Three West Valley youth golfers are headed to one of the most prestigious tournaments at one of the country’s finest courses in late July.
Fifteen-year-old Eva Heinz and 13-year-olds Owen Bolles and Nikki Bowen qualified for the U.S. Kids World Golf Championship at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. The tournament, featuring hundreds of the nation’s top young golfers, takes place July 30 to August 1.
The city of Goodyear will be well-represented at Pinehurst, which hosted the U.S. Open in 2014, as the three trained for years with Jared Danford at the Palm Valley Golf Club.
Danford, who runs Danford Golf Instruction, specializes in working with youth golfers. This trio, he said, has the potential to finish within the top 20 in their respective age divisions at this tournament.
“Their work ethic,” Danford said. “That’s what sets them apart. They’re competitive and they like to work out.”
In a recent tournament, Heinz tied for first place, shooting a combined three over par in two rounds. She’s won each of her last three tournaments, according to Danford.
To qualify for the Kids World Golf Championship, each age division requires different qualifications. For Bolles’ 13-year-old boys’ division, he needed to shoot two consecutive rounds at 74 or better.
He did so easily, winning a recent tournament with a final score of five-under. It’s five straight rounds at 74 or better for him, Danford said.
And Bolles, one of the hardest-working young athletes Danford’s worked with, continues to get better. After playing in a four-day tournament, fighting off the heat, she strolled to the course the following day and put in more work on the course with Heinz.
“I was amazed that they were back out here practicing again. After four days of tournaments and the heat, I probably would’ve taken the day off,” he quipped.
Danford Golf Instruction has groomed this trio for a tournament of this magnitude for years now. Once a golfer for the Grand Canyon University men’s team, he now focuses on instruction, group lessons and youth tournament preparation.
“I really like the kids who have the drive and who want to play in tournaments. That’s how I was growing up. I can connect with them a little bit easier because I was competitive, and I really loved to play in tournaments. I can kind of pass on my experiences with them.”
Danford feels his trio is primed to make a splash – all at a historic course often reserved for the world’s best professional golfers.