Kesterson Outduels Pack, Wins FootJoy Invitational by One
Plano, Texas, native earns exemption into PGA TOUR's Wyndham Championship
GREENSBORO, N.C. — In a constant, back and forth battle where six players shared the lead at one point to earn an exemption into the PGA TOUR's Wyndham Championship, Tanner Kesterson of Plano, Texas, came out on top and won the FootJoy Invitational Friday at 9-under-par 271.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the FootJoy Invitational was a 72-hole stroke play event held at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. The 98-player field featured golfers from 26 states, Chile, Japan and Mexico. The field included 25 players who have signed National Letters of Intent as well as 23 Rolex Junior All-Americans. Home of the PGA TOUR's Wyndham Championship, the par-70 course was played at 7,116 yards. Past champions of the event include Justin Thomas, Brian Harman, Daniel Woltman, Andrew Yun and Peter Uihlein.
Leading after the second round, Kesterson kept the top spot within reach and was tied for second with Anthony Paolucci of Del Mar, Calif. going into the final round.
Kesterson and defending champion Justin Thomas of Goshen, Ky., were neck and neck on the par-4 18th, tied at 9-under-par 271.
“Coming up No.18, my main goal was to be relaxed,” Kesterson said. “I had no clue where I was. I knew I had to be within a shot though.”
The gallery of more than 100 spectators roared as Kesterson hit his second shot just above the flagstick, while Thomas' second shot landed just short of the green, leading him to a bogey and an 8-under-par 272 finish.
Paolucci, who tied for second in last year's invitational, showed Kesterson some competition late in the day with a birdie on No. 17 to take the lead by one. However, Paolucci soon lost the lead after he hooked his tee shot into the trees, leading to a double-bogey on No. 18 and a tie for second with Thomas.
Kesterson, currently ranked No. 38 in the Polo Golf Rankings, will play in the Wyndham Championship August 16-22.
“It's an honor to be able to play in that,” Kesterson said. “I'm just going to go in there for the experience and it's going to be great. The goal is to learn how to play the mental part of that and be more relaxed and confident out there.”
Kesterson won his first AJGA event last year at the Stars of Texas Junior presented by Party City.
“My dream a year ago was to win an AJGA (tournament) and I got that,” Kesterson said. “My other dream was to win an Invitational. Finally that happened, so I feel very pumped.”
Jeffrey Kang of Fullerton, Calif., placed fourth at 6-under-par 274 and Shun Yat Hak of Lake Mary, Fla., took fifth at 5-under-par 275. Third-round leader Denny McCarthy of Burtonsville, Md., finished sixth at 4-under-par 276.
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The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and
development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.