Fernandes Claims First AJGA Victory After Final-Round 2-Under-Par 70
Hirai finishes off wire-to-wire win in first AJGA event
BLUFFTON, S.C. — Rigel Fernandes of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, fired a final-round 2-under-par 70 to edge Zach Botts of Jonesborough, Tenn., by one stroke at even-par 216. Reona Hirai of Summerville, S.C., carded a 4-over-par 76 to win the Girls Division at 2-over-par 218.
The Hilton Head Junior All-Star is one of 10 events in the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series. Specifically designed for boys and girls ages 12-15, the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series presents opportunities for younger members to develop their skills and earn entry into AJGA Open tournaments. The Series concludes with the Montverde Academy Junior All-Star Invitational over Columbus Day weekend for winners and top finishers in Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series events.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Hilton Head Junior All-Star was a 54-hole stroke play event held on the South Course at Berkeley Hall Club. The tournament field featured 60 boys and 17 girls from 17 states, Barbados, British Colombia, Columbia and the United Arab Emirates. The Boys Division played the par-72 course at 6,761 yards and the Girls Division played at 5,970 yards.
Fernandes broke a tie with Botts when he holed out for eagle from a greenside bunker on the par-5 17th hole.
“I knew that I needed to get up and down for birdie on 17 because Zach had hit the green in two and wasn't going to three-putt,” Fernandes explained. “I hit it too hard and was praying that it would hit the cup and it did and went in.”
Botts finished in second at 1-over-par 217. In third was Corey Carlson of Green Cove Springs, Fla., at 2-over-par 218. Jordan Batchelor of St. Johns, Fla., Tyler Moore of Escondido, Calif., Thomas Walsh of High Point, N.C., and Bobby Jacobs of Valparaiso, Ind., rounded out the top five in a tie for fourth at 4-over-par 220.
Hirai held on for the win in her first AJGA event thanks to her solid putting throughout the tournament.
“Other than in the first round, I didn't hit too many good shots,” Hirai said. “My putter was on all week and it allowed me to hang on for the win.”
Alexandra White of Honolulu, finished in second at 7-over-par 223. Rachel Dai of Suwanee, Ga., rounded out the top three at 8-over-par 224.
GARY GILCHRIST GOLF ACADEMY, a full-time signature golf instruction program with campuses located in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., and in Arroyo Grande, Calif., began as an Official Partner of the AJGA in 2009. The partnership features an endowment of an Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant and the naming rights to the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series, which provides juniors ages 12-15 access to national competitive golf opportunities.
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 AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 30 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.
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. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 400 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.
For more information about the Hilton Head Junior All-Star, please contact AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-42400.