LONG CONVINCINGLY CLAIMS TITLE IN JOHN DEERE CLASSIC JUNIOR OPEN
Yang hangs on to claim second career AJGA championship
LONG GROVE, Iowa. — Jace Long managed to shoot an even-par 72 Thursday despite blustery wind conditions to claim the top spot in the Boys Division at the John Deere Classic Junior Open. Earlier in the day, Julie Yang of Phoenix, triumphed in the Girls Division shooting a 5-over-par 77 while staving off two hard-charging competitors.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the John Deere Classic Junior Open was a 54-hole stroke-play event held at the Glynns Creek Golf Course. The 97-player field featured players from 20 states and China. The Boys Division played the par-72 course at 6,955 while the Girls Division is playing at 6,181.
The conditions at Glynns Creek were less than ideal, yet Long, 18, of Dixon, Mo., was able to stay consistent throughout the tournament. His three-day total of 9-under-par 207 was good enough to convincingly win the Boys Division by 10 strokes. On Thursday, Long was 2-over-par until No. 9, where he managed his first birdie of the day and then proceeded to slam the door shut on the competition.
“That hole definitely gave me momentum to finish strong,” Long said. “After that hole, I birdied Nos. 10, 12, and 15. That was the turning-point in my round.”
Finishing behind Long tied for second were Josh Reinerston of Gibbon, Neb., and Cody Kent of Castle Rock, Colo, who both shot a 1-over-par 217. In fourth was Jordan McLaurin of Ironton, Mo., with a three-day total of 2-over-par 218. Rounding out the top five were Will Nixon of Jefferson City, Mo., and Daniel Stringfellow of Roselle, Ill., each shooting a tournament total of 3-over-par 219.
In the Girls Division, Yang, 12, set the pace all week, and her three-day total of 6-over-par 222 was good enough to win the Girls Division by four strokes. Her accurate driver was critical in helping make the course shorter, and her precise chipping put her close to the flagstick consistently. Yang had a promising beginning to her final round, carding birdies on two of her first three holes. But just like for the other players, the swirling winds came into effect and made it extremely difficult to score low.
“I had to try not to think about the wind, because it can really distract you,” Yang said. “I had to adjust my putting and club selection, but in the end it worked out.”
Finishing tied for second behind Yang were Gianna DiGrazia, 16, of Addison, Ill., and Valentina Fontaine, 16, of Hilton Head Island, S.C, both of whom recorded a tournament total of 10-over-par 226. Fonataine carded a final-round low of 3-over-par 75 for the Girls Division, and the second place finish was the highest of her AJGA career.
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 AJGA, the largest Association of its kind, has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 25 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 is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
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 Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
For more information on the John Deere Classic Junior Open, please contact National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.