SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 19, 2018) – Mia Hidalgo, Ben Sluzas and Emily Duan and are all alumni of Championships past, but that’s not all they have in common: they are here to watch their three younger siblings compete in this year’s field at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Hidalgo, 14, competed in the 2016 Championship with a different Team Connecticut, helmed by PGA President Suzy Whaley.
“It’s fun now that Sydney gets to do it [the Championship],” said Mia Hidalgo. “This is such an amazing experience. It’s a whole new team, and it’s new people she can be friends with.”
The older Hidalgo sister regularly played with Matthew Doyle and Jackson Roman in both the regular season and in the Championship. The three met through PGA Jr. League, and that bond has remained strong.
“We became really good friends,” commented Hidalgo. “We still talk. I just played with Matthew a few days ago.”
Younger sister Sydney, 13, has been participating in PGA Jr. League since she was 6-years-old. She has been paired with 11-year-old North Chery since the very beginning.
In fact, Hidalgo holed out from 75 yards for an eagle during Saturday’s afternoon session, as Chery looked on and cheered.
PGA Jr. League is also a family affair for both the Sluzas and Duans of Team Illinois.
Emily Duan, 14, made three consecutive trips to the Championship (2015, 2016 and 2017) representing the state of Illinois. Ben Sluzas, 15, competed alongside Duan at the 2016 Championship.
Duan is a standout freshman at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois. The only freshman on the varsity girls golf team, she helped her team take fifth place Class 2A IHSA tournament as the individual top finisher, tying for seventh with a 150.
“I love the competitive spirit and atmosphere [of PGA Jr. League],” said Duan. “It’s better celebrating with a team than alone.”
What’s it like watching her younger sister, Allyson, 11, compete at the PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental?
“A lot of nostalgia,” Duan said. “For the past three years, she’s been cheering me on, and now, it’s my turn.”
Like his former teammate Emily, Ben Sluzas, 15, is also a high school golf standout, recently becoming a Class 3A individual state high school champion as a sophomore. He also competed in the Boys Junior PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club this year. Sluzas made clear that this success can be traced back to a single origin: PGA Jr. League.
Katie Sluzas wanted her sons to learn golf. She introduced them to the game herself, but she and her husband, Jason, were looking for more. They found PGA Jr. League at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, led by PGA Professional Kevin Weeks, and the rest is history.
Both Ben and his mother recall the same fond memory after his very first PGA Jr. League game.
“PGA Jr. League was the beginning of the love of golf for me,” said Ben. “I just remember after the first time I played, I told my mom that I loved it, and I wanted to play every day.”
When it’s Katie’s turn to comment, she can’t help but get emotional.
“I’ll never forget it,” Sluzas said. “Ben came running up to me and said, “Mom, I love this!” Those are memories that I will have forever from PGA Jr. League. It holds a special place in our heart, and it always will.”
Team Connecticut's North Chery (left) with playing partner Sydney Hidalgo at the Championship. (Darren Carroll/PGA of America)
Allyson Duan with Captain Kevin Weeks, PGA. (Darren Carroll/PGA of America)
The 7th PGA Jr. League Presented by National Car Rental is being held at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, Nov. 16-19. The Championship concludes today following Monday morning's fifth and final divisional session. Afterwards, the top four teams will play in Monday afternoon’s Championship session, with the top two teams in each division (California and Minnesota) playing for first and second place; and the two second-place teams from each division (Texas and Louisiana) playing for third and fourth place.
Live scoring, stories and updates can be found here.
For a video of both Steph Curry and Alex Morgan joining as PGA Jr. League Ambassadors this weekend, please click here.
News & Notes!
BIG AMBASSADOR NEWS
Golden State Warriors All-Star and two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry and Olympic Gold Medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion Alex Morgan were just named the newest PGA Jr. League Ambassadors. They join Ambassadors Rory McIlroy, Michelle Wie, Rickie Fowler and Lexi Thompson, all of whom are committed to growing youth golf.
For a video of the announcement of Steph Curry and Alex Morgan becoming PGA Jr. League Ambassadors, please click here.
GOLF CHANNEL COVERAGE
Each of the last two years, PGA REACH, Grayhawk Golf Club and National Car Rental have worked together with Golf Channel to air a two-hour, primetime special highlighting the event. This year’s show will debut on Dec. 4, airing at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and 12:30 a.m. ET/9:30 p.m. PT.
NATIONAL CAR RENTAL SUPPORT
Presenting Partner National Car Rental hosted a fun and relaxing reception at Topgolf Saturday night that was open to all Championship players and their families.
MEET OUR CUB REPORTER WARREN FISHER!
The off-course star of the show is PGA Jr. League golfer Warren Fisher, 11, of Riverton, Utah. Fisher has been an onsite correspondent and cub reporter for social media and Golf Channel reports. The suave and debonair son of PGA Professional Annie Fisher, Warren serves as a junior ambassador for PGA Jr. League, with his fun and hilarious updates from the Championship. Fisher regularly hosts "The Warren Report" for the Utah PGA Section. He dreams of being the next David Feherty as an on-air sportscaster. He also talks about becoming President of the United States one day. His political goals are why he regularly wears a bow tie and is dressed to the nines in a tailored suit.