest in the long line of former AJGA staff members who now run PGA TOUR events.

Also in Mississippi, AJGA junior Camden Backel qualified for his first PGA TOUR event after winning an eight-man playoff for the final spot. He missed the cut after rounds of 74-78.

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Backel at the 2013 Preseason Junior at Brookhaven.

Backel of Madison, Mississippi, made his AJGA debut in a Preseason Series event, finishing in the top 15, and also competed in the 2013 KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior Open.