PARKERSBURG -Nick Huggins' absence from Thursday's Tour Championship at The Greenbrier might carry Madison's Harry Howell over the top and clinch a possible age division championship on the Top Flite Junior Tour.
Huggins scored 119.3 points during the regular season and currently sits in second place behind Howell (122.55 points) in the State Farm Player of the Year standings, but the Marietta High School golfer opted to bypass the final stop in order to compete in an American Junior Golf Association-sanctioned event in South Bend, Ind. Huggins is a former champion after claiming the 13-14 age category two years ago.
With Huggins out of the picture this week, the only individual within range of catching Howell is Red House's George Hamrick at 103.17. A total of 25 points are awarded to the outright winner in each age category.
The field for the four age divisions (12-under, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18) features 90 golfers. An 8:30 a.m. shotgun start follows a brief rules meeting.
The 17-18 age division figures to come down to the wire. Only 5.67 points separate frontrunner Clark Priddy of Nitro from his closest competitor in Brian Anania of Hurricane.
Priddy is attempting to successfully defend his title, while Anania is a former champ on the Tour after capturing the 13-14 crown three years ago.
Anania's recent surge included two wins in the final five stops. He tied Priddy for medalist honors in the last regular-season stop at Riverside Golf Club last Wednesday.
By claiming medalist honors at Riverside, Charleston's Trent McPherson locked up the title in the 13-14 age group. McPherson piled up 175 points during the regular season compared to Josh Bumgarner of Winfield, who resides in second place with 145 points.
The only local golfer within shouting distance is Marietta's Jared Hammons, who has scored 99.5 points and will play in the final foursome at The Greenbrier.
Looking to close out the title in the 12-under division is Cole Hand of Wheeling, who scored 164.5 points thanks to four victories during the regular season. The only individual still holding out hope of catching Hand is Morgantown's Cale Wheeler with 146.5 points.