Since the American Junior Golf Association’s AJGA Invitational at Sedgefield was founded in 2002, hundreds of the best junior golfers in the country and many of the best in the world played in the tournament. As of the beginning of the 2019-’20 PGA TOUR season, 93 AJGA Invitational at Sedgefield alumni earned their PGA TOUR cards. That number backs the claim that this event boasts one of the strongest AJGA fields each summer.
Among the 75 golfers in this year’s field were 14 future Atlantic Coast Conference players including rising high school senior and future University of North Carolina golfer David Ford of Peachtree Corners, Ga. He won the 19th annual AJGA Invitational at Sedgefield by two strokes over the No. 1 junior golfer in the country who was playing his final junior tournament before transitioning to amateur events.
Ford entered the final round with a two-shot lead and in search of his first AJGA Invitational victory. After making the turn in one over par, he made four-straight pars before carding bogey on the par-4 14th, but he kept his composure and birdied the par-5 15th hole.
At about the same time, the No. 1 junior golfer in the country, Maxwell Moldovan, who will play for The Ohio State University next season, was in the process of making birdie on each of the last five holes. In fact, he nearly jarred his approach into the par-4 18th hole for eagle but settled for birdie and a final round 5-under par 65 to finish six under for the tournament.
Not knowing what Moldovan was doing and that his lead was just one stroke, Ford, then the No. 20 player in the Rolex AJGA Rankings, left his tee shot in front of the green at the par-3 16th hole but got up and down for par. On 17, the future Tar Heel blasted a 300-yard drive up the hill and had only 93 yards to the pin. He made birdie at 17 to open a two-stroke lead and made par at 18 to clinch an even-par 70 and 8-under par overall for a two-stroke victory and his first AJGA Invitational title. With the win, Ford jumped from 20th to eighth in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
“I’m kind of comfortable with the lead, and I’ve had a fair share of leads in the last couple of months,” Ford said. “It feels really good to finally finish the deal. It was kind of a rough putting day. I knew how well I was rolling it, just nothing went in. Everything was pure on the greens, but I just didn’t make a whole lot until 17. I’ve put myself in pretty good position my last four or five tournaments. I had the lead going into today, and to finish it off, it means a lot. I’ve been working for this for a while.”
Moldovan, the 2019 Rolex Junior Player of the Year of Uniontown, Ohio, and Wells Williams of West Point, Miss., finished tied for second at 6-under-par 274.
“I felt like all week I was close,” Moldovan said. “Just to finish my junior career with those five birdies is special. I wanted to win this week, but I talked to my friends and my parents and I just wanted to come out and have fun in this final round. I had a blast in this last junior tournament of my career.”
Jackson Van Paris, a rising senior from Pinehurst, N.C., was the first-round leader but finished tied for 10th and was the highest-finishing North Carolina player.