CHA FIRES 4-UNDER-PAR 68 TO CAPTURE TITLE AT DIABLO GRANDE
Kim cruises to 6-stroke victory in Girls Division
DIABLO GRANDE, Calif. — It took all 54 holes of the PING Junior at Diablo Grande to crown a Boys Division champion. Tim Cha of Chino Hills, Calif., began the final round three strokes back, but fired a 68 to earn a one stroke victory at 69-71-68 — 208. Jenny Kim of Los Angeles, maintained her momentum and her lead from the first two rounds, and won easily at 69-69-72 — 210. Both 18-year-old Cha and 15-year-old Kim notched their first career AJGA victories on Thursday.
The PING Junior at Diablo Grande, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, featured 86 boys and 19 girls — ages 12-18 — from 11 states. The event was staged on the 6,919-yard, par-72 Legends West Course (Girls Division played at 5,858).
Cha began the day in a tie for third. He struggled off the first tee, and went on to bogey the 415-yard, par-4 No. 1. After making birdie on three of the next four holes, Cha finished the front nine 1-under-par. In great position for the home stretch, he went bogey-free on the back nine.
On the 515-yard, par-5 No. 15, Cha thought he hit a bump in the road.
“On No. 15, I sprayed my tee shot way right into the thick brush,” said Cha. “But I nailed my approach to 5-feet and made birdie.”
After a second consecutive birdie on No. 16, Cha moved to 4-under where he would finish the day. With one group still to finish, he wasn't sure where his score of 8-under ranked. It didn't take long for him to see his score was lowest score recorded. He then watched Patrick Tom of Norwalk, Calif., miss a 40-foot putt on No. 18 that would have forced a playoff.
Cha, who will continue his career this fall at the University of California, Irvine, was playing in his final AJGA event Thursday. Reflecting on his junior career, Cha couldn't help but smile.
“It's ironic. My AJGA career began here at Diablo four years ago and now it's ending here,” said Cha. “To finally win is unbelievable. I've been waiting for this since I began years ago.”
Co-leader after 36 holes, Tom finished second at 209. Geoff Gonzalez of Diablo, Calif., Dustin Rhone of Culver City, Calif., and Kaz Hoffman of Tiburon, Calif., all finished tied for third, two strokes back at 210.
Kim struggled early, despite coming into the day seven strokes ahead. Her rollercoaster of a front nine, began with a bogey on No. 1. After getting back to even on No. 2., she would again bogey No. 3. It looked as if she found her groove on the 155-yard, par-3 No. 4, when she chipped in for birdie from behind the green. However Kim again made bogey on No. 5. She went on to finish the front nine 2-over-par.
“My shots and putts were not working on the front nine at all,” Kim reflected. “On the back, I still had problems with my drives, but my putting finally improved.”
On the back nine, she remained 2-over-par heading into the final two holes. She rallied and made birdie on Nos. 17 and 18 to end the final round even-par.
While Kim is pleased with her results, she is not content with just one win. Kim plans on playing in two more AJGA Open Tournaments this summer, and will now play in late July in the McDonalds Betsy Rawls Girls Championship.
“I am really excited to have finally won my first AJGA event,” Kim said.
Coming in second was Grace Chung of Fullerton, Calif., at 217. Christina Stockton of Auburn, Calif., came in third with a tournament total of 218.
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 largest Association of its kind, the AJGA has a junior 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, which enters its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Beth Bauer.
For more information about the PING Junior at Diablo Grande, contact National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.