BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — This is an interesting summer for junior golfers like TJ Barger, who are trying to make up for lost time when golf courses were closed this spring.
“When the quarantine started, I was still practicing,” Barger said. “You’re going to see who has been practicing and who hasn’t.”
The Bloomington High School senior is in the 72-player field at this week’s D.A. Points Junior Open at Pekin Country Club. Last week he finished third at another American Junior Golf Association event in Indiana. The NCAA isn’t allowing college coaches to do in-person recruiting this summer for COVID-19 restrictions.
So coaches can’t see Barger play in person. But they can see his scores.
“After that tournament last week, I had a few colleges email me,” Barger admitted. “It shows you that you have to play well in those tournaments.”
This is likely the most critical summer in Barger’s junior golf career. Nobody knows if the Illinois High School Association will have a golf season this fall, so he’s trying to post great scores in big junior tournaments this summer just for these college recruiters.
“I’ve got to build a resume off this summer,” said Barger. “I’m pretty sure those coaches are looking at these tournaments.”
His resume includes winning a high school state title two years ago in chilly conditions at Weibring Golf Course in Normal. Now he’s hoping to turn up the heat on his recruiting this summer.