DELIO FINISHES 10-UNDER-PAR 206 TO WIN FIRST AJGA TOURNAMENT
Defending Champion Karle rallies in final round to claim victory
SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. Nick Delio of Valencia, Calif., shot 5-under-par 67 for the second consecutive day and a tournament total of 206 to claim the PING Phoenix Junior Boys Division title and receive his first AJGA win. Taylore Karle of Scottsdale, Ariz., carded a 4-under-par 68 for the day and a 206 tournament total to win the Girls Division by one stroke.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the PING Phoenix Junior was played on Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club's par-72 Prospector Course. The 54-hole event featured 63 boys and 19 girls, ages 12-18, from 17 states and two countries.
Beaming from ear to ear, Delio sat in the scoring tent and watched as his winning score was confirmed. After coming in a tie for second at this summer's Hanmi Bank Junior Open, the 16-year-old was itching for his first AJGA win. Delio said he has made several improvements since July, which gave him the confidence he needed coming into this week's tournament.
I just putted a lot better and kept the ball in play, he said. It was a lot of fun out there. All the hard work is paying off.
Delio shot 4-under-par 32 on the front nine and by the end of his round had rattled off seven birdies. When stepping onto the 553 yard par-5 No. 18, Delio boldly decided to go for the green in two, which resulted in his final birdie for the day. Although Delio held a one-stroke lead from No.14 on, he said he focused less on his score and more on the hole in front of him.
I didn't want to get over-confident because it's not that easy of a course, he said. It's unbelievable that I won, I can't believe it.
Niko Bain of Glendale, Ariz., finished second with a 71-65-72208 tournament total. In third place, shooting 69-67-73209, was Jed Dirksen of Hampton, Iowa. Nicholas Losole III of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Bennett Klaus of Edmond, Okla., shot matching 210s to tie for fourth.
In the Girls Division, Karle made her move early, making birdie on No. 1 while second-round leader Esther Choe of Scottsdale, Ariz., made bogey. After taking the lead early, Karle had met her first goal of the day, and gained the momentum she held with her throughout the day. The two matched each other throughout the round, but eventually Karle's seven birdies and 4-under-par 68 took the win.
It was just a grind all day, she said. I kept telling myself to stay in the present and not look ahead.
Dropping 27 putts and hitting 13 greens, Karle was extremely focused throughout the round. After placing in a tie for 18th at the Thunderbird International Junior and winning the AJGA Craig Ranch Junior, Karle has experienced both ups-and-downs this season, but the 17-year-old says she has only taken good from her summer.
I think I just know more about myself now, she said, referring to one of Ben Hogan's quotes--that he learned more when he lost than when he won. That's what I'm going through.
Choe, of Scottsdale, Ariz., shot a 1-under-par 7l for a 207 tournament total, coming in second. Rachel Morris of Carlsbad, Calif., shot 72-71-74217 for third place.
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 counties.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which is in 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, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr, Candie Kung and Paula Creamer.
For more information on the PING Phoenix Junior, or any other tournament, contact AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200 or visit the AJGA Web site at ajga.org.