KIM EMERGES AS BOYS DIVISION
CHAMPION AT 10-UNDER-PAR 206
Liao wins Girls Division at 13-under-par 203
TEMPE, Ariz. -
Sihwan Kim of La Mirada, Calif., returned from a two-stroke
deficit Sunday to finish at 10-under-par 206 and claimed the
Boys Division title at the AJGA PING Phoenix Junior Championship.
In the Girls Division, Ki-Shui Liao of Alameda, Calif., finished
the tournament at 13-under-par 203 to claim victory.
The 54-hole stroke play event, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, featured a field of 84 players, 60 boys and 24 girls, with 43 competitors hailing from California. Past champions of the AJGA PING Phoenix Junior Championship include Grace Park and Tiger Woods.
The 14-year-old Kim was beside himself with an eagle on the par-5 No. 10 and the tournament award for low final-round score of 5-under-par 67.
"This whole week felt lucky," Kim said. "Today everything was perfect and right at the pin."
Kim's future as a junior golfer looks bright, his victory at PING Phoenix caps off a solid season, which included a first-place victory at the AJGA Nike Junior All-Star Classic at Colonial presented by Mississippi Farm Bureau. Kim said he is optimistic about his chances next season.
"I feel like I'm starting a golfer's life," Kim said. "I was really motivated today by playing with some great golfers. I'm looking forward to next year and playing at more invitational events."
Matthew Pierce, Jr., of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., finished in second-place at 2-under-par 70 and a tournament total of 7-under-par 209. Pierce kept his final round moving with an eagle on the par-5 No. 5.
"I am very proud of my play this week," Pierce said. "I was nervous coming off of the first tee and I kept getting into trouble with my driver so I just tried to focus on my long and midirons. On No. 5 I made eagle when I hit my five iron out of the trap to within 20 feet of the hole and drained the putt. If you had told me I'd have second place before the tournament, I would have been really happy. Kim just outplayed me, he was awesome out there."
Tied for third-place was Daniel Im of La Habra, Calif., and Phillip Bryan of Mustang, Okla., at 6-under-par 210. Rounding out the top-five in the Boys Division is Trey Denton of Canton, Miss., at 5-under-par 211.
In the Girls Division, Liao, 15, used three consecutive birdies on the front nine to solidify her lead.
"I was putting great all week," Liao said. "This tournament really taught me that I could shoot under 70 consistently. That in itself has definitely put more confidence in my game, especially going into the AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic."
Tiffany Joh of San Diego, Calif., fired solid rounds of 69-69-68-206 to finish 10-under-par and claim second place in the Girls Division. The 16-year-old Joh used accurate drives to go 1-under-par 34 on the front nine and 3-under-par 34 on the back nine.
"All of the par-5's went really well," Joh said. "I had a plethora of great putts, and I'm very excited about my placement here today. My goal is to work hard on my game and get into the AJGA Thunderbird International Junior."
Angela Park of Torrance, Calif., tied with Joh for second place at 10-under-par 206. Park, 14, said her day turned around with a 40-foot downhill eagle putt on the par-5 No. 5.
"I'm very satisfied with my performance," Park said. "I can't see the outcome of each tournament, but I always want to practice, work hard, and give it my best. I really had fun, I hope to return next year."
For more information on the AJGA PING Phoenix Junior Championship, please visit ajga.org or call the AJGA's national headquarters at (770) 868-4200.