THOMAS CARDS 4-UNDER-PAR 68 TO MEDAL IN SAN ANTONIO
Dong and Wickstrom share 76s to Medal
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Tyler Thomas of Beaumont, Texas, qualified for the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout presented by Pepsi Sunday with a 4-under-par 68. Jane Dong of Fremont, Calif., and Emily Wickstrom of Austin, Texas, tied with 4-over-par 76s to lead the Girls Division.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the K¹² Qualifier for the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout presented by Pepsi was an 18-hole stroke play event held at Cedar Creek Golf Club. The qualifier field featured 75 boys and 24 girls, ages 13-18, from 13 states Thailand, Mexico and New Zealand. The Boys Division played the par-72 layout at 6,912 yards, while the Girls Division played the course at 5,985 yards. K¹² Qualifiers give juniors an opportunity to "play their way in" to coinciding AJGA Open tournaments or earn a Tournament Exemption or Performance Star for a future event. The K¹² Qualifier Series offers opportunities for AJGA juniors at approximately 50 AJGA Open events.
Thomas struggled with his driver on the range before the round, but surprised himself with excellent shots of the tee once the shotgun sounded. He jump started his round with a 25-foot putt for birdie on No. 16 followed by two tap-in birdies on Nos. 17 and 18.
No. 5, the self-admitted most challenging hole for Thomas, soon became his favorite when he made par by hitting 3-iron off the tee and an 8-iron to lay up.
“No. 5 is really challenging,” said Thomas. “You have to have great ball placement, and I gave myself a chance with how well I played my irons all day.”
Joining Thomas in the tournament are Wesley McClain of Diboll, Texas, Colby Webb of Burleson, Texas, J.D. Allison of Hilton Head, S.C., Austin West of Burleson, Texas, Juan Espiga of Katy, Texas and Bradley Harrelson of Snoqualmie, Wash. Ryan Roseberry of Houston, Patrick Russo of Lewisville, Texas and Kolton Crawford of Mansfield, Texas, all qualified with 74s.
Doug Shipman of Spring, Texas, Andrew Kirby of Baton Rouge, La., and Caston Roberts of Gilbert, Ariz., qualified with scores of 73 and under, but chose to take an AJGA Tournament Exemption.
Wickstrom has been busy this summer playing in as many tournaments as she can, including last week's AJGA Nemacolin Junior Classic in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Ivy League hopeful hasn't had much time to practice with her busy golf schedule, but keeps her game sharp with tournament play.
“I finished the back nine with an 8-foot putt for birdie on No. 18,” said Wickstrom. “I like the par 5s. They are much easier to birdie.”
Bogeying her first four holes, Dong admits she struggled with putting at first. No. 3 was a game changer for Dong when she birdied that hole and the next three.
“After those four bogeys I started making my putts,” said Dong. “I even snuck in a few 12 footers.”
Dong chose to take a Tournament Exemption in lieu of playing in the tournament.
Joining Wickstrom in the tournament field are Chaslyn Chrismer of San Antonio, Taylor Moreno and Chelsea Bretcher both of Austin, Texas.
K¹² Inc., a technology-based education company, is the nation's leading provider of proprietary curriculum and online education programs to students in grades K-12. K¹² provides its curriculum and academic services to online schools, traditional classrooms, blended school programs, and directly to families. Over 55,000 students in 23 states and the District of Columbia are enrolled in online public schools that use the K¹² program. K¹² Inc. also operates the K¹² International Academy, an accredited, diploma-granting online private school serving students worldwide. The K¹² academic program is used by many young people pursuing careers in athletics, music, art, acting, and other professions that require a high degree of scheduling flexibility. More information can be found at www.k12.com.
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 alumni 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 Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout presented by Pepsi, please contact Tournament Director Courtney Jones at (678) 617-9406.