Chateau Elan Golf Club – Chateau Course

Braselton, Georgia

April 4, 2004




Bell, Witcher, Clanton take medalist honors


BRASELTON, Ga. – With 26 spots up for grabs in next weekend’s TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Chateau Elan, 155 boys and 33 girls battled in a pair of American Junior Golf Association qualifiers Sunday at Chateau Elan Golf Club.

            Ryan Bell of Charlotte, N.C., medaled in the 60-player Boys Division during the morning qualifier, claiming one of eight spots. Cydney Clanton of Concord, N.C., led all 33 girls to claim one of six open spots in the Girls Division.

            In the afternoon qualifier, 95 boys competed for 12 spots in the Boys Division, with Brent Witcher of nearby Duluth, Ga., emerging as the medalist.

            Shooting a 1-under-par 69 in the morning, the 17-year-old Bell fired the day’s lowest round on the strength of five birdies.

            “I kept the ball in play, hit my irons close, and made good putts,” Bell said.

That held true at 16,17 and 18, where he made three straight birdies. Bell drained a 25-foot putt at the par-3 16th, followed by a 20-footer at the par-4 17th, and a much shorter birdie putt at 18, where he stuck his approach to five feet on the par 4.

Rounding out the morning boys’ qualifiers were: John Ebert of Charlotte, N.C., at even-par 71; Patrick McShane of Rome, Ga., at 73; Bryant Hare of St. Simons Island, Ga., and Justin Kim of Clifton, Va., at 74; William Bradshaw of Columbia, S.C., and Baker Elmore of Cheraw, S.C., at 75; and Jordan Johnstun of LaGrange, Ga., who shot a 76 and survived a sudden-death playoff to claim the final qualifying spot.

In the Girls Division, the 14-year-old Clanton led all competitors by three shots after firing a 2-over-par 73.

“It’s exciting; it feels really good,” she said, after picking up her medalist trophy. “The wind was blowing and it was pretty tough today, but I was still hitting my driver really well and I mad e a lot of putts.”

Other girls qualifying were: Rebecca Durham of St. Simons Island, Ga., at 76; Blair Lamb of Flat Rock, N.C., and Mallory Hetzel of Summerville, S.C., at 77; Abigale Schepperle of Hoover, Ala.; and Brittany Skoda of Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

            In the afternoon qualifier, Witcher shot 3-over-par on the front nine and questioned if he would even qualify. After making par on the next six holes, he wanted to make a move.

            “I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it,” Witcher said. “But I chipped in for birdie on 16 and made a 12-footer for another one on 18.”

            The closing pair of birdies not only secured a qualifying spot, but lifted Witcher to the top of the field on a windy afternoon that created difficult scoring conditions.

            Finishing close behind Witcher were: Hudson Swafford of Tallahassee, Fla., and Christopher Bagley of Charlotte, N.C., at 2-over-par 73; as well as Kevin White of Huntsville, Ala., Ian Cutting of Fayetteville, Ga., and Peter Malnati of Dandridge, Tenn., at 74.

            Additional qualifiers included: Young Cha of Wesley Chapel, Fla., Chad Keohane of Bradenton, Fla., Troy Bartkowicz of Sharpsburg, Ga., and Wade Holland of Fayetteville, Ga., at 75; and Patrick Rada of Anderson, S.C., and Ryan Ruggiere of Athens, Ga., at 76.

The TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Chateau Elan, an American Junior Golf Association event, will feature 132 players – ages 12-18 – from more than 20 states and Canada. The 36-hole stroke play event will be played on the Chateau Course April 9-11. Chateau Elan Resort is home to the AJGA’s National Headquarters.

This is the 11th annual AJGA Easter Weekend event in Atlanta. Beth Bauer, the 2002 LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year, won this event five straight years (1994-98) during her junior days. Charles Howell III won alongside Bauer in 1996. Last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion Virada Nirapathpongporn took home top honors twice (1999-2000) before heading to Duke University. Four University of Georgia golfers won this event before they left the junior ranks: Erik Compton (1998); Christo Greyling (1999-2000); Whitney Wade (2002); and Chris Kirk (2003).

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 has a membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.

Titleist, the AJGA’s National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association’s success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, a supporter of the AJGA since 1983, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.

For more information about the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Chateau Elan please contact Tournament Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.




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