BRADY CHARGES PAST COMPETITION, SHOOTING 3-UNDER-PAR 69 TO MEDAL IN BOYS DIVISION
Watkins fires 2-over-par 74 to top Girls Division by eight strokes
SAN ANTONIO — Nicholas Brady of Los Alamos, N.M., shined Sunday in the Boys Division at the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout Srixon Qualifier, carding a front nine 35 and back nine 34 for a combined total of 3-under-par 69. In the Girls Division, Chelsey Watkins of Sealy, Texas, scorched the field on an already hot and humid day by clinching an eight stroke lead and medaling after shooting a 2-over-par 74.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout Srixon Qualifier was held at Northern Hills Golf Club. The par-72 course was set up at 6,626 yards for the Boys Division and 5,937 yards for the Girls Division. The tournament field consisted of 84 boys and 12 girls, ages 12-18. Of the 96 player field, 81 competitors hailed from Texas, and eight additional states were represented.
Brady, who most recently tied for fourth place at the Dodge/Bob Estes Abilene Junior July 4-7, in Abilene, Texas, birdied five holes and eagled No. 17 en route to medaling in the qualifier. Brady's plan for the round was to stay consistent and focus solely on his own game, also recognizing that he had to shoot under par to qualify. Also contributing to his low-round was his fade, which he said he relies on hole after hole.
“I love hitting a fade,” said Brady. “You can control it and are allowed to get so much air and still get the shot off.”
Nine additional boys also qualified for the tournament. Three boys, Stephen Carney of Tulsa, Okla., Brandon Burke of Houston, and Garrett Mann of Helotes, Texas, fired 1-under-par 71s to tie for second. Standing in fifth place with a score of even-par 72, was Brian Benshoof of McKinney, Texas. Both residing in Texas and tying for sixth place from San Antonio and Allen, respectively, Mark Pollak and Drew Haka, carded 1-over-par 73s. In 10th place, Jake Fuljenz of Beaumont, Texas, and Jake Powell of Coppell, Texas, shared the spot after shooting 74s. Three boys shot 75, which led to a playoff in which Grant Hume of Broken Arrow, Texas, won, earning the final spot into the field.
Two additional boys, Rohan Verma of Kingwood, Texas and Cameron Fanning of Houston, shot scores of 73, which would have earned them positions in the tournament, had they not chosen to add one tournament exemption, using the AJGA Option Policy.
Fifteen-year-old Watkins, who is playing in her first-ever AJGA event, started off the qualifier on a positive note, eagling No. 17, the first hole of the day. Excited to have medaled, Watkins is thrilled to play against more AJGA competition, not only because of the longer courses, better competition and quicker rounds, but because her older sister Ashley is also playing in the tournament. As for the qualifier round, Watkins credits her low-round to her putting game and more practice overall.
“My putting and chipping went well today,” said Watkins. “When my iron shots weren't good, my putting made up for it; but overall, I've just been playing well lately. I've been practicing a lot and it's been paying off.”
A 2009 graduate, Jacy Benites of Austin, Texas, shot a front nine 39 and back nine 44 to total 83 and earn a spot in the tournament. Also graduating in 2009, Shelby Hardy of San Saba, Texas, shot 85 to qualify, while Jessica Borth of Windcrest, Texas, shot an 86 to qualify.
Two additional girls, Stephanie Hu of Cerritos, Calif., and Sarah Kothny of Kingwood, Texas, shot 82 and 83, respectively, but chose to opt out of the tournament.
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.
SRIXON Sports USA, Inc., based in Norcross, Ga., has been distributing premium golf balls and equipment in the U.S. since 1997 and is a subsidiary of SRI Sports. SRI Sports is one of the world's leading patent holders in golf ball technology and manufactures several golf balls played in the United States. SRI Sports-made balls have won 73 PGA TOUR events since 1989, including seven majors. For more information about SRIXON, please visit srixon.com.
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.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Candie Kung, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer.
Tee times for the first round will run from 7 a.m. — 12:51 p.m. off the No. 1 tee at Oak Hills Country Club on Tuesday. For more information on the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout, please call AJGA tournament headquarters at (210) 349-5151, or visit ajga.org.