Oakwood Country Club
Kansas City, Missouri
August 5-8, 2002

Prange grabs Girls Division crown

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - David Merkow of Hartland, Wis., won the AJGA Marsh Kansas City Junior after turning in an even-par 72 at Oakwood Country Club. In the Girls Division, Amber Prange of Noblesville, Ind., carded a 1-under-par 71 to take control and win her first national title. Both players started the day tied for first, but consistent rounds propelled them to the top of their respective divisions.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the 54-hole event was held at the par-72 Oakwood Country Club in Kansas City, Mo. The 99-player field featured players from 19 states and Japan, including 16 Missouri and 14 Kansas natives.

Merkow saw troubles in the final round after he birdied the par-4, 390-yard second hole. He went on to bogey holes No. 3, 6 and 9 to finish the front nine at 2-over-par 38.

"This feels really good because I've never been in a position to win an AJGA event," Merkow said. "I knew I could do this because my short game is finally coming around and it saved me a lot this week."

On the back nine, Merkow had eight pars and an eagle on the par-5, 498-yard 15th hole. His drive on No. 15 sailed into the deep rough to the right of the fairway and landed behind a tree. The 17-year-old was able to hook an 8-iron around the tree and place his ball within three feet of the hole.

"Sometimes the putts drop and sometimes they don't, but luckily they dropped for me this week," Merkow said. "This course looks easy, but once you start playing it's a different story. You have to drive the ball to the correct side of the fairway and it's not easy to make par when you miss greens. I enjoyed this week and I am happy to win an AJGA event."

Dean Merrill of Kansas City, Mo., finished in a tie for second at 218 after firing a final round 66. He finished the front nine at even par, but carded six birdies on the back nine. Merrill's round was the lowest of the tournament by four strokes and one off Oakwood Country Club's competitive course record.

Tyler Peglow of Marshalltown, Iowa, tied with Merrill at 73-72-73-218.
Jordan Payne of West Memphis, Ark., and Cameron Bishop of Tulsa, Okla., finished tied for fourth at 221.

In the Girls Division, Prange entered the final round tied for first place with Jennifer Hong of Windermere, Fla., at 5-over-par 144. She opened her round with five consecutive pars and a birdie on the par-5, 460-yard sixth hole. However, a drive that landed deep in the woods lead to a double-bogey on No. 8, and a front nine score of 1-over-par 37.

"At that point I could have fallen apart, but I knew that I would be all right," Prange said. "I came back with a great par on No. 9 and kept my confidence. Today I just played target golf. Everything really came together for me; I was hitting fairways and greens in regulation and making putts."

The 17-year-old Prange said she started the back nine with a good attitude and a lot of confidence. Birdies on hole Nos. 10, 11 and 14 gave Prange a permanent cushion over the Girls Division. She finished the championship with rounds of 71-78-71-220 to win her first national title.

"I've always wanted to win an AJGA event and I knew that today was my best chance yet," Prange said. "I had a lot of confidence during my round and I trusted my swing. It feels good to finish my summer tournaments with a win. Now I want to practice even more because if you can win one then you can win again."

Courtney Mahon of Topeka, Kan., finished second in the Girls Division at 75-78-74-227. Jennifer Hong of Windermere, Fla., finished third at 75-74-80-229.

For more information about the AJGA Marsh Kansas City Junior, please call AJGA national headquarters at (770) 868-4200.


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