WESTFIELD - Just 1.7 miles from his high school, Cranford senior Johnny Bush gladly accepted an invitation this week to play in one of the most prestigious junior tournaments in the country.

Bush shot 21-over-par (79-79-76--234) and missed the cut after Thursday’s third round of the 41st annual American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Polo Golf Junior Classic at the par 71, 7,078-yard layout at Echo Lake Country Club in Westfield.

Players from 18 states and seven countries comprise the 96-player field, featuring 31 Rolex AJGA All-Americans and 65 players who have already committed to college. The Polo Golf Junior Classic is one of two original events started after the inception of the AJGA in 1978.

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Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, many of the best golfers from all levels – junior, college, amateur and professional – have made the Polo Golf Junior Classic part of their schedule over the years. Notable champions include Stewart Cink, Paula Creamer, Heather Farr, Trevor Immelman, Hunter Mahan, Morgan Pressel, Lexi Thompson, and Tiger Woods.

Bush posted back-to-back 79s on Tuesday and Wednesday and improved by three strokes with a 76 on Thursday.

“I didn’t really have much of a game this week. I struggled with irons and also my putting,” said Bush, who was playing in his second straight Polo Junior Classic. “It was tough because it was a great opportunity and I felt confident going in, but just didn’t get anything going.” 

Bush, who helped lead the Cougars to a 15-3 record this season, will take a couple of weeks off before getting back on a course again.

“I have a couple weeks off now, but then a qualifier for the U.S Amateur (ironically at Echo Lake, July 16) and then the Met Junior. I also qualified for the N.J. State Open, which will be played at Montclair July 24-26,” added Bush. 

Less than two months ago, Bush concluded his junior season as a champion, shooting an even-par 72, three shots better junior Andrew Rush of Morris Tech to capture the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 1-2, Group 2 individual championship at the par-72, 6,584-yard Bowling Green Golf Club in Oak Ridge.

AJGA Polo Posts: North Carolina-bound and Lenape graduate Doug Ergood was one of two N.J. boys golfers to make the cut with a 3-over-par (70-72-74--216), and is in a two-way tie for 11th place. NJ.com Player of the Year and Christian Brothers Academy junior Jack Wall, who has committed to South Carolina, is at 7-over-par (73-72-75--220), and is in a 5-way tie for 24th place. Calen Sanderson of Skillman (+15, 75-74-79--228), NJ.com 1st team All-Stater Sean Taylor of Westfield (+28, 76-86-79--241) and Mountainside’s Alex Felitto (+39, 81-83-88--252) all missed the cut.