AJGA CALLAWAY GOLF JUNIOR ALL-STAR SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP
ChampionsGate Golf Resort, International Course
ChampionsGate, Florida
November 27-30, 2002

LOPEZ SHOOTS 67, COMES FROM FOUR BACK TO TAKE CHAMPIONSHIP
Osborn stayed the course despite the windy conditions to claim victory

CHAMPIONSGATE, Fla. - Lance Lopez of Fresno, Texas, shot a 5-under-par 67 to fight back from a four-stroke deficit at the beginning of the day to take home his first AJGA victory at the AJGA Callaway Golf Junior All-Star Series Championship Saturday. In the Girls Division, Jennifer Osborn, who came into the final round with a six-stroke lead, did what needed to be done during the final round by shooting 74-68-78-220 to close out her first AJGA win as well.

The 54-hole tournament, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, featured 78 boys and girls (ages 13-16) representing 19 states and Canada. To qualify for this season-ending championship, the participants in the Boys Division needed to garner a top-10 finish in a 2002 Junior All-Star event with the Girls Division needing a top-five finish to get an invite.

Lopez (74-73-67-214) left players and spectators shaking their heads as word made its way around ChampionsGate Golf Resort of his 33-34-67. But to win the tournament, Lopez knew he needed a score like this to put him in the running.

"It was a monster out there," the 15-year-old said after his 2-under-par tournament total performance. "Somehow I managed to play through it. I felt really comfortable coming into today. I was making solid contact all week and it just added up after awhile."

His low number was more than impressive on a windy day not prime for scoring. Despite the gusty conditions, the Texas native notched six birdies (Nos. 5, 6, 7, 9, 16 and 18) to only one bogey (No. 2).

"I never gave up and just played hard," he said. "When you are coming from behind, that is really all you can do."

The Boys Division top five included Michael Green of Augusta, Ga., at 216; Bronson Burgoon of The Woodlands, Texas, at 218; Brett Kanda of La Crescenta, Calif., at 221; and Erik Flores of Grass Valley Calif., and Travis Esway of Granite Bay, Calif., tied for fifth at 222.

The Girls Division saw Jennifer Osborn hang on to secure victory during the final round. She was in the tough position of protecting a six-shot lead she built mainly during Friday's second round when she fired a 4-under-par 68.

"My goal was to win and stayed focused," she said after her round. "Every time I come out, I just try to shoot low numbers. I think this will give people a little more respect for my game."

Playing through the teeth of the wind, Osborn, like Lopez, simply found a way. Even though she was not forced to go deep, she struggled to score well during the final round, finishing with a 78, 10 shots higher than her previous day's score.

"I couldn't putt all day," she said of her 35-putt performance. "I did hit a couple of good drives and irons, though. But I got the job done."

Rounding out the Girls Division top three are Jennifer Hong of Windermere, Fla., at 224 and Stefanie Page of The Woodlands, Texas, at 225.

The Callaway Golf Junior All-Star Series was created in 1998 to give younger AJGA members more opportunities to play competitive golf. This collection of events, designed for boys and girls 13-15, was a resounding success in its first year and it expanded to six events in 1999. In 2002, there were six tournaments that featured a Day of Education, conducted by the AJGA and David Leadbetter Golf Academy staff, and two days of stroke play competition.

For more information on the AJGA Callaway Golf Junior All-Star Series Championship, or other AJGA events, please contact AJGA National Headquarters (770) 868-4200.

 
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