MCINERNEY CLINCHES WIN ON NO. 18 TO REPEAT AT JUNIOR ALL-STAR AT LAKE HAVASU
Kim breaks second-round tie to take Girls Division by one stroke at The Refuge Golf Club
LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — Defending champion AJ McInerney of Henderson, Nev., dunked a 15-foot putt on No. 18 for birdie to claim the Junior All-Star at Lake Havasu by one shot. Lauren Kim Los Altos, Calif., shot a 7-over-par 79 to place first in the Girls Division with a three-day total of 225.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Junior All-Star at Lake Havasu featured 52 boys and 14 girls — ages 12-15 — from 15 states and Canada. The Boys Division played the course at 6,801 yards, while the girls played the course at 5,935 yards.
McInerney's three-day total was a 211 after carding a 4-over-par 76 in the final round. In 2007, McInerney shot a tournament total 210 to best his competitors by three strokes. This year's gap was much narrower.
With a three-way tie coming down No. 18 and wind gusts reaching 20 mph, a repeat was anything but certain.
“I started to feel like I was starting playing defensive instead of playing like I had the whole week,” McInerney said. “I told myself to just start making birdies.”
McInerney's personal pep talk came at the right time on No. 18 where his birdie putt ended his day one stroke ahead of the field.
“I saw the other two boys both go long on No. 18 because it's so much downwind under that back hill,” McInerney said. “I tried to leave it short of the flag so it would at least be on the green.”
McInerney tallied one birdie and an eagle in his final round of play.
Jordan Gilmore of Sparks, Nev., and Michael Decker of Dallas, tied for second with three-day totals of 4-under-par 212. Alberto Sanchez of Nogales, Ariz., came in fourth with 1-under-par 215. Rounding out the top five for the Boys Division was Sean Kelly of Bradenton, Fla., with a 2-over-par 218.
The Girls Division was also a close match through 36 holes. With a tie going into the final round, Kim was focused on aligning her shots with the hole and staying focused throughout the day.
“I told myself to stay clam,” said Kim. “I didn't worry about who was going to win, just play my best and see what happens.”
Kim battled the windy conditions well throughout the day, staying close to par on the front nine and making a birdie on the par-5 No. 2 to take home her first AJGA title.
“I'm very proud of myself,” said Kim. “It means a lot to me because I worked pretty hard to get her and now I have confidence that I can compete with the best.”
In second for the Girls Division was Lily Bartell of Cave Creek, Ariz., who finished one stoke behind Kim with a three-day total of 226. Gabriella Then of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., rounded out the top three with a tournament total of 229.
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 49 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 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 Junior All-Star at Lake Havasu, please contact AJGA Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.