ABILENE, Texas- Two out-of-state boys bested a field loaded with Texans to qualify and earn co-medalist honors at Fairway Oaks Country Club on Sunday. Nicholas Brady of Los Alamos, N.M., and Joshua Chen of Lake Forest, Calif., shot matching scores of 1-under-par 71 on their way to the low rounds of the day. Sara Hemingway of Kingwood, Texas, shot a 6-over-par 78 to win the Girls Division by two shots.
The 18-hole Srixon Qualifier was conducted by the American Junior Golf Association at Fairway Oaks Country Club in Abilene, Texas. One hundred juniors representing six states competed for entry into the Abilene Reporter-News/Lawrence Hall Abilene Junior, which starts Tuesday.
Chen, who made five birdies during his round, said putting good all day was his key to sinking birdies and saving pars.
“I feel I have an advantage now going into the tournament because I'll know the course very well,” said Chen, who tied for the day's low round despite playing his final three holes in 3-over-par.
Brady, who was paired with Chen during their round, said getting up and down for pars after missed greens kept his score low all day.
“There are so many good players in this field, my goal is to keep improving and qualify for as many tournaments as possible,” Brady said.
Brady will not play in this week's tournament, instead choosing to use the exemption he earned to gain entry into a future AJGA event.
Robert Mayo of Austin, Texas, finished alone in third with a qualifying score of even-par 72. Keith Becker, Jr. of San Antonio, Texas, and Drew Evans of Dallas qualified with scores of 2-over 74. Taylor Diepholz of Irving, Texas, Shane McDonald of Mansfield, Texas, Tyler Sheppard of Midland, Texas, and Seth White of Mansfield, Texas, will all play this week after shooting 75. Rounding out the tournament field after scores of 4-over-par 76 are Jonathan Alden of Austin, Texas, Coy Beck of Canyon Lake, Texas, Drew Bell of Midland, Texas, Ryan Felix of Tucson, Ariz., Kyle Finkler of Wichita Falls, Texas, Carson Gibson of San Antonio, Texas, and Phillip Krebsbach of San Antonio, Texas.
Blaine Weiterman of Kilgore, Texas, and Justin Jang of Lawton, Okla., shot rounds of 75 and 76, respectively, but will use the exemption they earned at Sunday's qualifier for toward into a future AJGA event.
Hemingway was able to blow away the Girls Division even though she said the breezy conditions of West Texas are not what she is used to.
“I feel very confident going into the tournament because I know I can play even better than I did today,” Hemingway said.
Hemingway's 4-iron from 180 yards on the tenth-hole landed four feet away, setting up a birdie and jump-starting her round.
“After that shot I played well the rest of the way,” she said.
Also earning their way into the Girls Division this week is Amy Glazer of Southlake, Texas, with an 81. Caitlin Bliss of Katy, Texas, and Mandie Hamilton of Huntsville, Texas, qualified with rounds of 83. Allison Itria of Lubbock, Texas, is in the field after an 86, as is Alex Smith of Decatur, Texas, with an 87. Claire Wolfe of Lubbock, Texas, qualified with an 88.
Mei Liu of Austin, Texas, and Kaira Martin of Paradise Valley, Ariz., shot qualifying scores of 80 but will use the exemption earned toward entry into a future AJGA event. Suzanne Ervin of Schertz, Texas, and Kinne Schwartz of McKinney, Texas, will also opt out of the Abilene event and use her exemption toward entry into future events after shooting 84.
SRIXON Sports USA, Inc., based in Norcross, Ga., has been distributing premium golf balls and equipment in the U.S. since 1997 and is a subsidiary of SRI Sports. SRI Sports is one of the world's leading patent holders in golf ball technology and manufactures several golf balls played in the United States. SRI Sports-made balls have won 73 PGA TOUR events since 1989, including seven majors. For more information about SRIXON, please visit www.srixon.com.
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.
The first round of the Abilene Reporter-News/Lawrence Hall Abilene Junior begins Tuesday at 7 a.m. off the No. 1 tee at Fairway Oaks Country Club. For more information, call tournament headquarters at (325) 698-4971 ext.218.