Malagon Takes Home First AJGA Title at Aaron's / Bob Estes Abilene Junior
Fuller's 12 birdies, eagle and double-eagle lift him atop leaderboard to first AJGA victory at Abilene Country Club's Fairway Course
ABILENE, Texas — After five years worth of play with the AJGA, four top-10 finishes, and two second-place finishes, Alicia Malagon of Tampico, Mexico, accomplished a feat that has eluded her: Championship honors. After leading the Girls Division through the first two rounds of play, Malagon capped off an impressive tournament by shooting 2-under-par 70, giving her a tournament total of 9-under-par 207. In the Boys Division, Austen Fuller of Edmond, Okla., shot the low score of the day with a 4-under-par 68, bringing his tournament total to 3-under-par 213.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Aaron's / Bob Estes Abilene Junior was a 54-hole stroke-play event, held at the Abilene Country Club's Fairway Course in Abilene, Texas. The 142-player field featured 114 boys and 28 girls from 16 states and Mexico. The Boys Division played the course at 7,044 yards, while the Girls Division played the course at 6,029 yards.
Coming into the final round with a nine-stroke lead, Malagon continued her strong play by carding a birdie on her first hole of the day, No. 1. She would go on to birdie Nos. 9, 14 and 15, giving her a tournament total of nine birdies and an eight-stroke lead over her fellow competitors. Her strong play came at the perfect moment.
“I only have one more tournament after this and I am really happy and excited I had the opportunity to play here at Abilene Country Club,” Malagon said. “Winning my first tournament feels great, especially with a low score.”
While finishing in first place may be memorable for most, it was Malagon's play on the No. 14 hole that will stick with her forever. After sinking an eagle in the first round on the hole, Malagon followed with a double-eagle on the second day of play. Her dominance of the hole continued through to the final round.
“I was so excited to get to No. 14 today,” Malagon said. “I wanted to at least get a birdie on the hole. For me it is a pretty short par-5, and I drove the ball about 147 yards to the entrance of the green with my driver. I chipped up to the fringe of the green and then sank a nice putt for the birdie. At Rolex Tournament of Champions on the Blessing's course I had a 15 and a 9 on the No. 14 hole, so it was like sweet revenge on No. 14.”
Anne Cheng of Torrance, Calif., finished the tournament at 1-under-par 215 to take home second place honors. In third place was last years champion, Kaylin Terry of Austin, Texas, with a 12-over-par 228.
Like Malagon, Fuller had never won an AJGA event prior to the Aaron's / Bob Estes Abilene Junior. While Fuller struggled throughout his first two rounds of play, his strong performance in the final round was enough to push him to the top of the leaderboard.
“I didn't play well at all on the first day and didn't start off my second round well, either,” Fuller said. “I had a lot of lip outs but all my putts were right there.”
Taking home the title of champion would not be the only thing Fuller shared with Malagon this week, though. Like his female counterpart, Fuller notched a double-eagle on No. 14 to highlight his final round.
“I had an eagle on No. 9 that really got me back in the zone,” Fuller said. “Then on No. 14 I had my double-eagle. One of the kids in my group was up by the green and when he saw it go in he just raised up his hand. I just thought the ball was going to be close to the hole but it ended up in the hole somehow. After that I just took it one hole at a time, but it was really exciting and I'm glad I played well. I've been working hard on my hundred yard shots this year.”
Trailing Fuller by one-stroke to take home second place was John Rafael of Corpus Christi, Texas with a 2-under-par 214. Preston Harrington of Dallas, Cole Kennedy of Texarkana, Texas, and Kyle Pilgrim of Colleyville, Texas, round out the Boys Division leaderboard tied in third place with tournament totals of even-par 216s.
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.
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. 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 Aaron's / Bob Estes Abilene Junior, please contact National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.