ITTERMAN RALLIES FOR WIN WITH 4-UNDER-PAR 32 ON BACK NINE
Villela wins tournament, ties Diablo Grande Ranch Course women's record
DIABLO GRANDE, Calif. — Ben Itterman of Carlsbad, Calif., fired a final-round 1-under-par 71 to win the Nike Golf Junior at Diablo Grande with a 2-under-par tournament total of 214. Angela Villela of Pacoima, Calif., won the Girls Division title by shooting a 3-under-par 68 in the final round to end with a 2-over-par 215 tournament total.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Nike Golf Junior at Diablo Grande is being played at the Diablo Grande — Ranch Course. Sixty-four boys and 22 girls, ages 12 — 15, competed on the par-72 layout (par 71 for girls). Thirteen states and three countries are represented this week, including players from South Korea and China, with most juniors from California.
The Nike Golf Junior at Diablo Grande is part of the Nike Golf Junior All-Star Series. The Series is a collection of 10 events specifically designed for boys and girls ages 12 - 15 years old. The Series concludes with an invitation-only Nike Golf Junior Championship, Sept. 1 - 3, 2006.
Itterman began the day tied for the lead with Sam Smith of Turlock, Calif., at 1-under-par 143. After the front nine, Itterman found himself trailing Smith by three shots after Smith shot even-par 36 and Itterman struggled with a 3-over-par 39.
“I just tried to stay focused,” Itterman said. “I knew I wasn't that far behind, and I still had a chance.”
The 14-year-old proceeded to rattle off four birdies on the back nine. Itterman had just 11 putts over his final nine holes and only 25 for the whole round. With his come-back win, Itterman said his confidence is endless heading into his next event.
“This is huge. It makes me feel more confident with my putting,” Itterman said. “I just want to keep winning.”
Sam Smith of Turlock, Calif., finished in second place one stroke behind Itterman after shooting even-par 72 and ending with 1-under-par 215. Max Homa of Valencia, Calif., finished third at 217 while Steven Kearney of Carlsbad, Calif., and Taylor Travis of Fremont, Calif., tied for fourth with 218.
In the Girls Division, Villela overcame a three-stroke deficit at the start of her final round to capture the title. She found herself on the last hole of the day with a five-foot par putt to clinch the victory. If she missed, she was headed for playoff holes.
“I was just trying to stay calm,” Villela said. “I just tried telling myself, ‘It's like any other five-footer.'”
After she buried the putt in the middle of the cup, Villela had a 3-under-par 68 and had tied the Diablo Grande — Ranch Course's women's course record. Villela said she wanted to win for herself and another interested spectator.
“This means a lot,” she said. “My dad is always there for me, through good rounds and bad rounds.”
Joy Kim of Pinole, Calif., finished second with a final-round 1-over-par 72 and 216 tournament total. In a tie for third, Victoria Fallgren of Lakewood, Calif., and Ahnna Kim of Irvine, Calif., finished with 226.
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 50 states and 30 foreign countries.
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, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr, Candie Kung and Paula Creamer.
For more information on the Nike Golf Junior at Diablo Grande or any other tournaments, contact AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200, or visit the AJGA Web site at ajga.org.