LOPEZ, KHARA EARN FIRST WINS AT MAYAKOBA JUNIOR GOLF CLASSIC
Lopez becomes first Mexican winner of third-annual tournament at El Camaleón Golf Club
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Quintana Roo, Mexico — Gabriela Lopez of Mexico City, Mexico, became the first Mexico native to win in either division at the Mayakoba Junior Golf Classic Thursday. Lopez finished at 1-over-par 214 to notch her first AJGA victory. In the Boys Division, Rocky Khara of Sebring, Fla., held on to his second-round lead to record his first win by two strokes, finishing at 6-over-par 216.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Mayakoba Junior Golf Classic was a 54-hole, stroke play event held at El Camaleón Golf Club and was the AJGA's only event held in Mexico. The field consisted of 84 players, of which 42 came from Mexico. The rest were from 13 U.S. states and Guatemala. El Camaleón Golf Club, home to the PGA TOUR's Mayakoba Golf Classic, was played at the PGA TOUR tournament yardage of 6,923 yards (par-70) in the Boys Division and at 5,822 yards (par-71) in the Girls Division.
Lopez, 15, entered the day with a five-shot lead over Alicia Malagon of Tampico, Mexico. Her round wasn't flashy, but it was enough to secure her the win. She finished with two birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey and knew she could have done better, but was pleased that playing it safe paid off in the end.
“I didn't putt as well today as I did yesterday,” Lopez said. “I was feeling the pressure a little bit, it made me nervous.”
The previous highest finish by a Mexican in the Mayakoba Junior Golf Classic was in 2007, when both Juan Pablo Hernandez and Malagon finished second.
“It is a great honor to win this event,” Lopez said. “Winning my first tournament in my home country is a very nice feeling.”
Malagon finished in second place at 6-over-par 219. Portland Rosen of Sugar Land, Texas, finished in third at 12-over-par 225.
In the Boys Division, Khara's got to hoist the champion's trophy, a replica of the Mayakoba Golf Classic's trophy, after finishing in the top-15 five times previously in his AJGA career. Playing with a one-shot lead Thursday, he said he wasn't feeling the pressure until the last few holes.
“I just tried to not focus on the lead being so close,” Khara said. “The wind was my real struggle today, I'm not a great wind player, but I was able to hold on and get it done.”
Finishing second behind Khara was Sebastian Vazquez of Mexico City, Mexico at 8-over-par 218. Patrick Grimes of Palo Alto, Calif., and Kevin Jorden of Juno Beach, Fla., finished in third place at 9-over-par 219. Brandon Pederson of Austin, Texas, finished in fifth at 13-over-par 223.
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 Mayakoba Junior Golf Classic please AJGA National Headquarters at 770-868-4200.