Spieth, Park Finish Strong to Win The PING Invitational
Champions are only players under par at Karsten Creek
STILLWATER, Okla. Jordan Spieth dominated the Boys Division to return to the winner's circle at The PING Invitational, while Kristen Park tied the women's course record in Monday's final round, claiming the girls' title at the fifth annual AJGA event at Karsten Creek.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, The PING Invitational was a 54-hole stroke play event held at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla. The 72-player field featured players from 19 states, Canada, the Philippines and Thailand. The Boys Division played Karsten Creek at 7,379 yards, while the Girls Division played at 6,306 yards.
Spieth, the 2009 Rolex Junior Player of the Year, entered the final round with a seven-stroke lead and continued to distance himself from the field after a phenomenal 5-under-par 31 on the front nine. Spieth's lead grew as large as 11 shots, ensuring there would be no drama as he sought his second PING Invitational title in three years.
I wanted to continue to stay aggressive like yesterday, Spieth said about his front nine. I wanted to stay below the hole, but still be aggressive. It paid off and I got some putts to drop, and all of a sudden I got in a routine; I got in a zone.
The wind kicked up on the back nine, and despite giving a few shots back, he cruised to a nine-shot victory, shooting a 2-under-par 70 to finish the week at 69-69-70208. Spieth was the only boy to finish the week under par.
Spieth is best known for being among the leaders in the final round of the PGA TOUR's HP Byron Nelson Championship this summer. But in the AJGA, he has long been among the top players, reaching the height of junior golf in 2009 when he was named the Rolex Junior Player of the Year.
He now has four AJGA victories and a win at the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.
In second place was defending champion Emiliano Grillo, an Argentinian who resides in Bradenton, Fla. Grillo finished at 1-over-par 217. Beau Hossler of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., finished 10 off the lead to take third place at 2-over-par 218.
Tied for fourth at 220 were Yi Keun Chang of Diamond Bar, Calif., Gavin Hall of Pittsford, N.Y., and Oliver Schniederjans of Powder Springs, Ga.
In the Girls Division, Park tied the course record set by Kyung Kim in the first round, allowing her to overcome the three-stroke gap between her and Kim at the start of the day.
My first two days I was struggling with my putting, but my shots made up for it, Park said. But today, everything just came together.
Park bogeyed her first hole, but then the birdies began pouring in as she birdied four of her next six holes, taking over the lead in the process. Adding two more birdies on her back nine, she never looked back en route to a five-stroke victory. Her closing score of 5-under-par 67 was the only girls' final-round score under par. Park won the Rolex Tournament of Champions earlier this year.
I've been working hard this year, and this is one tournament I've always wanted to win, she said.
Kim, of Chandler, Ariz., finished tied for second place with Shannon Aubert of Orlando, Fla., at even-par 216. Tied for fourth place at 2-over-par 218 were Cindy Feng of Orlando, Fla., and sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn of Bangkok, Thailand.
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 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.
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 on The PING Invitational, please contact AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.