January 14, 2020
The Tournament Committee of The Gator Invitational Junior Championship is excited to announce our 2020 field. The 57 player field was selected from among more than 200 applications received from 29 states and 12 countries. Our committee was overwhelmed with both the quality and the quantity of applications received and are thrilled with the direction of our still very young event.
The 2020 field includes 42 players ranked inside the top 150 juniors overall—in at least one of the major ranking systems. This includes 28 top 100 players and 9 ranked inside the top 50. Competitors will come from 13 different states and 8 different countries to compete over 54 holes at The Country Club of Jackson—home of the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship.
Headlining the 2020 field are identical twins from Peachtree Corners, GA—Maxwell & David Ford—who are making their second straight trip to The Gator. Both finished T6 in last year’s event and used that strong spring finish to vault themselves into outstanding summer and fall seasons. Maxwell is the #7 player nationally, according to Golfweek, and his brother David is #21. They are both top 5 in their graduating class of 2021 and represent the two highest ranked WAGR (World Amateur Golf Rankings) players in the field. David will play at North Carolina and Maxwell will play at Georgia upon graduation in 2021.
A pair of Texans—Stephen Campbell, Jr. and J. Holland Humphries—will be making their first Gator appearance. Stephen is fresh off a trip to Australia where he helped the American’s defeat the International team in the Junior President’s Cup, and is ranked 26th in the Rolex/AJGA rankings. Stephen will become a member of the Oklahoma golf team this fall. J. Holland is ranked 28th in the Rolex rankings and has been competing in, and performing well in the biggest junior tournaments in the world for the last two years. Following graduation in 2021, J. Holland will join the SMU golf team.
The Class of 2023 will be well represented with the top 5 players from that class all coming to The Gator in Tommy Morrison (#1 JGS), Gaven Lane (#2 JGS), Tyler Lee (#3 Rolex), Anawin Pikulthong (#4 JGS) and Luke Coyle #5 JGS). Gaven became the 3rd youngest player in history to compete at the US Amateur when he did so entering his 8th grade year in 2018.
The field will also feature 8 players from host state Mississippi, including Wells Wiliams who, according to Rolex/AJGA, is the top ranked player in the state of Mississippi. In addition to the local touch, the field has a significant international flare as well. Leading a group of strong international players is Portugal’s Kiko Franscisco Coelho, who is fresh off an impressive top 10 finish in the Orlando International Amateur. Coelho is the field’s highest ranked SPWAR (Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings) player coming in at 469 out of the 13,000+ ranked players across the globe. Kiko will graduate in 2021 and become a member of the Arizona St. golf team.
2020 saw the implementation of our new Priority level system intended to be a guide during our selection process and to help prospective players understand where they fall within the context of how our committee evaluates players. Like any system, it is not perfect, but we were very pleased with the way the applicants fell into our system. With only a couple of exceptions the committee relied completely on this system.
The Gator also rewards top performers in some of our region’s junior golf tournaments with exemptions into The Gator. This is meant both to provide opportunities for local/regional players to earn entry into this national event, and also to help build the status of these regional events.
The Gator is partnered with The First Tee of Central MS and a significant portion of proceeds from this event go to benefit the programs at our local First Tee chapter. The event also serves as the annual fundraiser for CCJ’s junior golf association. CCJ is one of only 13 private country clubs in America that hosts a PGA Tour event, making it one of only a very few that host the PGA Tour and an elite junior event.