LO OUTLASTS LEE IN SUDDEN DEATH PLAYOFF TO WIN HANMI BANK JUNIOR OPEN
Lee cruises to 4-stroke victory in Girls Division at Black Gold Golf Club
YORBA LINDA, Calif. — Tom Lo of Los Angeles, made par on the second hole of the sudden death playoff against James Lee of La Habra, Calif., to capture the Boys Division title. Both Lo and Lee finished their week with a tournament total of 208, forcing the playoff. In the Girls Division, Jennie Lee of Huntington Beach, Calif., put the finishing touches on her sixth career AJGA victory, finishing the tournament with a score of 70-73-69 — 212, besting the field by 4 strokes.
The Hanmi Bank Junior Open, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, featured 64 boys and 21 girls — ages 12-18 — from five states, (76 from California). The event was staged on the par-72, 6,697-yard Black Gold Golf Club (Girls Division played at 6,021).
Entering the day, Lo was one shot behind the leaders. He struggled early on, making bogey on his first two holes, finishing the front nine 1-over-par. He then caught fire on the back nine, going 5-under on his final seven holes.
It was his birdie on the 180-yard, par-3 No. 16 that catapulted Lo, 70-70-68, into position for his final run.
“I was 2-under heading to No. 16, and thought I would end up somewhere in the top-5,” recalled Lo. “But I made my birdie putt on 16 and it gave me confidence to win.”
James Lee, 72-69-67, came into the day two strokes off the pace. He emerged from the pack, firing a tournament low 67 forcing the playoff. He had no intention of stopping there. Both boys headed back to the 535-yard, par-5 No. 18, in front of a large crowd of spectators.
Lee struggled off the tee on the first playoff hole, hitting into thick brush, while Lo was in the fairway. Lo reached the green in three shots, and two-putted for par. Lee made it to the green in four, with 40-feet left to the hole. Lee sank the incredible par-putt to extend the playoff to a second hole.
Lo couldn't believe Lee's putt.
“I thought that maybe there was a chance he could make it,” Lo said. “But I thought there was a better chance he would miss.”
Lee could not match Lo on the second playoff hole. Again in trouble off the tee of No. 18, Lee finished with a double bogey, while Lo sealed the win with par.
Finishing in third, Chris Cho of San Diego, with a tournament total of 209. Tied for third was Louis Amira of Valencia, Calif., Bo DeHuff of Coto de Caza, Calif., and Evan Derian of Manhattan Beach, Calif., with totals of 212.
Jennie Lee headed into the final round on Thursday with a five-stroke lead, finishing with her best round of the tournament at 3-under-par 69. Her win wasn't without it's share of excitement. On the first hole of the day, Lee made a bogey on the par-4, 400-yard No. 1. Won Joo Choi of Murrieta, Calif., seized the opportunity to put pressure on Lee. Choi fired the lowest round of the tournament for the Girls Division, a 4-under-par 68 to make Lee feel the heat.
“I felt the pressure the first few holes,” Lee said. “I eventually relaxed out there and played steady.”
Choi finished runner-up, with a tournament total of 216. Glory Yang, also of Murietta, Calif., took third at 221.
18-year-old Lee, a Rolex Junior All-American selection the past three years, was playing in her final AJGA open event. She will take her game to Duke University where she will play for the Blue Devils.
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. The largest Association of its kind, the AJGA has a junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch, USA, which enters its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
For more information about the Hanmi Bank Junior Open, contact AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.