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Hiwan Golf Club
Evergreen, Colorado
August 5-8, 2003

Merrell comes from four shots down to grab first AJGA win

EVERGREEN, Colo. - Staci Smoot of Rochester, Minn., carded a final round 75 to bring her tournament total to 233 and claim victory at the AJGA Transamerica Junior at Denver Friday. Garrett Merrell of Dallas came back from four strokes behind to claim his first AJGA win with a final round 71.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the AJGA Transamerica Junior at Denver was held at the par-70 Hiwan Golf Club and featured a field of 78 boys and 24 girls from 23 states.

In just her third AJGA event, the two-time Minnesota State Champion claimed her first AJGA win.

"I'm really excited to win my first AJGA tournament," Smoot said. "I made a list of goals at the beginning of this year and one of my goals was to win an AJGA event. So I'm really pumped to win and cross that off of my list."

Seventeen-year-old Smoot carded two birdies, five bogeys and a double bogey on the first hole to come back from two-strokes down and grab the win with a tournament total of 233.

"The first couple of holes were rough for me once again," remarked Smoot, who was 3-over-par after three holes of play. "But I just new the putts would start to fall and that my driver would come along. I won today because my driver started to work again."

Smoot was pleased to seize her first AJGA victory at Hiwan, knowing the tremendous challenge it proved to be for all juniors this week.

"I really like the course and enjoyed all of the holes," Smoot commented on Hiwan's layout. "The greens are very hard and I had to be strategic around the greens all week. It's a fun course and fun tournament."

Co-second round leader, Ashley Tait of Littleton, Colo., fell one stroke short of Smoot, claiming second, after carding a final-round 78, bringing her tournament total to 234. Tait was followed in third by Ashley Brophy of Spokane, Wash., who brought her tournament total to 235 after carding a final-round 79.

In the Boys Division, Merrell carded three birdies and four bogeys on his way to a final-round 1-over-par 71, bringing his tournament total to 218. His rounds of 76-71-71 closed out the tournament at 8-over-par.

"I hit the ball solidly all day and never made any big errors," commented Merrell. "I drove the ball well and gave myself a chance at every hole."

The AJGA Transamerica Junior at Denver was Merrell's sixth AJGA event and first AJGA victory.

"It was tough having to come from behind today, especially being paired with the leaders," Merrell said. "I'm very happy to win my first AJGA event. Hopefully this will open doors to play college golf."

Second-round leader, Jesse Barnsley of Albuquerque, N.M., brought his tournament total to 219 following a final round 76 and placed second. Kyle Sullivan of Grand Junction, Colo. shot a final-round 2-over-par 72, totaling 220 for the tournament; good for third place. Colin Wilcox of Camarillo, Calif., placed fourth with a tournament total of 220. Ryan Husted of Highlands Ranch, Colo., totaled 222 for the tournament and placed fifth.

For more information on the AJGA Transamerica Junior at Denver or any other AJGA event, please contact the association's headquarters at (877) 373-2542.