Charleston’s only hope of bringing home the coveted 75th annual USGA Junior Amateur Championship at Daniel Island Club this July 24-29 rests squarely on the shoulders of 19-year-old Rowan Sullivan. As the only local player in the 264-man field, he’s got the home field advantage and that may be just enough to give him an edge over the stiff worldwide competition.
On June 5, Sullivan made the cut at the local qualifier at Beresford Creek Course by shooting a 1-under 71. His scorecard didn’t show the putt that lipped in on the 18th hole to secure him a spot in the illustrious tournament.
Sullivan, a Porter-Gaud School graduate, was the Class AAA individual state champion in 2022, the 2021 South Carolina Junior Amateur champion and 2021 South Carolina Junior Player of the Year. He was the No. 2-ranked player in the Palmetto State at the peak of his high school career.
It marks Sullivan’s second appearance in the tournament after qualifying in 2021 at the Country Club of North Carolina. This time, he will be sleeping in his childhood bed and getting hometown support from family and friends.
“I know the course well, I’ve been able to play it many times with friends that are also members,” Sullivan said. “… I think it’s going to be an advantage that my game won’t have to travel so I’ll have a headstart on that.”
This year’s tournament marks the first time it’s ever been played in Charleston and the fourth time in the Palmetto State. Daniel Island’s Ralston Creek Course from the tips is 7,332 yards, making it the fourth longest course in the championship’s history.
“It’s a big boy course,” said USGA Junior Amateur Championship Director Rob Doone, who noted that the speed and firmness of the greens are right on par with other professional courses.
The course sets up nicely for Sullivan, whose greatest asset is his length off the tee. He is also accustomed to playing in windy conditions, which bodes well for handling the Lowcountry’s unpredictable weather.
Sullivan will attend Vanderbilt University this fall and plans to study economics while playing for the Commodores, who are currently the top-ranked program in men’s college golf.
Sullivan noted that he has aspirations of playing on the PGA Tour if the ball continues to roll his way. A victory in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and an exemption into the 2024 U.S. Open would certainly be a step in the right direction.
“I feel like going to Vanderbilt is a great stepping stone towards that dream,” Sullivan said. “I’m really committed, I’m ready to give it my all and my dream is to play professional.”
Admission to the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship is free and open to the public. Coverage of the tournament’s semifinals and championship match will be televised on Golf Channel.
By Zach Giroux