GRASSEL ONLY PLAYER TO BREAK PAR, EARNS MEDALIST HONORS IN HARBOR SPRINGS
Choi holds on to clinch Girls Division Qualifier at Boyne Highlands Resort
HARBOR SPRINGS, Mich. — Ryan Grassel of Chesterton, Ind., earned medalist honors in the Boys Division for the Coca-Cola Junior Championship at Boyne Highlands Tuesday, carding four birdies and 11 pars on his way to a 1-under-par 71. In the Girls Division, Alice Choi of Whitestone, N.Y., managed three birdies and nine pars to earn medalist honors amidst gorgeous conditions at the Moor Course.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the AJGA Qualifier for the Coca-Cola Junior Championship at Boyne Highlands was an 18-hole stroke play event held at the Boyne Highlands Resort — Moor Course. The 87-player field, consisting of 75 boys and 12 girls, featured players ages 12-18, from 14 states, Canada, South Korea and China. The Boys Division played the par-72 course at 6,850 yards while the Girls Division played at 6,104 yards.
Grassel, 16, had a foreboding start to his round after he scuffled to a bogey on the par-4 No. 13 (the Qualifier was a shotgun start). He managed to bounce back nicely however and after firing three birdies and three pars on his next seven holes, it was clear that Grassel was honed in and ready to earn medalist honors in his first career AJGA Qualifier. He locked up his sub-par round with an empathic birdie on the par-4 twelfth.
“On my last hole, I was 160 yards out and I decided to use my 9-iron,” Grassel said. “I managed to put it 15 feet behind the pin and then spin it back to within two feet. That shot was a great way to end my round.”
Deciding to take a Tournament Exemption rather than playing in this week's event, Grassel will not be part of the 144-player field for the Coca-Cola Junior Championship at Boyne Highlands. The 12 players who will fill out the Boys Division are Austin Kelly of Chatham, Ontario, Trevor Rosekrans of Haslett, Mich., Jayson Cronk of White Lake, Mich., Aaron Pontsler of Monclova, Ohio, Clayton Jones of Merton, Wis., Connor Cronkhite of Fairview, Pa., Brendan Jenkins of Dublin, Ohio, Stuart Pulkinen of Toronto, Ontario, Chris Noble of Niles, Mich., Michael Opsitnick of Avon, Ohio, Andrew Park of Seoul, South Korea, and Tommy Pendy of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.
Also qualifying but opting to take a Tournament Exemption rather than playing in the tournament were Alexander Bernstein of Northville, Mich., Shani Patel of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Trevor Grigg of Novi, Mich., Thomas Fredal of Clinton Township, Mich., and Guang Dian Huang of Cheng Du, China.
In the Girls Division, Choi, 16, was consistent enough throughout the round to earn the first Qualifier Series medalist honors of her young AJGA career. One of the few blips on her otherwise stellar day, a double bogey on the par-4 No. 13, was followed by a birdie and four pars, negating the bad hole and vaulting her to the top of the leaderboard. She never looked back, going on to medal in the Girls Division Qualifier by a comfortable four-stroke cushion.
“The course was really challenging, but a lot of fun,” Choi said. “The fairways were really narrow, but on my last hole I was able to make a 20-foot putt for birdie, so that definitely saved me.”
Joining Choi in the Girls Division of the tournament will be Nora Lucas of Glenview, Ill., and Somy Kim of Chicago. Opting to take a Tournament Exemption rather than playing was Emma Smyser of Naples, Fla.
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.
First-round tee times for the Coca-Cola Junior Championship at Boyne Highlands will run from 7:30 — 9:09 a.m. and 12:30 — 2:09 p.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tee at Boyne Highlands Resort — Moor Course Wednesday. For more information, please contact Tournament Director Whitney Ross at (770) 861-0519.