Coosa Country Club
Rome, Ga.
May 28-31, 2002

Whitt sets AJGA record with 10-under-par 62

ROME, Ga. - Chris Kirk completed his stellar run at the AJGA Henry-Griffitts Rome Junior Classic, carding four birdies to secure his first American Junior Golf Association title with a 4-under-par 68 final round and a tournament total of 205. In the Girls Division, Mallory Code, of Tampa, Fla., captured her fourth AJGA victory, firing a 5-under-par 67 to score 209 for the tournament.

The Henry-Griffitts Rome Junior Classic, conducted by the AJGA, featured 99 boys and girls from 16 states and the Philippines, including 34 players from the state of Georgia. The 54-hole competition was the first of three AJGA tournaments that Henry-Griffitts will sponsor in the 2002 season.

Kirk, of Woodstock, Ga., led wire-to-wire and made two crucial birdies in the final round on Nos. 11 and 13 to secure the victory. His 2-under-par back nine reversed his fortune from the second round, when he made three bogeys.

"Yesterday's back nine made me mad enough to play a good round today," the 17-year-old senior-to-be said. "I feel great. This is the first really big tournament I've won."

Kirk's back nine birdies proved to be the difference between him and runner-up finishers Will Dottley of Greenville, Miss., and Stewart Whitt of Athens, Ala.

Whitt fired a final-round, 10-under-par 62, tying Coosa Country Club's course record and setting a new AJGA boys' record for the lowest score in a round. Whitt, who finished tied for second place with a 72-73-62-207 for the tournament, made birdie on seven of the final nine holes, including four-in-a-row on Nos. 11, 12, 13 and 14. Afterward, Whitt could only shake his head in amazement.

"This is crazy," said Whitt, who jumped from a tie for 10th place to a second-place finish. "It hasn't sunk in yet. The first thing I said to myself was, 'Wow!' I couldn't believe what I did."

Playing in his first AJGA event, Whitt credited his boost in confidence to hitting a number of three- and four-foot putts for par early in the final round. The turning point came on the 423-yard, par-4 seventh hole, where Whitt chipped in from the left side for par.

"After that, it was like a light bulb went on," Whitt, 17, said. "I never really felt pressure because I never thought I would be able to be up near the leaders. Going in, I never expected this in the least."

Dottley finished runner-up for the second straight year, carding a final-round 69 for a 9-under-par 207 to tie with Whitt for second. Preston Smith of Monroe, La., shot a 70-71-69-210 to take fourth. In a tie for fifth place, Scot Ploucha of Johnson City, Tenn., and Warren Thomas III, of Columbia, S.C., finished at 5-under-par 211.

Code, who was playing in her third tournament in as many weeks, said she was nervous coming into the final round, particularly after finishing in second place four times in the past 10 months. However, Code got in a zone on the back nine, scorching it for birdie on four straight holes to shoot 71-71-67-209.

"Last year, I bogeyed the last three holes and ended up second by one stroke," Code, 17, said. "I had a horrible thought process coming into this round. But this win has jumpstarted my summer and has given me an enormous amount of confidence."

The leader for the first two rounds, Brittany Lincicome, a 16-year-old Polo Golf Junior All-American from Pinellas Park, Fla., took the runner-up position with rounds of 68-73-74 for a tournament total of 215. One stroke behind her in third place was Erica Battle of Columbia, S.C., who carded a 71-72-73 to finish at 216.

For more information on the AJGA Henry-Griffitts Rome Junior Classic, or other AJGA tournaments, contact the AJGA at (770) 868-4200.


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