PAOLINI WINS TITLE IN PLAYOFF AT HORSESHOE BEND JUNIOR CLASSIC
Stewart captures Girls Division title for first AJGA win
ROSWELL, Ga. — Brinson Paolini of Virginia Beach, Va., defeated Michael Hebert of Orlando, Fla., and Corbin Mills of Easley, S.C., in a sudden-death playoff to win the Boys Division at the Horseshoe Bend Junior Classic Sunday. In the Girls Division, Alexandra Stewart of Carson City, Nev., carded a final-round 2-over-par 72 to finish at the top of the leaderboard with a total of 3-over-par 143.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Horseshoe Bend Junior Classic was a 36-hole stroke play event held at Horseshoe Bend Country Club. The tournament field consisted of 51 boys and 27 girls, ages 12 to 18, from 18 states, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Northern Ireland. The Boys Division played the par-70 layout at 6,610 yards, while the Girls Division played the course at 5,974 yards.
Paolini, 17, came from behind with a final round of 2-under-par 68. His charge came on the back nine, where he posted three birdies on Nos. 10, 11 and 13 for a 3-under-par 32 and shot his way into the playoff. Teeing off first in the playoff, Paolini's drive was the only one to find the fairway.
“During the playoff, I probably hit my best drive of the entire week,” Paolini said. “Straight down the middle and played a solid shot into the green. After Michael and Corbin hit in the water, I just wanted to get that first putt as close as possible. I didn't want to have three feet left for the win.”
A 2007 honorable mention Rolex Junior All-American, Paolini made par in the playoff to capture the first victory of his career.
“It feels amazing,” Paolini said. “I've been playing with the AJGA for almost four years now, so it's been a long time coming. But it just feels great.”
Mills, who carded Sunday's lowest round with a 3-under-par 67, finished tied for second with Hebert at even-par 140. Seth Reeves of Duluth, Ga., was fourth with a two-day total of 1-over-par 141. Smylie Kaufman of Birmingham, Ala., and Jay Vandeventer of Bristol, Tenn., rounded out the top five at 5-over-par 145.
The 16-year-old Stewart fired a 1-under-par 34 on the front nine to build a six-shot advantage. After Stacey Kim of Columbus, Ga., cut the lead to one shot heading into the final hole, Stewart held on with an up-and-down from just in front of the green. Her chip stopped one foot from the cup and she tapped in for the first win of her career.
“I knew that Stacey was only one back coming into No. 18 and that I needed par,” Stewart said. “It was a pretty routine chip. I've hit so many of them that I wasn't feeling much pressure. I just played.”
Kim carded a final round 1-over-par 71 to finish one stroke back with a two-day total of 4-over-par 144. Courtney Ellenbogen of Blacksburg, Va., rounded out the top three at 6-over-par 146.
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 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 Horseshoe Bend Junior Classic, please call AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.