For the last several years, the Western Golf Association has become more ingrained in the Southern Nevada golf community. The latest news of this partnership comes with Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association members Lauren Pham and Mason Snyder being selected to play in the Western Junior Amateur, one of the sport’s biggest events.–By Brian Hurlburt, www.lasvegasgolfinsider.com
The Western Junior is the oldest national junior tournament in the United States. Each year, it draws the top junior players from more than 40 states and around the world. The event has long been a testing ground for stars of the future, including current PGA TOUR standouts Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler and veterans Fred Couples, Craig Stadler, Corey Pavin, and Jim Furyk.
The 2022 Western Junior is scheduled for June 20-23 at Naperville Country Club in Naperville, Illinois. Click for all Western Junior info.
The field is limited to 156 entrants. Competition begins with 36 holes of stroke play, after which the field is cut to the low 44 and ties. Those who make the cut will play 36 more holes of stroke play in hopes of winning the Western Junior title.
Pham and Snyder earned spots in 2022 due to their play on the course but also from the efforts of the local Evans Scholarship Alumni group. The Evans Scholarship is for college-bound students who served in the caddie program in Illinois and established by the Western Golf Association.
“Western Golf and the SNGA/SNJGA formally affiliated about five years ago when our local Evans Scholar alumni group surfaced the idea and brought it to fruition through perseverance and collaboration,” says Tom Fitzgerald, an Evans Scholar alum. “The SNGA and SNJGA get Nevada kids ‘on the radar screen’ with WGA golf event officials for possible inclusion based on scoring averages, and the affiliation (also helps). … But not only do the SNJGA golfers benefit from formal affiliation with WGA, other local Las Vegas high school kids (largely non-golfers) benefit from the Evans Scholarship/Caddie Academy. I am happy alongside my fellow Nevada Evans Scholar alums for having had an active hand in making those good things happen to great Nevada kids. We alums would be absolute hypocrites to not put something back into the Evans Scholarship and Western Golf Associated families for which we have so greatly benefited many years ago.”
In 2022, four Southern Nevada kids earned full ride Evans scholarships to college through the Evans program. Even more may earn these $125,000 (est.) scholarships in 2023.
For Pham and Snyder, playing the Western Junior continues their path toward strong college golf careers. Pham is a class of 2023 at Bishop Gorman while Snyder has committed to play collegiately at Loyola Marymount. In May 2022, Snyder won the 2022 Nevada State 5A golf individual title representing Palo Verde High.
Pham’s passion of golf will surely do her well during the Western Junior.
“Golf is such an unpredictable sport,” Pham believes about the game. “You could go out shooting the round of your life one tournament, and end up on the opposite end of the spectrum the next. It’s the challenge of another week. The persistence of trying to play better than I did the last round keeps the fire burning.”
Fitzgerald and his fellow alums are thrilled with the partnership.