LESSING'S AJGA CLASSIC
The Concord Resort & Golf Club, The Monster Course
Kiamesha Lake, New York
August 12-15, 2002
OCCI WINS IN FIRST-EVER AJGA EVENT BY ONE-STROKE Bickerton tames The Monster, wins by six-strokes
KIAMESHA LAKE, N.Y. -- Two first-time winners seized
their respective division crowns at the Lessing's AJGA Classic
Thursday. Jason Occi of Cranford, N.J., carded a 223 to edge
two others by one stroke in the Boys Division, while Ashley
Bickerton of Ottawa shot 227 in cruising to a six-shot victory
in the Girls Division.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Lessing's
AJGA Classic featured 79 boys and 21 girls representing 19
states and Canada, including 35 players from the state of
New York. The tournament was held on the par-72 Monster Course
at The Concord Resort & Golf Club, spread over 6,953 yards
for boys and 5,968 yards for girls.
In the highly competitive Boys Division, the 16-year-old Occi
clinched the crown, over Conner Doherty of Woodstock, Vt.,
and Joe April of Sewell, N.J., with a dramatic birdie putt
on Hole No. 18.
"The whole day was pressure packed," Occi said.
"We were having fun all day and all I tried to do was
stay calm and play safe."
The key to Occi's win, in his first AJGA tournament, was his
red-hot putter and mental strength. During the tournament
Occi recorded only one 3-putt, which happened to be a 70-foot
"The most important parts of my golf this week were my
putter and my head," Occi said. "It was tough out
there and you had to be smart all day. Fortunately I made
a lot of good decisions."
In winning his first AJGA tournament, Occi is anticipating
additional challenges to his golf game.
"This win means a lot to me," Occi said. "I
have two years of high school left and hopefully I can play
in a lot more AJGA tournaments."
Tied for second at 224 were Conner Doherty and Joe April.
New York native Brent Herlihy of Glens Falls finished alone
at 225 to place fourth. In a three-way tie for fifth at 227
were Chris Flatley of Darien, Conn., Hunter Watts of Keswick,
Va., and Bill McCrary of Houston.
In a two-way tie for eighth at 228 were Marco Poccia of Gansevoort,
N.Y., and Jarred Texter of Millersville, Pa. The top-10 was
rounded out by a three-way tie for 10th with Raman Luthra
of Buffalo, N.Y., KJ Camera of Manchester, Conn., and James
Granello of Rumson, N.J.
Heading into the final round with a five shot lead over the
Girls Division, a confident Bickerton focused on minimizing
"I struggled at the start and I missed a lot of shots,"
Bickerton said. "But I did what I had to do and I finished
After a frustrating start to her morning, Bickerton's first
positive run came at Hole Nos. 7, 8 and 9, where she scored
par, birdie, par.
"That was huge for me," Bickerton said. "I
made key shots when I needed to make key shots."
The 17-year-old Bickerton's capping moment came at the par-5,
16th , where she missed a drive into the woods. From there
she punched out to set herself up for a 220-yard shot uphill
and into the wind.
"I hit a 3-wood and absolutely smoked it to about four
feet," Bickerton said. "At that point I was five
up and wasn't making any putts. Then I hit one into the woods
and anything can happen in there."
With her first career AJGA win under her belt, Bickerton looks
forward to playing in additional tournaments and showcasing
her competitive drive.
"I want to play to my potential and playing against the
best competition will bring that out," Bickerton said.
Megan Grehan of Mamaroneck, N.Y., finished in second place
at 233. Tiffany Tavee of Gilbert, Ariz., finished in third
place at 234.
For more information on the Lessing's AJGA Classic or any
other AJGA event, please contact our national headquarters
at (877) 373-2542.
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