Champions Report

June 9, 2017 - Nine first-time champions kick off summer season

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Week one of the 2017 summer season at the AJGA has come and gone. The first week brought nine first-time AJGA champions, and a couple of close finishes.

Evitt Foundation RTC Junior All-Star  2017 marks the 15th year that the AJGA has hosted an event at WindStone Golf Club. This year, Gordon Sargent of Birmingham, Alabama, and Leila Raines of Galena, Ohio, won their first AJGA tournaments at the Evitt Foundation RTC Junior All-Star. Sargent finished at 9-under-par 204 after carding an eagle and six birdies in the final round. The 14-year-old also competed in the 2017 AJGA Junior All-Star presented by Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy, where he finished sixth. Raines also carded six birdies in the final round, to end at even-par 213. She tallied 13 birdies across the tournament. The Evitt Foundation RTC Junior All-Star was Raines’ fourth ACDS Junior All-Star event.

Davis Love III Junior Open – The Davis Love III Junior Open in Brunswick, Georgia, consisted of 84 juniors from 14 states and 10 countries, but it was Akshay Bhatia of Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Haylin Harris of Carmel, Indiana, that took home the titles in the Boys and Girls Divisions, respectively. Bhatia recorded 13 birdies to finish at 3-under-par 207. This is the 15-year-old’s third AJGA win, with his first two coming in 2016 at the 2016 AJGA / CJGT Junior at Yorba Linda and the IZOD AJGA Championship. Harris finished at 1-under-par 209 for her first AJGA win. The 17-year-old will graduate in 2018, and has verbally committed to continue her golf career at Michigan State University.

Hale Irwin Colorado Junior by Transamerica – The Hale Irwin Colorado Junior by Transamerica took place for the third straight year, but the first at Walnut Creek Golf Preserve. A pair of 15-year-olds took home their first AJGA titles from the event on June 8. Artem Yalovenko of Moscow, Russia, won the Boys Division with a 7-under-par 209. Yalovenko put away 14 total birdies, seven of which came in his 5-under-par 67 final round. Hailey Schalk of Erie, Colorado, carded a 4-under-par 212 to take the victory. In May Schalk won the Class 3A Colorado state championship.

Under Armour® / Gary Woodland Championship – The AJGA returned for the fourth consecutive year to The Jayhawk Club for the Under Armour® / Gary Woodland Championship. The event played host to two exciting finishes when Bohyun Park of Farmer’s Branch, Texas, stretched her lead over the field and Derek Hitchner of Minneapolis, Minnesota, went to a sudden death playoff to earn their titles. Park finished the first round T2 before proceeding to sink six birdies and an eagle to break away from the pack. The 14-year-old claimed the title in her first ever AJGA tournament at 4-over-par 220. Hitchner finished the final round tied with Jared Strathe of Owasso, Oklahoma. In the sudden death playoff, the Pepperdine University commit birdied the second hole to take the title.

AJGA Junior All-Star at Owensboro – Marshall Meisel of Chevy Chase, Maryland, had a come-from-behind victory, while Anika Dy of Traverse City, Michigan, went wire-to-wire in the Girls Division. Meisel’s final tournament round score of 5-under-par 67 matched the tournament low, and earned him his first AJGA title. The 14-year-old finished at 8-under-par 208, complete with 17 birdies. Dy recorded nine birdies during her title campaign. The University of Michigan verbal commit has competed with the AJGA for four years.

Azahara Munoz Championship by Transamerica – Returning to ASU Karsten for the 27th time, the AJGA crowned two wire-to-wire winners at the Azahara Munoz Championship by Transamerica. Sixian (Tyler) Guo of Irvine, California, carded birdies on the way to claiming the Boys Division title. The University of Southern California verbal commit has finished in the top five on three occasions since 2016. Guo finished at 10-under-par 200. Veronica Joels of Las Vegas, Nevada, carded two rounds under par through the week. The UNLV verbal commit finished at 7-under-par 203. Joels is currently No. 143 in the AJGA rankings.