GRANITEVILLE — Zachary Olsen faces a mixed bag of emotions as he enters the third annual Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club.
The 18-year-old Olsen returns looking to defend his title. He said he has plenty of confidence in his game. On the flip side, he’s been badgered by the same question.
“You can literally picture yourself winning,” Olsen said. “But everybody is also asking if I’m going to repeat. So it’s a double-edged sword.”
Olsen tees off at 10:20 this morning in the opening round of the 54-hole tournament. At the tournament’s conclusion, the champion will receive the coveted gold jacket.
The 54-player field features the No. 1-ranked player in the American Junior Golf Association in Robby Shelton, of Wilmer, Ala.
Shelton, 17, finished tied for second in the 2012 Junior Invitational.
Brad Dalke, of McKinney, Texas, is looking to win his first Junior Invitational. Ranked second in the AJGA, Dalke tied for 16th in last year’s Junior Invitational before winning the AJGA’s HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods in February.
“Last year, I wasn’t very confident with my game and I ended up doing all right,” Dalke said. “This year, I’m doing everything pretty well coming into this week. I’m excited to see what this weekend holds.”
The field features only one local player in Augusta’s Greyson Sigg. The Richmond Academy senior is looking to become the second University of Georgia signee to win the Junior Invitational, two years after Nicholas Reach won the inaugural event.
Olsen, of Cordova, Tenn., said he’s battle-tested as he enters seeking to repeat. The Oklahoma State signee has already played four tournaments this year – three of them amateur events – posting a tie for third at the Terra Cotta Invitational earlier this month.
Last year, Olsen opened with consecutive rounds of 68 before closing with 73, cruising to a three-shot victory.