MORRIS BIRDIES IN SUDDEN-DEATH PLAYOFF TO WIN THE PING INVITATIONAL
Grillo Clinches a Victory in the Boys Division at Karsten Creek Golf Club
STILLWATER, Okla. — Defeat was not an option for Rachel Morris, 17, of Carlsbad, Calif., as she battled for her first AJGA Invitational victory against Victoria Tanco of Bradenton, Fla. Both girls carded a tournament total of 4-over-par 220, but it was Morris who sealed the win in a sudden-death playoff at The PING Invitational Monday. In the Boys Division, Emiliano Grillo, 17, of Resistencia, Argentina, maintained his lead from the first and second rounds to also notch his first AJGA Invitational win at 1-under-par 215.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, The PING Invitational was a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Karsten Creek Golf Club. The 72-player field featured players from 19 states, Argentina, Colombia, Denmark, Northern Ireland and Thailand. The Boys Division played Karsten Creek Golf Club at 7,316 yards, while the Girls Division played at 6,307 yards.
Morris led Tanco by one stroke after Tanco bogeyed No. 10, but Tanco pulled into a tie after carding a birdie on No. 17. With an approach shot that left her four feet from the hole on No. 18, Tanco found herself in perfect position to make a birdie. Morris answered by making a 12-foot putt that took the tournament into a sudden-death playoff.
“I just knew teeing off that I had to make a birdie no matter what she did,” Morris said. “She almost hit the green on her second shot so I expected her to make a birdie and she did.”
Going to No. 10 for the sudden-death playoff, Morris hit her drive down the middle of the fairway about 135 yards from the green, while Tanco was left with a bad lie off the right side of the fairway. Morris' second shot landed on the green, 25 feet right of the hole. She drained the birdie putt for the victory.
“I played that hole well today and knew if I hit a good drive I would be fine,” Morris said. “I had a good putt and trusted the line. When it went in I couldn't believe it.”
Tanco finished second in the Girls Division at 4-over-par 220. Rounding out the top three was Sarah Brown of Phillipsburg, N.J., at 9-over-par 225.
Grillo did not have his strongest round, but a four-stroke lead was enough to hold off the competition. He carded a 4-over-par 76 and was the only player in the field to finish the tournament under par.
“I think I putted well the first two days but my putting was worse today,” Grillo said. “My goal was to win an Invitational, so it feels pretty good.”
Finishing three strokes behind Grillo in second was Oliver Schniederjans of Powder Springs, Ga., at 2-over-par 218. In third was Jim Liu of Smithtown, N.Y., at 3-over-par 219. Payne Denman of Riverwatch, Tenn., carded a tournament total of 7-over-par 223 for fourth. Jordan Spieth of Dallas, and Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos, Calif., tied for fifth at 8-over-par 224.
This week's tournament title partner, PING, designs, manufactures and markets a complete line of golf equipment including metal woods, irons, putters and golf bags. The family-owned company was founded in 1959 by the late Karsten Solheim. Solheim is the only person to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as a golf club manufacturer. Today, the Phoenix-based company is under the direction of Solheim's youngest son, John A. Solheim. PING game-improvement products can be found in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.pinggolf.com.
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.
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 and Morgan Pressel.
For more information about The PING Invitational, please contact National Headquarters at 770-868-4200 or visit the AJGA Web site at ajga.org.