[Pro golfer Lee Janzen, left, with Jay Frolick. Photo courtesy: Marc Howard]
As the eyes of the golf world set to focus on France for the 42nd Ryder Cup this weekend the future of the game is in the safe hands of some of the sport’s legendary figures.
For the 15th time, PGA Tour Champions players are in Pebble Beach playing alongside First Tee representatives from around the country. Beginning Friday, 81 junior players aged 14-18 will pair up with 81 tour pros to compete for the PURE Insurance Championship.
Twenty-two states are represented in the event. Two Minnesotans – Jay Frolick of First Tee Twin Cities and Kurt Lambert of First Tee Three Rivers Park District – are among the field.
Frolick is paired with two-time U.S. Open winner and Minnesota native Lee Janzen this week, and Lambert with Kenny Perry, who this summer captured his third 3M Championship trophy in Blaine.
The juniors play one round each at Pebble Beach and nearby Poppy Hills with the low 23 advancing to Sunday’s final round back at Pebble Beach. Each day is televised live on Golf Channel from 4-7 p.m.
“It’s an honor,” said Frolick, 16, a junior at Minneapolis Washburn who plays out of Hiawatha Golf Club. “I’ve already gotten a lot of good advice out there and I think this is going to be a lot of fun. The atmosphere is unbelievable.”
Frolick, a 3.3 handicap, stands 6-3 and uses his big frame as a big advantage much like Dustin Johnson or Tony Finau.
“I think if myself as an athlete not just a golfer,” Frolick said.
Frolick is coming up on the one-year anniversary of his first hole-in-one, made last October with a pitching wedge from 145 yards away on the back nine at Theodore Wirth Golf Club.
He didn’t offer any crazy predictions like scoring another ace during competition this week. Frolick is playing to win but said the experience will be more than enough to carry with him for years to come.
“All of the people I’ve met and all the connections will be a huge advantage,” said Frolick, who has aspirations of playing Division I golf. “I’m learning so much that will help me for the future.”
Since the First Tee was established in 1997 more than 15 million youth players have entered the program, which focuses on nine core values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgement.
The junior players selected to participate in Pebble Beach are chosen by a national panel of judges, who consider playing ability and application of the nine core values.
“It’s an awesome experience for them,” defending champion Bernhard Langer said. “And I always say God spent overtime creating this place. It’s just so beautiful.”
[From left: Lee Janzen, Jay Frolick and and Grant Shafranski of First Tee Twin Cities. Photo courtesy: Dave Frolick.]