The Concord Resort & Golf Club, The Monster Course
Kiamesha Lake, New York
August 12-15, 2002

Bickerton tames The Monster, wins by six-strokes

KIAMESHA LAKE, N.Y. -- Two first-time winners seized their respective division crowns at the Lessing's AJGA Classic Thursday. Jason Occi of Cranford, N.J., carded a 223 to edge two others by one stroke in the Boys Division, while Ashley Bickerton of Ottawa shot 227 in cruising to a six-shot victory in the Girls Division.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Lessing's AJGA Classic featured 79 boys and 21 girls representing 19 states and Canada, including 35 players from the state of New York. The tournament was held on the par-72 Monster Course at The Concord Resort & Golf Club, spread over 6,953 yards for boys and 5,968 yards for girls.

In the highly competitive Boys Division, the 16-year-old Occi clinched the crown, over Conner Doherty of Woodstock, Vt., and Joe April of Sewell, N.J., with a dramatic birdie putt on Hole No. 18.

"The whole day was pressure packed," Occi said. "We were having fun all day and all I tried to do was stay calm and play safe."

The key to Occi's win, in his first AJGA tournament, was his red-hot putter and mental strength. During the tournament Occi recorded only one 3-putt, which happened to be a 70-foot uphill putt.

"The most important parts of my golf this week were my putter and my head," Occi said. "It was tough out there and you had to be smart all day. Fortunately I made a lot of good decisions."

In winning his first AJGA tournament, Occi is anticipating additional challenges to his golf game.

"This win means a lot to me," Occi said. "I have two years of high school left and hopefully I can play in a lot more AJGA tournaments."

Tied for second at 224 were Conner Doherty and Joe April. New York native Brent Herlihy of Glens Falls finished alone at 225 to place fourth. In a three-way tie for fifth at 227 were Chris Flatley of Darien, Conn., Hunter Watts of Keswick, Va., and Bill McCrary of Houston.
In a two-way tie for eighth at 228 were Marco Poccia of Gansevoort, N.Y., and Jarred Texter of Millersville, Pa. The top-10 was rounded out by a three-way tie for 10th with Raman Luthra of Buffalo, N.Y., KJ Camera of Manchester, Conn., and James Granello of Rumson, N.J.

Heading into the final round with a five shot lead over the Girls Division, a confident Bickerton focused on minimizing her mistakes.

"I struggled at the start and I missed a lot of shots," Bickerton said. "But I did what I had to do and I finished strong."

After a frustrating start to her morning, Bickerton's first positive run came at Hole Nos. 7, 8 and 9, where she scored par, birdie, par.

"That was huge for me," Bickerton said. "I made key shots when I needed to make key shots."

The 17-year-old Bickerton's capping moment came at the par-5, 16th , where she missed a drive into the woods. From there she punched out to set herself up for a 220-yard shot uphill and into the wind.

"I hit a 3-wood and absolutely smoked it to about four feet," Bickerton said. "At that point I was five up and wasn't making any putts. Then I hit one into the woods and anything can happen in there."

With her first career AJGA win under her belt, Bickerton looks forward to playing in additional tournaments and showcasing her competitive drive.

"I want to play to my potential and playing against the best competition will bring that out," Bickerton said.

Megan Grehan of Mamaroneck, N.Y., finished in second place at 233. Tiffany Tavee of Gilbert, Ariz., finished in third place at 234.

For more information on the Lessing's AJGA Classic or any other AJGA event, please contact our national headquarters at (877) 373-2542.


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