FRANCIS GOES WIRE-TO-WIRE AT HEATHER FARR CLASSIC FOR FIRST AJGA VICTORY
Harigae overcomes deficit to claim first title at Longbow Golf Club
MESA, Ariz. — Two first-team Rolex Junior All-Americans captured their first American Junior Golf Association victories Sunday at the Heather Farr Classic in Mesa, Ariz. Philip Francis of Scottsdale, Ariz., fired a final-round 66 to finish at 12-under-par for the tournament. In the Girls Division, Mina Harigae of Monterey, Calif., caught fire during the middle portion of her final round, carding a 1-under-par 70 to finish the tournament at 4-under-par, enough for a one-shot win.
Conducted by the AJGA, the Heather Farr Classic was a 54-hole stroke play event held at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz. An Easter Weekend tradition, the Heather Farr Classic was staged in the Phoenix-area for the eighth consecutive year. One-hundred thirty-two junior golfers (ages 12-18) from 17 states, Canada and Mexico competed in the tournament. The field included 25 Rolex Junior All-Americans and boasts past champions such as Paula Creamer, Amanda Blumenherst and Hunter Mahan.
After recording eight top-five finishes in his AJGA career, Francis was able to earn his first victory just miles from his hometown of Scottsdale. Although Francis won by six shots, it appeared for a while that a challenger was coming out of the pack.
Roberto Galletti, Jr., of Clayton, Calif., was tied for 14th place after the second round, but an 8-under-par 63 that included six birdies and an eagle catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard, and Francis took notice.
“On No. 14 I heard that (Galletti, Jr.) shot 63,” Francis said. “I was 10-under-par at the time and I knew that if I kept playing how I was, I would be fine.”
Francis did just that on the back-nine, notching two birdies and an eagle on the par-4 17th hole in the midst of a back-nine 31, enough to comfortably claim the victory.
“It feels awesome to win this tournament,” Francis said. “I was 14 when I first played at the Heather Farr Classic, and that's when I really realized that I could play at this level.”
Galletti, Jr., finished in second at 6-under-par for the tournament. Jamie Lovemark of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., came in third with a 2-under-par 211, while David Hahn of Henderson, Nev., finished fourth at 1-under-par 212. Drew Kittleson of Scottsdale, the 2005 Heather Farr Classic champion, finished in a tie for fifth with Andrew Yun of Tacoma, Wash., at even-par 213.
In the Girls Division, Harigae started out slow Sunday, bogeying her first two holes and falling three shots off the pace set by second-round leader Esther Choe of Scottsdale, Ariz. However, the 16-year-old battled back, making birdies on five out of eight holes in the middle of her round to jump to the top of the leaderboard.
“I had a really bad start, but I finally made a birdie on No. 6,” Harigae said. “From there I just tried to play conservative.”
As Harigae was charging to the top, Choe bogeyed four out of six holes in the middle of her round, falling out of contention. Meanwhile, Kristen Schelling of Mesa, Ariz., took advantage of consistent play to challenge Harigae on the back-nine.
After making birdie on No. 16, Schelling found herself within one shot of Harigae. On No. 17, Harigae sank a 12-foot par putt to hold onto the lead going to last hole. Schelling missed a 30-foot birdie putt by mere inches, allowing Harigae to two-putt her way to her first AJGA victory.
“I knew a had to make the par putt on No. 17 or there was going to be a playoff,” Harigae said. “It feels so good to finally get my first win.”
Schelling finished at 3-under par for the tournament to finish second. Choe recorded a final-round 76 to finish in third place at 1-over-par for the tournament.
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 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, which is in its third decade of support, 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 compiles more than 300 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 Heather Farr Classic, please contact national headquarters at (770) 868-4200.