WYATT SUFFOCATES FIELD WITH STEADY PLAY, WINS THE JUNIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Merkulov finishes second at TPC Sawgrass
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Bobby Wyatt of Mobile, Ala., became the third Junior PLAYERS champion in history on Sunday after he fired a final round 1-under-par 71, finishing the tournament with a three-day total of 6-under-par 210. Yaroslav Merkulov of Penfield, N.Y., had a solid round of 1-under-par 71 to finish the tournament at 3-under-par 213 to claim second. Jeffrey Kang of Fullerton, Calif., and Patrick Rodgers of Avon, Ind., both finished third with three-day totals of 2-under-par 214.
In cooperation with the PGA TOUR, the American Junior Golf Association brought 78 players, ages 12-18, from 18 states and 15 foreign countries to TPC Sawgrass for a special junior golf experience. The Junior PLAYERS Championship was mirrored after THE PLAYERS and was being played at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course. The par-72 layout was set-up at 7,215 yards, the same as the PGA TOUR event that brings together the deepest tournament field in professional golf. Tournament participants were furnished with professional caddies, access to the TOUR locker room and tournament gifts that gave this event a PGA TOUR-like feel.
Wyatt took the lead early and never looked back. After a tap-in birdie on the 532-yard par-5 2nd, he found himself with a two-shot lead after two holes. It was all but over from there. After going out in 2-under-par 34, he headed into the back nine with a four-shot lead. He swapped back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 with bogeys on Nos. 14 and 16. Standing on No. 18 tee, all he had to do was make triple bogey or better to win.
“I knew that I had it won when I hit my drive safe on No. 18,” Wyatt said. “I hit a 4-iron up by the green, chipped on, and two putted which was all I had to do. Once I realized I was in the lead, I started to play really conservative down the stretch which was good enough for the win.”
Wyatt has been in somewhat of a drought, as his last win came at the 2008 Charles Howell III Junior Championship. The long wait for another title was well worth it.
“It's a great feeling to win here,” Wyatt said. “I've been here three years and each year has been a little bit better and to finally win is a great honor. To be involved with TPC Sawgrass and the THE PLAYERS Championship is really exciting experience for me.”
As Wyatt lost sight of many of his competitors during the final round, Kang and Merkulov battled for second. Kang made eagle on the 523-yard par-5 16th to sit alone in second, but stumbled down the stretch after he bogeyed his last two. Merkulov birdied Nos. 16 and 17 to jump ahead of Kang. With a two-putt for par on No. 18, he finished alone in second.
Tied for fifth were Jay Hwang of San Diego, and Oliver Schniederjans of Powder Springs, Ga., each finished at even-par 216.
THE PLAYERS Championship annually combines the best field in golf with the world-class venue that is THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. PricewaterhouseCoopers, JELD-WEN and UBS are the exclusive Proud Partners of THE PLAYERS.
Proceeds from THE PLAYERS benefit Northeast Florida charities. Since 1977, when THE PLAYERS Championship moved to Ponte Vedra, more than $31 million has been contributed to Northeast Florida charities, including a record of $3 million donation in 2008.
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 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 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, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
For more information regarding The Junior PLAYERS Championship, contact National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.