Jones Holds on to Lead to Medal In First AJGA Tournament in Two Years
Stephenson and George Tie for Medalist Honors in Girls Division
BRASELTON, Ga. — Rhyne Jones of Blowing Rock, N.C., shot a 1-under-par 70 in the final round to lead wire-to-wire in his first AJGA event of the year. Lauren Stephenson of Lexington, S.C., completed her final round without a bogey to score a 3-under-par 68 and share medalist honors with Avery George of Cleveland, Tenn., at even-par 142.
The Preseason Junior at Château Élan was a 36-hole stroke play event conducted by the American Junior Golf Association at Château Élan in Braselton, Ga. The tournament field consisted of 75 boys and 21 girls, ages 12-18. The Boys Division played the par-71 course at 6,645 yards and the Girls Division played at 5,753 yards.
Jones, playing in his first AJGA event since the Junior All-Star at Spring Creek in 2009, notched two birdies on the front nine to start his round. He finished at 4-under-par 138.
“I had a rough summer last year,” Jones said. “I feel a hundred times better. I just have a bunch of confidence in my game right now, ball-striking and putting-wise. It came through this weekend for me.”
Benjamin Wood of Florence, Ala., shot a 2-under-par 140 to come in second for the weekend. Andrew Hans of Birmingham, Ala., carded an even-par 142 for third. In fourth place was Zachary Healy of Norcross, Ga. Rounding out the top five in a tie were Will Blalock of Gastonia, N.C., and Justin Connelly of McDonough, Ga., with scores of 4-over-par 146.
George had a tough start, but made up a lot of ground throughout the day. She carded five birdies in her final round to put together a solid even-par 142 for the tournament.
“I started on No. 10 and made two bogeys, but then I birdied No. 17 and turned it around,” George said. “No. 17 really got me going and from then on I was just hitting them close.”
Stephenson was playing her second AJGA tournament of the year at the Château Course, having played in the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior All-Star at Château Élan earlier in the year. She was also among the youngest players in the field at 13 years old.
“Last time I played [here], I didn't do very well,” Stephenson said. “This time I had experience and I knew where to hit it and how to play it, which made it easier. I didn't have any bogeys. I just hit it down the middle and on the green, which made it pretty simple.”
In third place, was Janet Mao of Johns Creek, Ga., with a 1-over-par 143.
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 more than 40 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, 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 500 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Inbee Park and Morgan Pressel.
For more information about the Preseason Junior at Chateau Élan, please contact the AJGA Headquarters at (770) 868-4200 or visit ajga.org.