LONG GOES THE DISTANCE TO TAKE WIN IN SPRINGFIELD
Thead reels in first victory after sudden-death playoff
SPRINGFIELD, Mo — The final-round leaderboard at the end of the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship Thursday looked much like it did at the end of the first and second rounds, with Jace Long of Dixon, Mo., holding the top spot. Long carded a final-round 2-under-par 70 to finish the tournament with a three-day total of 8-under-par 208 to bring home the wire-to-wire victory. In the Girls Division, Julia Thead of Poway, Calif., held on in a sudden-death playoff after firing a tournament-total 1-over-par 217 to win her first AJGA event.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship was a 54-hole stroke play event held at Rivercut Golf Course. The 98-player field featured players from 18 states. The par-72 course was played at 6,927 yards for the Boys Division and 6,011 yards for the Girls Division.
Long, who held a three-shot lead after Wednesday's second round, made no changes in his game coming into the final round. He said he stayed aggressive and tried not to let his spot on top of the Boys Division get to his head.
“Today I just went out and had fun,” Long said. “I was relaxed, confident and I played my game. I went and played the course like I had been and it worked out because I've just been hitting the ball so well.”
The win, Long's second of 2007 and fourth in his AJGA career, felt especially good Long said because it was in his home state.
“It's an exciting way to end the summer for me before school starts,” Long said. “I look forward to having a little break and playing in the fall invitationals.”
In second place in the Boys Division was Bradley Moody of Jefferson City, Mo., who ended with a tournament total 4-under-par 212. Andy Hogenmiller of Washington, Mo., finished with a three-day total of 3-under par 213 to take third place. In fourth with a tournament total of 1-under-par 215 was Chris Worrell of Enid, Okla. Daily Young of Springfield, Mo., Colton Staggs of Tulsa, Okla., Tyler Mitchell of Cadiz, Ky., and Talor Gooch of Midwest City, Okla., all finished tied for fifth with tournament totals of even-par 216.
Thead, who finished her round with a 7-over-par 79, came into the final round holding a three-stroke lead over Kristen Schelling of Mesa, Ariz. Schelling, who shot a final-round 4-over-par 76 for a three-day total of 1-over-par 217, caught up with Thead on No. 15. The two headed to the par-5 No. 10 for a sudden-death playoff, and after Schelling hit into the lateral water hazard on her second shot Thead said she knew what she had to do to hang on for the win.
“I just went in and played it safe,” Thead said. “I didn't try to be aggressive after that, I didn't even go for my birdie putt. I just went in and got par and got the win.”
Thead claimed her first AJGA Open Event victory after finishing in the top 10 six times previously in her career.
“It is so exciting to finally get a win,” Thead said, “It is a big relief having it out of the way and not having to think about it.”
Behind Schelling in the Girls Division tied for third were Kamryn Ruffin of Pryor, Okla., and Seo Hee Moon of Mukilteo, Wash., who both finished with 10-over-par 226s.
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, the largest Association of its kind, has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 25 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 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 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 on the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship, please contact National Headquarters at (877) 373-2542.