KIRK FIRES 5-UNDER-PAR TO SECURE VICTORY
THAT ELUDED HIM A YEAR AGO
Lincicome repeats 2001 victory at Chateau Elan
BRASELTON, Ga. - A pair of Polo Golf Junior All-Americans, Chris Kirk of Woodstock, Ga., and Brittany Lincicome of Seminole, Fla., claimed hard-fought titles Sunday at the AJGA TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Chateau Elan. It was the first time in three years that the tournament was not interrupted by bad weather.
The 36-hole stroke play event, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association at Chateau Elan Resort, featured 168 players from 23 states and two foreign countries. Past champions of the tournament, which is in its 10th year, include professional standouts Beth Bauer, David Gossett and Charles Howell III.
After entering the final round with a one-stroke deficit, Kirk captured the Boys Division by making birdie on two of his final three holes on the par-71 Chateau Course at Chateau Elan Resort.
"It's awesome," Kirk said. "Especially after what happened here last year - I bogeyed two of the last three holes to lose by a shot."
With rounds of 70-67, the University of Georgia-bound Kirk fought through a crowd of players on his way to the top. After the first round, he was one of 30 players within three shots of the lead. At the end of the final round, he separated himself by two shots at 5-under-par 137.
The road to victory hit an early speed bump when Kirk made bogey on the first hole. He quickly regrouped, however, making birdie on the next two holes and never making bogey again. Three more birdies at 13, 16 and 18 gave him a comfortable two-shot lead as he watched the final two groups come in.
Chris Wells (70-69-139) of Mobile, Ala., chipped in for birdie at 18 to share runner-up honors with Matthew Swan (71-68-139) of Montgomery, Ala. Tied for fourth place were Brendon Todd of Cary, N.C., and Brian Harman of Savannah, Ga., both at 72-68-140.
In the Girls Division, the 17-year-old Lincicome shot rounds of 71-73 on the Woodlands Course to win her second Girls Division title at Chateau Elan Resort at even-par 144. Two years ago, Lincicome won the tournament when it was played on the Chateau Course.
Lincicome entered the final round with a one-stroke lead and was chased all day by Nicole Hage of Coral Springs, Fla., who was playing one group ahead of Lincicome. Hage took over the lead at hole No. 10 when she made her third birdie of the day to move to 2-under-par. However, a double-bogey at the par-5 15th, where she hit into two water hazards, swung the lead back in favor of Lincicome.
Hage evened the score again at the par-3 17th by sinking a 15-foot birdie putt, before finishing with a bogey to close at 72-73-145 and return a one-shot lead to Lincicome.
Lincicome, who played steady all day, making one birdie and two bogeys through 17 holes, chose not to ask how Hage stood as she teed off at 18.
"I didn't want to know," Lincicome said. "I would have been thinking too much. I figured I needed to make birdie to win so that's what I tried to do."
Lincicome gave herself a chance for birdie on the 18th hole, where she stuck her approach on the par-4 to eight feet. When she missed her birdie putt, she assumed she was heading for a playoff, not knowing that Hage had just made bogey to finish one shot back. The victory was somewhat surprising to the long-hitting Lincicome, who recently retooled her swing in an effort to gain more consistency.
"I wasn't expecting to win it," she said. "But as hard as I've worked on my swing, I'm glad it paid off. In the long run, it's going to help out a lot."
Finishing third was Julieta Granada of Bradenton, Fla.,
at 75-71-146, just two shots off the pace.
For more information on the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Chateau Elan, please contact AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.