YANG BATTLES TO THE END TO WIN RINGGOLD TELEPHONE COMPANY JUNIOR CLASSIC
Ardoin Wins Girls Division on No. 18, Chattanooga Native Mitchell Ties for Second in Boys Division
RINGGOLD, Ga. — Yao-Chun Yang of Troy, Mich., watched a four-shot lead on No. 13 become a one-shot lead heading to No. 18, but was able to hold off playing partner Jackson Beindorf of Vero Beach, Fla., for the win at 66-71-70-207. In the Girls Division, first-round leader Kyndall Ardoin of Gibsland, La., dropped a 7-foot putt on No. 18 to prevent a playoff with second-round leader Sherlyn Popelka of Reunion, Fla. Ardoin closed the tournament with a total of 65-72-75—212 to win by one.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Ringgold Telephone Company Junior Classic was held at WindStone Golf Club. The tournament field consisted of 71 boys and 27 girls, ages 12-18, from 17 states and China. The Boys Division was played at 6,484 yards and the Girls Division at 5,797 yards.
Yang and Beindorf battled through steady play on the front nine. Beindorf missed a 3-footer on No. 9 to give Yang a two-shot lead at the turn. Beindorf's misses continued on No. 10 after his tee shot went out-of-bounds on the right side. A birdie by Yang on No. 12 pushed his lead to four going to No. 13.
After an attempt to play it safe on No. 17, Yang put his approach shot on the par-5, 10 feet past the hole. When Beindorf barely missed holing out for an eagle on that same hole, Yang let his nerves kick in.
“I just couldn't get past how close that [Beindorf's third shot] was to going in,” Yang said. “I kept thinking about it and made a three-putt. When I got to No. 18, I told myself to be calm and I hit the fairway.”
After Beindorf hit an errant approach shot to the green, Yang regained confidence. “When Jackson pushed his second shot left of the green and mine was on the green, I had no more pressure,” he said.
Completing the top five in the Boys Division were Phillip Choi of Orlando, who shot a low round of the day at 66, Keith Mitchell of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Beindorf with three round totals of 1-under-par 209. Jade Scott of Daingerfield, Texas, finished fifth at 73-70-68—211.
In her first AJGA win, Ardoin too was feeling nerves. A familiar putt she remembered from the practice round put her nerves to rest, and gave her the championship.
“I was pretty confident on that last putt because I remembered it from the practice round,” she said. “Anything can happen on the final day, and it does. I'm excited though, I'm glad that putt fell.”
Rounding out the top three in the Girls Division was second-place Popelka with a three-round total of 68-68-77—213. Mariah Stackhouse of Riverdale, Ga., and Kristina Wong of Bradenton, Fla., tied for third at 214.
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 49 states and more than 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 about the Ringgold Telephone Company Junior Classic please contact AJGA National Headquarters at 770-868-4200 or visit the AJGA Web site at ajga.org.
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