Utah Wins 50th Annual Junior America’s Cup at Ruby Hill Shooting 20-under Par

Team Utah has won the 50th Annual Junior America’s Cup, hosted by the Junior Golf Association of Northern California, shooting 20-under par for the three days. Utah shot 1-under par team total 215 in the final round, to hang on to their round two lead and edged out 2nd place Arizona by two strokes and 3rd place Southern California by four strokes. Pacing Utah in the final round were Parker Bunn and Kihei Akina, both shooting 1-under par 71’s. Utah’s Boston Bracken and Cooper Jones shot 1-over par 73’s on Thursday. The last time Utah took the team title was 2019 when they were co-champions in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

“It was great to see the Utah kids battle back after getting off to a really slow start. Being down the way we were with two holes to play and finishing with 2 birdies on 17, and 3 birdies and an eagle on 18, really showed the true character of our players.” – Utah Captain Nate Herzog

Arizona and Southern California both made final round charges to try to catch Utah but fell just short. Arizona fired a 6-under par 210 team total for the final round, with Rylan Johnson and Adam Miller both shooting 3-under par 69’s, with Carlos Astiazaran shooting even par 72 and Johnnie Clark shooting 76. Rylan Johnson captured the Sally Pini medalist award, shooting 11-under par over the three days. This was the 1st time that an Arizona player has captured the Sally Pini medalist award.

Southern California’s final round run (7-under par 209) was highlighted by Josh Koo and Kai Hirayama who each shot 4-under par 68’s, which lead them to respectively finish 2nd and 3rd individually. Patrick Hong’s shot 73 with Dylan Oyama shot 76 on Thursday for Southern California. Pacing host Northern California was Clark Van Gaalen, who finished in 8th place at 3-under par for the tournament (209). The highlight of the championship for Van Gaalen was his 2nd round 7-under par 65.

Like a collegiate event, the Junior America’s Cup features 18 teams of four boys representing their state, province or country. The competition takes place over 3 days with 18-holes played each day for a total of 54-holes played to determine the winning team. Each team counts its best three scores each round with the low scoring team after 54-holes being crowned the 2021 champions and presented with the champions medals & trophy.

The 2022 competition marked the 50th anniversary of the Junior America’s Cup championship and the fourth time it was held in Northern California. The previous time the event was hosted in Northern California was 2004 which was at San Joaquin Country Club, in Fresno, California. The team from Mexico won the championship that year. Junior America’s Cup Alumni from the 2004 Championship include Tony Finau (team Utah) who just won PGA Tour events the past two weeks, as well as Andrew Putnam and Kyle Stanley.

Past Junior America’s Cup participants who have gone on to successful professional careers include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler, Ryan Moore, Kyle Stanley and Tony Finau.

Situated in the heart of the Livermore Wine Valley, The Club at Ruby Hill was etched into the landscape on fertile land originally occupied by the Ruby Hill Winery.

The original grape-growing property was founded by John Crellin in 1887, with money made in the oyster trade. It was named for the bright red soil its vineyards boasted. The winery was eventually abandoned, and in 1989 it burned, leaving only a few walls standing.

The land then transferred to the Catholic Church and subsequently to Wente Vineyards. In 1985, a friend and business partner of Jack Nicklaus’ approached luxury home developer Jim Ghielmetti with the idea of building the area’s first-ever Jack Nicklaus Signature Design Golf Course in Northern California. Mr. Ghielmetti approached the Wente Family and shared his vision for the land. In 1987, the process was started to secure all of the government approvals and move forward with the project.

Construction on the golf course began on Labor Day 1993, with Jack Nicklaus supervising every detail. The Club at Ruby Hill opened its doors in 1996.

Andrew Columbro
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