DENMAN CATCHES FIRE ON BACK NINE FOR FIRST AJGA VICTORY
Drack takes 1-stroke victory in Girls Division
ROME, Ga. — Payne Denman of Riverwatch, Tenn., broke a tie for the lead with three straight birdies on the back nine to come up with the champion's trophy at the Burgett H. Mooney, Jr. Rome Classic. Kelly Drack of Melbourne, Fla., squeaked out a 1-stroke victory in the Girls Division after completing the Burgett H. Mooney, Jr. Rome Classic at even-par 213. Both are first-time American Junior Golf Association winners.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Burgett H. Mooney, Jr. Rome Classic was a 54-hole stroke play event held at Coosa Country Club in Rome, Ga. The tournament field consisted of 75 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18, from 19 states and Canada. The Boys Division played the par-71 Coosa Country Club course at 6,821 yards, and the Girls Division played at 6,030 yards.
Denman and Sean Kelly of Staten Island, N.Y., entered the day tied at 7-under-par, and the pair traded birdies for most of the round. When the final group stepped to the tee on No. 13, Kelly had a 1-stroke lead.
“It wasn't looking too good for me on 13; I think I was down one,” Denman said.
But Denman changed the story by holing out from the greenside bunker on the 455-yard, par-4 13th for a birdie.
“Sean played really solid all day,” Denman said. “He was making birdies, so I felt like a par wasn't a good score. That shot was really my first big break of the day.”
He moved to clinch the championship two holes later, as he strung together birdies on Nos. 15, 16 and 17.
The rising senior, who is considering Auburn, Florida State, North Carolina and Florida for college, finished the tournament at 14-under-par 199. Denman is the first junior to ever break 200 at the Burgett H. Mooney, Jr. Rome Classic, setting the 54-hole scoring record.
Kelly ultimately finished in second place with a tournament total of 11-under-par 202. Miller Capps of Denver, N.C., came in third with a 5-under-par 208, while Adam Schenk of Vincennes, Ind., Sawyer Shaw of West Palm Beach, Fla., and Bryan Lichimo of North Vancouver, British Columbia, all tied for fourth place after each had a tournament total of 4-under-par 209.
In the Girls Division, Drack battled her driver the whole round, as she exchanged a 3-under-par 33 front nine with a 3-over-par 38 back nine en route to an even-par day. Things got tight late with Ashlan Ramsey of Augusta, Ga., but Drack ultimately prevailed.
“Off the tee I wasn't very good today,” Drack said. “My putting and iron shots were key.”
Drack, a 2009 graduate who will begin her college golf career at Denver in the fall, was looking to end her AJGA career on a high note, and it appears she did just that.
“It's an honor, the AJGA has great tournaments and I hadn't won one before,” Kelly said.
Ramsey came in second after Drack after finishing at 1-over-par 214 for the tournament, and Anna Leigh Keith of Moultrie, Ga., rounded out the Girls Division top three with a tournament total of 3-over-par 216.
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 an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and more than 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 is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 200 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA tours and have compiled more than 350 wins. AJGA almni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
For more information about the Burgett H. Mooney, Jr. Rome Classic, please call AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.,