GOOCH SHOOTS 5-UNDER-PAR 67 TO MEDAL AT DODGE/BOB ESTES ABILENE JUNIOR QUALIFIER
Song cards 73 to top Girls Division in Abilene
ABILENE, Texas — Despite a two hour weather delay, Talor Gooch of Midwest City, Okla., finished with a three-stroke lead over second-place qualifier Jeremy Lambright of Palestine, Texas, to top the Boys Division Monday. In the Girls Division, Rebecca Song of Fullerton, Calif., shot a 1-over-par 73 to advance to the Wednesday tournament.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Srixon Dodge/Bob Estes Abilene Junior Qualifier was held at Fairway Oaks Country Club. The par-72 course was set up at 7,005 yards for the Boys Division and 6,042 yards for the Girls Division. The tournament field consisted of 79 boys and 20 girls, ages 12-18, from 10 states and included 70 Texas residents.
In his first-ever qualifier, 14-year-old Gooch dominated the Fairways Oaks course, taking particular command over the long-yardage holes.
“I took advantage on the par-5s today,” said Gooch. “I shot 4-under combined, making an eagle on No. 14 and birdies on the other three.”
Gooch carded 34 on the front nine and 33 on the back nine, ending the qualifier with a 5-under-par 67. Excited to have played well and to earn an exemption, Gooch hopes to play solid all three tournament rounds by staying consistent.
“I plan to go out and do what I did today,” Gooch added. “I want to play well and let the scores take care of themselves.”
Ten additional boys also qualified for the tournament. Lambright shot a 2-under-par 70 to finish tied for second. Andrew Green of Edmond, Okla., shot a 1-under-par 71 ending in fourth position. Clark Collier of Edmond, Okla, and Jerry Holguin of San Antonio, Texas, shot even-par 72s, and rounding out all qualifiers, shooting 1-over-par 73 was Brian O'Regan of Walnut Creek, Calif., Thomas Birdsey of The Woodlands, Texas, Brad Lyle of Richardson, Texas, Zac Denison of Edmond, Okla., Brian Benshoof of McKinney, Texas, and Dillon Rust of Edmond, Okla.
Four additional boys carded scores that would have qualified, had they not chosen to opt out of the tournament, and take a tournament exemption. Chase Anderson of San Antonio, shot a 2-under-par 70, Justin Lavine of Sugarland, Texas, carded a 72 and Nathan Chambers of Purcell, Okla., and Jacob Simon of Oklahoma City, Okla., scored 73s.
In the Girls Division, Song, 15 made birdie on hole Nos. 2, 7, 12 and 18 to score 73 overall. In only her third year playing golf, Song credited her low score to recently adjusting her putting game.
“All the putts were going exactly where I wanted them to go,” said Song. “I was focusing more than usual on the greens. I recently changed my mentality while putting and just applied it today on the course and it worked.”
Other qualifiers are Mary-Michael Burns of Baton Rouge, La., who carded a 75, Brooke Baker of Edmond, Okla., who shot 76 and Suzanne Ervin of Schertz, Texas, who carded a 77.
Caitlyn Jeffery of San Antonio qualified for the tournament after shooting 74, but took a tournament exemption to forego playing in 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 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.
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 srixon.com.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which enters 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 compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Candie Kung, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer.
Tee times will run from 7 a.m. — 12:51 p.m. off the No. 1 tee at Fairway Oaks Country Club on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. For more information on the Dodge/Bob Estes Abilene Junior, please call AJGA tournament headquarters at (325) 698-4971, ext. 218, or visit ajga.org.