SCOTTSDALE NATIVES MCKENNEY, KARLE WIN AT PING PHOENIX JUNIOR
McKenney secures first AJGA victory
TEMPE, Ariz. Tim McKenney of Scottsdale, Ariz., fired a 4-under-par 67 to win the Boys Division by three strokes at the PING Phoenix Junior on Sunday with a tournament total 13-under-par 200. Taylore Karle, also of Scottsdale, Ariz., clinched the Girls Division with a birdie on the 18th hole for a 1-under-par 70 and tournament total 8-under-par 205.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the PING Phoenix Junior was a 54-hole stroke play event held at the ASU Karsten Golf Course. The tournament featured 63 boys and 21 girls, ages 12-18, from 18 states, Canada and Mexico.
McKenney, who entered the final round with a one stroke lead, knew the key to staying in contention would be to hit fairways and greens and create birdie opportunities. Although nervous at the start of the day, the 17-year-old grew more comfortable as he played the front nine, carding eight pars and draining a 35-foot putt for birdie on the par-3 sixth hole.
I played more tentative than I had all week on the front, McKenney said. I started to really rock n roll on the back.
McKenney indeed stepped up his game on the back side. He birdied No. 11 and sunk a three-foot putt on No. 14 for eagle. McKenney followed with another birdie on the 15th hole, and carded pars on the final three holes for the win. This is the first AJGA victory for McKenney, who has given a verbal commitment to play for the University of Florida beginning in 2006.
Roberto Galletti, Jr., of Clayton, Calif., finished with a tournament total 10-under-par 203 for sole possession of second place. Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, Calif., took third place with a three-day total 9-under-par 204. Spencer Anderson of Pacific Palisades, Calif., finished in fourth place with a three-day total 6-under-par 207, and Brad Nicholson of Chandler, Ariz., took fifth place with a tournament total 5-under-par 208.
Karle headed into the final round with a one stroke lead over Angela Park of Torrance, Calif. The 15-year-old felt confident in her game and was steady on the front nine, carding eight pars and one birdie for a 33.
I think what worked best today was my attitude, Karle said. I never got down on myself and I told myself I could make every shot. There were a few shots mixed in that I should have made, but I feel I played really solidly.
Karle had trouble keeping that momentum going at the beginning of the back side, missing birdie opportunities on Nos. 10 and 11 and making double bogey on No. 12. She was able to regain her composure, sticking her approach shot on No. 14 four feet from the hole and nailing the short birdie putt. She made pars on Nos. 15 and 16, and drained a 2-foot birdie putt on 17, which put Karle and Park tied for the lead heading down the 18th fairway. Karle hit her approach shot 15 feet from the flagstick and sunk the putt for birdie and the win.
It is definitely special to win at home, Karle said. My high school coach and teammates came out to support me and that meant a lot.
The win is Karle's second AJGA victory of the season. She won the 2005 Randy Smith Classic presented by Myco Industries, Inc., in Lubbock, Texas.
Park finished with a tournament total 7-under-par 206 for sole possession of second place. Patty Chawalitmetha of Bellflower, Calif., and Kimberly Kim of Pahoa, Hawaii, tied for third place with three-day totals of 3-under-par 210.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501c(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 200 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 280 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 PING Phoenix Junior, contact national headquarters at (770) 868-4200.