WRIGHT DODGES PLAYOFF TO WIN AJGA ANDOVER OPEN
Belcher overcomes nerves; wins first AJGA tournament
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Chase Wright of Muncie, Ind., held on to a three-stroke lead heading into the final round of the AJGA Andover Open. Wright won the tournament with a 9-under-par 207 giving him his first American Junior Golf Association win. Kellye Belcher of Bartlett, Tenn., also earned her first AJGA victory by scoring a 3-over-par 75 in the final round of play.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the AJGA Andover Open held at the Andover Golf & Country Club. Ninety-nine junior golfers from 17 states, 25 from Kentucky, competed in the 54-hole stroke-play event.
Wright had a 4-stroke lead over Alex Volpenhein of Edgewood, Ky., after nine holes as he posted 32 on the front nine. A two-shot swing on No. 16 and a bogey by Wright on No. 17 gave Wright a narrow one-stroke lead to start No. 18. Volpenhein had a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to tie Wright at 9-under-par. It ran long, giving Wright a three-foot putt for par to win.
“I knew he was going to hit it,” Wright said. “My hands were shaking. I just tried to stay calm and not think about it.”
Volpenhein finished second at 8-under-par for the tournament — a 5-under-par 67 in the final round. Thomas Buran of Scottsdale, Ariz., finished third with a 5-under-par 211. Fourth for the tournament was Kent Bulle of Glasgow, Ky., posting a score of 1-under-par 215. Fifth with a 1-over-par 217 was Sang Chun of Winter Springs, Fla.
Belcher, despite being 3-over-par in her final round, won by four strokes over Brianna Do of Lakewood, Calif. Belcher said she needed a little extra encouragement going in to her final round — she called her swing coach for advice.
“He told me not to go out thinking I had to win, just play my game,” she said.
Even with her coach's support and a two-stroke cushion heading into the last day, Belcher still could not shake her final-round jitters.
“Nerves got to me a lot today, especially on the front nine,” she said. “I've never won an AJGA tournament before and I wanted to do so well.”
Do scored 3-over-par for the tournament leading her to a second-place finish. Courtney Ellenbogen of Blacksburg, Va., finished third with a 5-over-par 221.
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 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, a supporter of the AJGA since 1983, 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, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Dottie Pepper, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Beth Bauer.
For more information about the AJGA Andover Open, call national headquarters at (770) 868-4200.