MABREY REBOUNDS ON FINAL DAY TO CLAIM AJGA ARKANSAS JUNIOR AT BLESSINGS
Talley closes out a wire-to-wire victory in the Girls Division at Blessings Golf Club
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Matthew Mabrey of Little Rock, Ark., overcame a less-than-stellar second round to fire a final-round 71 and win the AJGA Arkansas Junior at Blessings by one stroke. Emma Talley of Princeton, Ky., claimed her third AJGA Open victory of a strong summer season with a tournament total of 8-over-par 224.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the AJGA Arkansas Junior at Blessings was a 54-hole stroke play event held at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark. The tournament field consisted of 75 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18, from 20 states. The Boys Division played the par-72 Blessings Golf Club layout at 6,923 yards, and the Girls Division played at 5,900 yards.
Mabrey got out of the gates fast during Thursday's final round, as he recorded birdies on Nos. 2 and 3 at Blessings Golf Club. He cited familiarity with the course for helping him with his birdie at the 620-yard, par-5 No. 2.
“I know exactly what spot to aim at [on that hole],” Mabrey said. “I hit a good drive, laid up to a good yardage, had a little pitching wedge in and got it to three or four feet.
Mabrey led after 18 holes, but his second-round score of 9-over-par 81 left him five strokes back heading into the final round. He overcame that deficit with a relaxed mentality and five birdies.
“I think shooting 81 yesterday kind of helped me play freely,” Mabrey said. “I just went out and really didn't have any worries or anything; I just went out and played.”
Eli Juren of Austin, Texas, finished a close second to Mabrey at 9-over-par 225. Will Pearson of Memphis, Tenn., and Paul Ganske of Lakeville, Minn., finished tied for third place at 12-over-par 228, while Thomas Birdsey of Trophy Club, Texas, and Tyler Thomas of Beaumont, Texas, tied for fifth at 13-over-par 229.
In the Girls Division, Talley never trailed and added the crystal champions' award to her rapidly growing trophy case. This season she previously won the John Deere Classic Junior Open and the SAP Junior Open and had second-place finishes at the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior and the Nationwide Insurance Junior presented by the Memorial Tournament.
While her nine-stroke lead at the start of the day shrank as the leader girls group approached the clubhouse, Talley found the fortitude to refocus at the end and bank a six-stroke victory with a 9-over-par-81.
“At first, I didn't realize what my score was until it came down to the last couple holes,” Talley said. “I made two ten-footers to finish it out.”
Emma Lavy of Fayetteville, Ark., finished in second in the Girls Division at 14-over-par 230, while Emily Tubert of Burbank, Calif., and Amy Ruengmateekhun of Garland, Texas, closed strong to finish tied for third at 20-over-par 236.
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 an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and more than 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 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 200 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA tours and have compiled more than 350 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 about the AJGA Arkansas Junior at Blessings, please call AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.