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Top junior golfers from Carolinas set sights on Creed Invitational
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CHS SOPHOMORE EVAN YOUNGHANS will be one of three Bulldogs and five Kershaw County golfers playing in this weekend’s seventh annual Creed Invitational at the Camden Country Club. - photo by Tom Didato/C-I

It did not take long for the Creed Junior Boys’ Invitational to become a must-stop event on the Carolinas Golf Association’s yearly calendar.

The seventh annual tournament, which honors the memory and legacy of the late Jimmy Creed, will be played over the Camden Country Club on Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26.

Creed passed away in October of 2012 and was one of the most popular and well-thought of members at the Camden Country Club.  A former CCC junior champion, during his playing days Creed advanced to the semifinals of the CGA’s Four-Ball championship held annually in Camden. 

Proceeds from this weekend’s tournament go to a scholarship foundation to help children in Kershaw County.  

“He loved kids and was very supportive of the junior golfers at the club,” said Camden CC head professional Matt McCarley of Creed’s impact on golf in his hometown. “Jimmy was always kind of a reserved person, but I think he would get a big kick out of seeing all these kids playing at the Camden Country Club.”

The event is a 36-hole stroke play tournament for 83 junior boy golfers between the ages of 13 through 18 who are still in high school. There will be divisions for players ages 13-14, 15-16 and 17-18. Trophies will be awarded to the overall boys’ champion and the top three places in each division.

The first 18 holes will be played following lunch on Saturday with second round play teeing off Sunday at 8 a.m.

Once again, the tournament has attracted a strong field from the Carolinas which will take to the 6,455-yard Donald Ross-designed course. There will be more players coming to the Knights Hill Rd. facility from North Carolina than from the Palmetto State, McCarley said, while adding the junior golf hotbed of Charlotte and the surrounding area make up a good chunk of the qualified golfers.

Since its inception, the Creed Invitational has been a hit with players. “According to Carolinas Golf Association officials,” McCarley said, “this tournament has turned into being the biggest junior tournament they hold in South Carolina. They just had a qualifier for this tournament in Lancaster which was capped at 90 players. That filled up fast and they had a waiting list of about 20 players, including some boys from here who could not get in.”

Last year, Spencer Oxendine won the Creed Invitational with a tournament-record, 5-under par 135. The North Carolina State commit shot a 68 on Saturday before lowering that by a stroke with a 67 in Sunday’s final round. The inaugural tournament, played in 2013, was won by current Auburn University senior and All-SEC player Trace Crowe from Bluffton.

Five players from Kershaw County will tee it up this weekend including newly crowned South Carolina High School League AAA state individual champion Wills Kelly. The Camden High sophomore won last week’s 36-hole event at the Camden Country Club with a 74-67---141 score. Bulldog teammates David Bishop and Evan Younghans, who both helped CHS to a fourth-place finish in the tourney, are also in the Creed Invitational field as are Lugoff-Elgin teammates Zach Young and Elliott Pope.

McCarley said Kelly and the entire field will be given a stern test this weekend on a Camden Country Club course which will play longer and have tougher pin placements.

“It will be interesting to see how Wills bounces back,” said McCarley, who is also the head golf coach at Camden High School. “The golf course will be set up different this weekend. The course will play a little longer and the holes will be tougher due to the quality of the field and how deep it is.

“It will be interesting to see how Wills handles the mental part of the game after he has been on a high after winning the state individual championship.”

McCarley said testing their skills against a strong field and a difficult course for two days is what young players, especially those from his team, need to take their respective game to the next level.

“The more our boys play in tournaments, the better they are going to be. We told that to them in our exit interviews at the end of our season,” he said. “Playing in one of the toughest junior golf tournaments in North Carolina and South Carolina is going to help them improve and will help them know how to handle tough situations.”

In addition to the course itself and the prestige of winning this event, junior players enjoy their stay at the Creed Invitational thanks in large part to the hospitality shown to them by the CGA, the Camden Country Club and its members not to mention from the Creed family.

“Jimmy’s son, D.J. (a former CHS golfer who came up through the CCC’s junior golf ranks) really enjoys coming out and watching the tournament,” McCarley said. “The entire Creed family enjoys being out here for it. We feel really good about what we are doing up here for this event.”