COLLOPY COMES FROM BEHIND TO EARN FIRST AJGA VICTORY
Fox holds on to earn the win at Rancho Mirage
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Sean Collopy of Lake Oswego, Ore., snuck out from the middle of the pack to emerge the victor at the Ashworth Junior at Rancho Mirage on Sunday. With a tournament total of 142, Collopy edged out the Boys Division by two strokes. In the Girls Division, Sarah Fox of Santa Barbara, Calif., took home her first American Junior Golf Association victory after carding a tournament total of 150.
Conducted by the AJGA, the Ashworth Junior at Rancho Mirage was a 36-hole stroke play event held at The Westin Mission Hills Resort — Gary Player Signature Course. The tournament featured 66 boys and 17 girls, ages 12-18, from 12 states, including 65 from California, and Canada.
Starting the day at 4-over par, Collopy said he was hoping to shoot even par just to stay in the race. He was able to do better than that, shooting a 6-under-par 66 on Sunday to win his first AJGA tournament. The 16-year-old felt the momentum turn in his favor after making birdie on No. 8. He then went on to make another five straight birdies leaving him at 2-under for the tournament.
“I was making more putts today than on Saturday,” Collopy stated. “I was also driving the ball further off the tee, which does not hurt either.”
By placing first, Collopy earns two tournament exemptions as part of the AJGA's Performance Based Entry system. These exemptions will allow him the opportunity to enter AJGA Open events beginning next spring.
“I am really excited to play next year,” said Collopy. “It will be a great chance to play some good golf.”
Tied for second in the Boys Division were Ahron Valverde of Whittier, Calif., and Stephen Hale of Bakersfield, Calif., with tournament totals of 144. Ryan Sheffer of Tucson, Ariz., finished fourth with a 145, and Matthew Ouimet of Coto de Caza, Calif., came in fifth with a 146.
The Girls Division was a race to the finish as Fox began her day with a shaky front nine. Shooting 4-over par on the front, Fox felt her game begin to change as she made the turn. After tapping in a birdie putt on the par-5 No.17, the 16-year-old knew she could win.
“My confidence was high after No. 17,” said Fox. “I believed in my shots and knew that I could win.”
In addition to being the first win for Fox, it is also the first AJGA event that she has played in.
“When I first heard about the AJGA and all the great things it helps you do, I knew I wanted to win an event,” remarked Fox. “To be able to achieve my goal today is really big.”
Stephanie Arcala of Oceanside, Calif., finished one stroke back of Fox with a 151. Rounding out the top three in the Girls Division is Kaitlin Drolson of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., with a 153.
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 a junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 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 enters its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, David Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Beth Bauer.
For more information about the Ashworth Junior at Rancho Mirage, contact tournament AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.