BALIT STORMS BACK TO EARN VICTORY IN HARBOR SPRINGS
Amazing Grace produces fireworks at Boyne Highlands Resort - Moor Course
HARBOR SPRINGS, Mich. - Zachary Balit of Bradenton, Fla., overcame a four-shot final-round deficit and ran away with the Coca-Cola Junior Championship at Boyne Highlands after firing a tournament-low round of 4-under-par 68 Friday. In the Girls Division, Grace Na of Oakland, Calif., was able to hold off a hard-charging Madison Pressel of Boca Raton, Fla., on the back nine to lock up the first victory of her promising AJGA career.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Coca-Cola Junior Championship at Boyne Highlands was a 54-hole stroke play event held at the Boyne Highlands Resort — Moor Course. The 144-player field consisted of 102 boys and 42 girls, ages 12-18, from 20 states, Canada and Thailand. The Boys Division played the par-72 course at 6,850 yards while the Girls Division was played at 6,104 yards.
Balit, who attends the Missing Link Academy in Bradenton, had an auspicious start to his final round after sandwiching two birdies around two pars to start the afternoon. After ten holes, Balit had caught up to previous leader Zachery Sobel of Clearwater Beach, Fla., and then passed him for good on No. 11. After a scintillating eagle on the par-5 No. 14, Balit put the rest of the Boys Division in his rearview mirror, going on to win the tournament by a margin of four strokes. His tournament total of 4-under-par 210 was the only round under par for the event. Even though he went in to the day with a significant deficit, Balit knew that he could come back.
“I just had to try to play my game, because I knew it wasn't over,” Balit said. “Anything can happen on this course because it's so tight, and it just worked out for me today.”
Finishing four strokes behind Balit in second were Sobel and Joey Garber of Petoskey, Mich., who both had a tournament total of even-par 214. Finishing tied for fourth were Zhong Yang Fu of Bradenton and Blake English of Charlotte, Mich., both who had a three-day total of 3-over-par 217.
Na, 15, came into the final round tied with Katie Burnett of Brunswick, Ga., both having carded a two-round total of 4-over-par 148. Na set the pace early on Friday, racing out to a 5-stroke lead through the front nine. But her big cushion was short-lived as Na watched her 5-stroke lead evaporate to one while Pressel's relentless play set the tone for a dramatic finish. In the end, Na was able to birdie No. 18 and end all thoughts of a comeback.
“I bogeyed Nos. 10, 11 and 12, but I knew that I had to just take a deep breath and start fresh,” Na said. “I just had to play my own game and not worry about what the other players were doing.”
Finishing in second in the Girls Division was Pressel with a three-day total of 7-over-par 221. Rounding out the top three was Burnett of Brunswick, Ga., with a tournament-total of 11-over-par 221.
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 Coca-Cola Junior Championship at Boyne Highlands, please contact National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.