The Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Awards recognize the achievements of junior golfers around the world. Young athletes who distinguish themselves with high level of junior tournament play as well as excellence in academics, a commitment to community service and exceptional character are selected each year.
Byron Nelson, a revered philanthropist, is remembered for more than his incredible golf game. Nelson is known and remembered as a role model with outstanding character and integrity. As a professional golfer, Byron Nelson attained 52 professional victories, five major championships, and even an unprecedented 11 wins in a row (75 years later he still holds this record!). Nelson used his name and legacy to dedicate himself to not only the children and families of Momentous Institute, but also young players, offering them advice on the game of golf, humility, and good sportsmanship. Byron Nelson led by example through demonstrating an incredible golf game and even more incredible morals.
Each year, the Byron Nelson International Junior Gold Awards chooses to highlight junior golfers who embody the same values of integrity and sportsmanship that Byron Nelson upheld in his own life. Past recipients have gone on to win The Masters, U.S. Opens, British Opens, PGA TOUR events, European Tour events, NCAA National Championships, and USGA Junior Amateur Championships.
This year David Ford, Gordon Sargent, Jackson Van Paris, Kelly Chinn, and Rose Zhang are the 2021 Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Award recipients. This year is especially noteworthy as Zhang makes history as the first female to ever receive the award! Read along as we take a brief look at each of this year’s outstanding recipients!
Kelly Chinn resides in Great Falls, Virginia and will attend Duke University in Fall 2021. He is currently ranked 3rd in AJGA rankings. His achievements include champion of the 2020 AJGA Ping Invitational, 2020 Middle Atlantic Amateur, 2020 VSGA Junior Stroke Play Championship (where he set a new scoring record by 8 strokes), and runner-up of the 2020 AJGA Junior Players Championship. He was the 2020 Rolex Junior Player of the Year, 2020 Virginia State Golf Association Junior Boys Player of the Year, 2020 Rolex First Team All-American, and 2019 Rolex Honorable Mention All-American.
In addition to his impressive game, Chinn raised $5,000 through a golf instruction fundraising event for children and parents alike through Great Falls Friends & Neighbors. In addition, Chinn volunteered through AJGA Leadership Links to support the Salute Military Gold Association as they pursue their mission to provide golf programs and experiences to post-9/11 wounded veterans.
David Ford is from Peachtree Corners, Georgia and plans to attend University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill next fall. His incredible golf achievements include: ranked #1 in AJGA rankings, and his achievements include wins at the 2019 AJGA Vaughn Taylor champion, 2020 AJGA Invitational at Sedgefield, 2020 AJGA Junior Players Invitational, 2020 Bobby Chapman, 2020 AAC Men’s Club, 2020 AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions, 2nd place at 2021 AJGA Simplify Boys Championship and 2020 AJGA First Team Junior All American. Ford does his part for the community by raising funds for various charities, he specifically will co-host the 2021 AJGA Georgia Cup which benefits multiple charities through its fundraising.
Gordon Sargent, graduates in May from his high school in Birmingham, Alabama and will attend Vanderbilt University. He is ranked #4 in AJGA rankings, and his achievements include wins at the 2020 Alabama State Amateur, 2019 Alabama State Junior Championship, third place in the 2021 AJGA Simplify Championship, second place in the 2020 AJGA Ping Invitational, and T2 at 2020 Bobby Chapman, 2020 North and South Amateur, and the 2019 USGA Junior Championship. He also has two AJGA victories. He is a three-time Rolex Junior All-American, recipient of the 2020 Paul S. Simon Character Award at the Sage Valley Invitational, 2020 Alabama Men’s Player of the Year, and 2020/2019 Alabama Junior Player of the Year.
Sargent, very similar to Byron Nelson himself, has partaken in some amazing philanthropic services. In 2018, 2019, ands 2020, Sargent chaired the Alabama Cup, a youth-organized golf tournament that raises funds for the AJGA Ave Grand and local charities. Over the past three years, the Alabama Cup has raised over $160,000. In addition, Sargent is involved in his church youth group and also volunteers with multiple local community organizations.
JACKOSN VAN PARIS
Jackson Van Paris is from Pinehurst, North Carolina and will continue his education in the south at Vanderbilt University in Fall 2021. He is ranked #2 in AJGA rankings, and his achievements include wins at the 2020 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, 2019 AJGA Simplify Boys Championship, 2018 Justin Rose Invitational, 2021 AJGA Simplify Boys Championship, and reached the round of 32 in the 2018 U.S. Amateur Championship. He was the only 14-year-old ever to win a match in the history of the U.S. Amateur other than Bobby Jones in 1916 at Merion. He won the individual title and led the U.S. team to victory at the 2017 Evian Junior Cup Team in Evian, France and was a 2018, 2019, 2020 Wyndham Cup Team Member. He was a 2019 Jr. Presidents Cup Team Member (Royal Melbourne, Australia) and 4-time Rolex Junior All American, with a 2017 Honorable Mention, 2018 Second Team, 2019 First Team, and 2020 First Team.
Van Paris hosted the Carolina Cup in 2017-2020 during which they raised $250,000 to benefit three charities. In 2020, Van Paris was recognized by the AJGA and received The Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award (one of the highest honors for charitable activities). His own peers and the AJGA staff selected him to be the 2020 AJGA Boys Player Representative.
Irvine, California native, Rose Zhang is the first female recipient of the Byron Nelson International Golf Awards. Zhang will be staying in her home state as she attends Stanford University in Fall 2021. Zhang is currently #1 in the AJGA for girls and #1 ranked amateur in women’s golf. She has participated in and won multiple tournaments such as: The 2020 Rolex Girls, 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur, 2018 & 2020 PING Invitational, and the 2019 & 2020 Rolex Tournament of Champions. In addition, She was named the 2019 & 2020 Rolex Junior Player of the Year and received the 2020 McCormack Medal.
Zhang was chosen to receive this special award for more than just her impressive golf game. Zhang volunteered for the ANA Junior Inspiration for two years and served as an officer for Make-A-Wish at Pacific Academy, her high school. Zhang’s efforts to make money for terminally ill children has not gone unnoticed. Along with her golf skills and philanthropic practices, Zhang is also a noteworthy student; she serves as a member of Student Ambassadors at her high school and upholds her own part in keeping the Earth and it’s beaches clean by volunteering at Coast Keepers. What a well-deserving young woman!
These five recipients show clear integrity in their impressive golf game, but more importantly in their own philanthropic efforts. These young adults know and demonstrate the importance of sportsmanship, helping those in need, and showing humility. An awards ceremony will be held on-site the week of the AT&T Byron Nelson. 2021 Byron Nelson International golf Awards Committee Chair, Andrew Woodward states, “The five recipients of the 2021 Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Awards embody the same values of integrity and sportsmanship that Mr. Nelson upheld in his own life”. Woodward believes, “These young athletes have navigated the uncertainty and challenges of the pandemic with grace and have given back to their communities at a time when it was needed most.”. How amazing to see five incredible young adults carry on the legacy of our beloved, Byron Nelson. Congrats to the recipients- I know we can’t wait to celebrate your amazing achievements at the tournament!