Slaton and Meltzer Come From Behind to Earn Top Honors at Preseason Junior at Ocala
Odaiyar leads wire-to-wire to finish atop Girls Division at Golden Hills Golf and Turf Club
OCALA, Fla. â€” Alex Slaton of Gainesville, Fla., and Jeffrey Meltzer of Bradenton, Fla., overcame first round deficits of seven and eight strokes, respectively, to earn co-medalist honors at 3-over-par 147. Kristine Odaiyar of Ocala, Fla., used a final-round 2-under-par 70 to leave no doubt on her way to an even-par 144 and the victory in the Girls Division.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, The Preseason Junior at Ocala hosted By Ocala-Marion County Sports Commission was a 36-hole stroke play event held at Golden Hills Golf & Turf Club. The 94-player field featured players from 13 states and 5 foreign countries. The Boys Division played Golden Hills Golf & Turf Club at 6,979 yards, while the Girls Division is played at 5,842 yards.
The Preseason Junior at Ocala hosted By Ocala-Marion County Sports Commission is one of eight events held as part of the Golf Academy of America Preseason Junior Series. The Golf Academy of America Preseason Junior Series is a series designed specifically for first-time AJGA members or those members who have not yet been accepted to or participated in an AJGA event in the current calendar year and/or the previous calendar year.
Slaton and Meltzer both won their first AJGA event in dramatic fashion. The two had only played in a Junior All-Star before coming to Ocala. Slaton made a 15-foot birdie putt on his last hole to earn the victory.
â€śIt feels good to win,â€ť Slaton said. â€śMy goal is to play in an Invitational this summer, so a win early on is huge.â€ť
On the other hand, Meltzer started the day just thinking about a possible top-5 finish, but two chip-ins, one of which was for eagle, turned things around quickly.
â€śIt was definitely unexpected,â€ť Meltzer said on the win. â€śThe chip-in on No.4 was huge. It started out like a regular round and then all of sudden I was 2-under-par.â€ť
Harley Abrams of Boca Raton, Fla., finished third with a 4-over-par 148. In a three way tie for fourth at 5-over-par 149 were John Jonas of Jacksonville, Fla., Tolver Dozier of Dothan, Ala., and Collin Engelhardt of Orlando, Fla.
Odaiyar used a low final round to leave the rest of the field behind in her first AJGA win. Playing on her home course took some pressure off and she was excited to get her first victory in front of friends and family.
â€śIt feels great to play well in this tournament,â€ť Odaiyar said. â€śIt definitely means a lot to win here, especially with my family being around.â€ť
In second was Mary Fran Hillow of Orlando, Fla., with a 7-over-par 151. Kristin Swindell of Bradenton, Fla., and Shannon Pak of Kenner, La., tied for third at 8-over-par 152.
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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 provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 30 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.
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AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 400 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.
For more information about the Preseason Junior at Ocala hosted By Ocala-Marion County Sports Commission, please contact AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.