By Rory Sharrock
Mariah Stackhouse of Riverdale and Will Evans of McDonough are among the hundreds of teens nationwide with visions of United States Golf Association championship banners floating through their minds.
This week, they'll move one step closer of turning their dreams into a reality as they compete in the U.S. Girls and Junior Amateur Sectional Qualifier for an opportunity to play for the national championship.
The U.S. Girls' Junior Sectional Qualifier begins today at Braelinn Golf Club in Peachtree City. Stackhouse enters this event fresh off of winning consecutive Georgia Girls' Championships. Earlier this year, she captured the Georgia Women's Match Play title.
She's also no stranger to playing in national events, having already been crowned champion in the Callaway Junior Classic in Pine Mountain and Bartram Trail Junior Classic in Augusta.
Stackhouse is one of 23 players competing over 18 holes for three spots and two alternate positions in the championship. All together, five states will be on display at Braelinn Golf Club including Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina. There are also three players in the field from The Philippines.
Just like her other matches, she plans to bring her 'A' game to the course, which is set to play at 6,234 yards and a par of 72.
The U.S. Girls Junior Championship will be held July 21-26 at The Hartford Golf Club in West Hartford, Conn. Entries were open to females who will not have reached their 18th birthday on or before July 26, and who have a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 18.4.
Stackhouse is paired with Lou Isabelle Manalo of Laguna, Philippines and Rinko Mitsunaga of Roswell. Tee time is slated for 8:30 a.m.
There will be 31 qualifying sites nationwide including Braelinn Golf Club. These matches run from June 23 through July 2.
In the boys division, Evans takes his stab at glory in the U.S. Junior Amateur Sectional Qualifier at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens.
During today's round, 90 players from states such as Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina and California will compete over 36 holes for four spots and two alternate positions in the championship. After 18 holes of play, the field will be cut to the low 27 scores and ties, as well as all players within eight strokes of the leader.
The University of Georgia Golf Course will play to 7,025 yards and a par of 71. This sectional is one of 39 qualifying venues across the country, which began on June 16 and runs through Thursday, June 26.
Those who qualify advance to the 61st annual U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, taking place July 21-26 at Shoal Creek Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Ala. Entries were open to amateur golfers who will not have reached their 18th birthday on or before July 26 with a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 6.4.
Evans tees off at 8:15 a.m. with Julian Taylor of Greenville, S.C. and Bryan Fox of Roswell.