AJGA GREATER HARTFORD OPEN JUNIOR CLASSIC
Hop Meadow Country Club
August 11-14, 2003
McLEAN TAKES FIRST AJGA
WIN ON FINAL HOLE IN SIMSBURY
Louth finishes six strokes ahead to prevail in Girls Division
SIMSBURY, Conn. - Jon McLean of Weston Fla., captured
his first AJGA title after carding a 2-under-par 214 in the
AJGA Greater Hartford Open Junior Classic. Kelley Louth of
Victoria, Texas, finished with a three-round total of 226
to hold her spot atop the Girls Division leaderboard.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the 54-hole event featured 100 boys and girls, ages 13-18, from 18 states and Canada. The sixth annual event was held at the Hop Meadow Country Club for its second year.
After making a double-bogey on No. 15, McLean thought he was out of the running for the win. He, and three others, entered the last four holes neck-and-neck for the top spot.
"After the double on No. 15 I was pretty upset with myself," McLean said. "I thought I had blown it but I told myself it wasn't over. There were more birdies to be made."
McLean had five birdies on the day, as well as six bogeys and a double.
"I came into this round thinking I was going to have to shoot pretty low to win," the 17-year-old said. "Everyone was playing really well and we were all going low. I just had to try to stay focused. I figured things had to start going well because they hadn't been in the beginning."
In a three-way-tie for second behind McLean are George Gandranata of Bradenton, Fla., Andrew DiBitetto of Rochester, N.Y., and James Lee of Indio, Calif. All finished the tournament with one-under-par 215s.
Gandranata entered the event with hopes of gaining an invitation to next year's AJGA Thunderbird International Junior. He has one more chance for that invitation if he can win at the AJGA Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Junior Classic later this summer.
"I played really conservative today and never got nervous at all," Gandranata said. "I actually played way too careful and ended up slicing into the hazard on No. 18. That led to bad second and third shots and I eventually made a bogey that cost me the lead. But I'm happy with the way I played this week."
DiBitetto also lost the lead on the No. 18 green. His highest placing before this event was fifth at the AJGA Kroger Junior Invitational last week.
"Coming into this I had a goal to finish in the top five," he said. "I wanted to play well and give myself a chance to win. I'm going to go home and learn how to putt better and hopefully win at New Seabury in a couple of weeks."
Lee came into the AJGA Greater Hartford Open Junior Classic hoping to finish well and ended up tied for second.
"I did well the first two days," Lee said. "I just have to practice more and work harder. Then I'll try to win."
Louth lead the Girls Division through all three tournament rounds and finished six strokes ahead of her competitors. This is also Louth's first AJGA title. She lost in a sudden-death playoff to finish second at the AJGA TaylorMade-adidas Junior Classic at Bentwood this Easter.
"I played my own game this week and didn't try to be too aggressive," Louth said. "I tried not to think of the other girls and play my best regardless of how they were doing."
Louth attributes her success to her solid short game.
"I putted well on these greens," the 17-year-old said. "I liked the how big they were. The rest of my game fluctuated quite a bit, but winning feels great. This is my last tournament of the summer so I definitely wanted to win."
Meredith Godwin of Swarthmore, Pa., finished second after shooting a three round total of 232. The 17-year-old had one birdie on the day after making a 20-foot shot downhill on No. 17.
"I thought No. 16 was going to be a good hole too," Godwin said. "I thought I hit a good iron shot right on the flagstick, but it went over. I'm going to go home and practice my iron shots since that is where I'm struggling the most."
Godwin hopes to practice those shots to perfection so that she can put a win under her belt at the AJGA Jeffery M. Isener Memorial at New Seabury in two weeks.
"Eventually I hope I can play more consistently," she said. "My mental game needs work, but if I can fix that I could play on tour some day."
For more information on the AJGA Greater Hartford Open Junior Classic or any other AJGA event, contact tournament headquarters at (877) 373-2542, or visit our Web site at ajga.org.