With the return of the International Junior Masters comes the return of Savoie Magic.
Last year, Quebec’s Joey Savoie and Buffalo’s James Blackwell (St. Joe’s, Ball State) dueled toe to toe all the way to the final green before Savoie won, 2-up, to claim the title in a thrilling finale.
Savoie leads the field as the five-day Junior Masters tournament is set to begin at East Aurora Country Club Monday with the athletes beginning their practice round in the morning, followed by a fundraiser, contestants’ long-drive contest and dinner. Medal play qualifying rounds will begin Tuesday morning.
The tournament features some of the top 14- to 18-year-old boys golfers in the world. The 61st anniversary of the Junior Masters includes athletes from 12 countries and 35 from the United States.
The tournament field includes four Golf Week Top 250 players: Luis Medina, Juan Carlos Serrano, Ryan Borg and Luis Garza. Savoie defeated all four last year. Other notable competition includes a team from Scotland, the first such squad in more than 30 years.
The 2011 champ, Rhyne Jones, will not attend this year.
Grand Island’s Aaron Schauger, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound 2013 Section VI champion, is one of the top local competitors. Schauger will attend the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the fall.
Other local competitors in the 80-player field include Chandler Kraska of Eden, Mark Joslin of Hamburg and Ben Reichert from Williamsville North, who competed for the Spartans last year as an eighth grader.
The East Aurora Country Club has hosted the International Junior Masters every year since 1953, and it is the oldest international junior invitational in North America.
The IJM website states the four-day tournament is “the first and possibly the only PGA member club-sponsored competition of its type in the entire country.”
There is no cost to attend the tournament, and parking is free, though the IJM stresses it is limited.
The first group will tee off at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Savoie, among the favorites with the four Golf Week-rated players, will golf with Joslin and Canada’s Nicholas Ross with the threesome slated to start at 8:36. The full schedule is available at internationaljuniormasters.com.