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David Leadbetter's new junior tour up for Orlando launch

David Leadbetter  will be the first to acknowledge there are plenty of outlets for junior golfers to test themselves against their peers. But with 200 kids in his academy alone, he sees demand for top-level competition outpacing supply.

"There are a lot of good tours," said the man who shaped the swings of Ernie Els, Nick Faldo and Michelle Wie. "But this is something I've had in mind for years. We want to provide more great competition."

That's the premise of the IMG Academy Leadbetter golf program Junior Golf Tour, set to debut this weekend at Orlando's Waldorf Astoria Golf Club. The schedule features 20 events across the country, including stops in Boca Raton and Naples.

IMG Academy, which houses a Leadbetter branch on its Bradenton campus, will operate the venture.

The American Junior Golf Association is widely acknowledged as the nation's top proving ground. But a limit of five events, plus invitationals, often leaves top kids — from the IMG campus and elsewhere — seeking other outlets.

"Every kid wants to get on the AJGA," Leadbetter said, "but they need exposure."

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