LODGE LEADS WIRE TO WIRE TO WIN NIKE GOLF JUNIOR AT TOFTREES
Brown wins tournament posting the low final-round score in the Girls Division with 4-over-par 76
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Eric Lodge of Houston, won his first American Junior Golf Association tournament with a three-round total of 3-over-par 219. Thirteen-year-old Sarah Brown of Stewartsville, N.J., who recently came off a third-place finish at the Randall Parker Shootout at Wild Quail, battled a summer cold during the entire tournament, but still managed to secure her first AJGA victory with a tournament total of 226.
Conducted by the AJGA, the Nike Golf Junior at Toftrees was held at the Toftrees Golf Resort & Conference Center. Ninety-one junior golfers from 18 states and Ontario, including 19 from Pennsylvania, competed in the 54-hole stroke play event.
Lodge played in his first AJGA leader group in the final round of the tournament, but said he usually likes to be at least one group back chasing the leader.
“I usually try to make a charge at the end,” he said. “I had a different mentality today.”
Lodge managed a 70-76-73—219 finish after a birdie on No. 1 to start his final round. Only one other birdie followed on No. 15, but Lodge said his strategy this tournament was to just make pars. He also hit 11 fairways and 11 greens in the final round despite the difficult condition of the course.
“The course was playing really hard today,” he said. “The wind picked up toward the end and the greens were getting bumpy.”
Brothers Brewer and Thomas Bradshaw of Columbia, S.C., tied for second three strokes behind Lodge with 6-over-par 222s. Brewer posted the low final-round score with a 2-under-par 70. Tied in fourth place were Anthony Aloi of Plainsboro, N.J., and John Popeck of Washington, Pa., with 8-over-par 224s.
Brown, also playing in her first AJGA leader group, 3-over-par heading into No. 18 and hoping to par the hole, which would have given her scores of 75 for all three rounds of the tournament. She had a 10-foot putt for par to achieve that goal, but left it just inches short and tapped in for bogey.
“I was a little upset,” she said about missing the putt. “I wanted to give myself the consistency award for three 75s.”
Brown said not only was she missing putts on No. 18, but was struggling with putting the entire round, but said she managed a 4-over-par 76, three-day total of 226, because of accuracy off the tee and with shots to the green.
“I couldn't make a single putt out there,” she said. “But I hit almost every fairway and green in regulation. I was just relieved that I survived the last day. I just knew I had a one-stroke lead and had to play relatively well.”
Molly Plomaritis of Eden, N.C., trailed Brown by one stroke heading into the final round, but dropped to eight strokes behind the lead with a 234 tournament total to put her in second. Third in the Girls Division with a 78-80-79—237 was Margaret Pentrack of Pittsburgh, Pa.
The Nike Golf Junior Series was created in 1998 to give younger AJGA members more opportunities to play competitive golf. This collection of events, designed for boys and girls ages 12 - 15, was a resounding success in its first year and it expanded to eight events in 2003. In 2005, there are 10 tournaments which feature three rounds of stroke play competition and a Day of Education organized by AJGA staff.
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 on the Nike Golf Junior at Toftrees, please contact National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.