Play begins Tuesday at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
The Junior PGA Championship features close to 150 of the best young golfers from around the United States and beyond.
Two of them are from Green High School.
Max Moldovan and Cade Breitenstine are set for the 43rd Boys Junior PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. The 72-hole, stroke-play event begins Tuesday, with a cut at the top 70 plus ties coming after 36 holes.
Moldovan and Breitenstine will get in practice rounds Sunday and Monday before teeing off for real on Tuesday — Breitenstine at 9:30 a.m. on No. 1 tee and Moldovan at 2 p.m. on No. 10. Neither has ever played the Jack Nicklaus-designed course, which has hosted three PGA Championships and the 2008 Ryder Cup.
“It’s pretty sweet,” said Moldovan, a junior this upcoming high school season and Ohio’s defending Division I state champion. “I bet there aren’t a whole lot of high schools that can say they’ve had two kids at this.”
According to Northern Ohio PGA Tournament Director David Griffith, this is the first time his section has sent two boys from the same school to the Junior PGA Championship. Of course, until recently, the section only sent one boy and one girl. The Junior PGA field basically doubled in recent years, allowing sections to send more kids.
Still, this is pretty rare.
“They’re two very accomplished players,” Griffith said. “It’s going to be exciting to see what they can do there.”
Thirty-seven states, along with China, South Korea, England and Canada, will be represented in the event. Defending champion Akshay Bhatia, the No. 1 ranked player according to the American Junior Golf Association, is in the field.
Maxwell and Breitenstine will face tremendous competition in what they both consider to be the biggest event they’ve played to this point of their careers.
That competition includes each other.
“We don’t really talk about it too much,” said Breitenstine, a senior this fall who finished tied for 11th at the state tournament last year. “I want to beat him as much as anybody else. It’s like if I had a brother, I wouldn’t cut him any slack.”
Breitenstine paused briefly, then added with a laugh, “Man, I hope he doesn’t say he wants me to win. I’d be disappointed if he said that.”
Moldovan did not disappoint.
“We’ve always been competitive with each other,” he said. “You just strive to play well and be the best player you can be.”
Both Moldovan and Breitenstine made the field on exemptions. Moldovan found out he had received his exemption before the second round of the two-day sectional qualifier at Shady Hollow back in June. He was in the midst of winning the tournament by nine strokes.
Moldovan’s fantastic spring/summer includes three first-place finishes and a second place. In 12 events, he’s finished out of the top 10 once.
The kid knows how to finish. He shot a 4-under 68 to come from behind and win the Division I state title by three strokes last season.
“Honestly, I like to play tournament golf more than just going out to the course with my buddies,” said Moldovan, the first individual boys state champion from the Repository's coverage area since Northwest's Justin Lower in 2006.
Moldovan’s father, John, played at Kent State and is the teaching professional at Ohio Prestwick Country Club. His mother, Leigh (Burdette), was a standout basketball player at the University of Akron. Moldovan hopes to make his college choice this winter. His top five include (in no particular order) Georgia, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State and UNLV.
Breitenstine, a Kent State recruit, comes from athletic genes of a different sort. His father, Stuart, was an All-American gymnast at the University of Iowa.
Breitenstine is ranked 100th nationally by the AJGA (Moldovan is 152nd). Breitenstine’s summer has been highlighted by a tie for sixth at the Memorial Junior in Nashport (Moldovan tied for sixth in the same event) and a tie for eighth at the Western Junior Championship in Illinois (He finished a stroke better than the top-ranked Bhatia there). He won last year at the AJGA Junior at Forest Lake in Michigan.
He and Moldovan both want to win this week, but they also are setting more conservative goals: Make the cut. Get in the top 10. Play solid golf.
“To win an event like this you have to play some of your best golf,” Breitenstine said, “and have some things fall in place.”
And maybe even beat a teammate.
Reach Josh at 330-580-8426
On Twitter: @jweirREP