KIM FIRES TOURNAMENT-LOW 67 TO CAPTURE BOYS DIVISION AT ROLEX TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Ellenbogen maintains lead to claim victory in Girls Division
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After carding 1-over-par 72s the first three rounds, Sihwan Kim of Buena Park, Calif., came out firing on the final day to finish with a 4-under-par 67 for a tournament total 1-under-par 283 and the win at the Rolex Tournament of Champions. Courtney Ellenbogen of Blacksburg, Va., shot 1-over-par 72 for the day to claim her second AJGA win and the title in the Girls Division with a tournament total even-par 284.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Rolex Tournament of Champions was a 72-hole stroke play event held at The Ohio State University Golf Club — Scarlet Course. The field was cut to 78 players after Wednesday's second round. The par-71 course was played at 7,346 yards in the Boys Division and 6,188 yards in the Girls Division. This year marked the 30th edition of the AJGA's flagship tournament. Past champions of this event included Esther Choe, Philip Francis, Charles Howell III, Jamie Lovemark, Phil Mickelson, Grace Park and Morgan Pressel.
Kim, who won the Mission Hills Desert Junior in June, said he came in somewhat confident but was concerned about a course he felt was very tough.
“The hole locations today were really hard, and we all had no choice but to play it safe and to the middle of the greens,” Kim said. “I never thought I could shoot this low. I thought 69 at best.”
Even though he carded 35 and 32 on the front and back nines, respectively, Kim said his day did not start out so well.
“After the first hole, with a three-putt for bogey, I didn't think I was going to do well,” Kim said. “I managed to keep it going though and just kept hitting it well and looking for par.”
Bound for Stanford in the fall, Kim credited his success to hard work and time spent learning the game in previous AJGA events.
“The experience I have gained here could not have been better or meant more to me,” Kim said.
By winning the Rolex Tournament of Champions, Kim claimed his eighth AJGA title, tying him for second all time with Bob May (1982-1987), Tiger Woods (1991-1992) and Charles Howell III (1992-1996). Phil Mickelson holds the record with 12 career AJGA wins (1985-1989).
Behind Kim in second place was John Popeck of Washington, Pa., with a tournament total 2-over-par 286. Luke Guthrie of Quincy, Ill., carded a 3-over-par 74 in the final round to finish in third place with a four-day total 4-over-par 288. In a three-way tie for fourth place, all carding 5-over-par 289 tournament totals, were William Kropp of Edmond, Okla., Alex Shi Yup Kim of Fullerton, Calif., and Peter Uihlein of Bradenton, Fla.
In the Girls Division, Ellenbogen continued her solid play throughout the final round, finishing the day and the tournament five strokes ahead of her next competitor. Despite her lead, Ellenbogen came into the day knowing it would take more than luck to win.
“I knew the other girls were really good and that I would have to take the win and not just let it come to me,” she said. “I knew they weren't just going to give it to me.”
After leading for the past two days, Ellenbogen said her putting continued to be a key aspect to her game and that she did notice a little pressure.
“It's always hard to play with a lead but I felt my game was good enough and strong enough to compete,” Ellenbogen said. “I've been working hard all summer so it's nice to see it all come together.”
Tied for second place behind Ellenbogen, with four-day totals of 5-over-par 289, were Kristen Park of Buena Park, Calif., and Vicky Hurst of Melbourne, Fla.
Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. Along with sponsoring the Rolex Tournament of Champions, Rolex is also the title partner of the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and the proprietors of the Rolex Junior All-America Teams.
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 25 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989.
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 Rolex Tournament of Champions, please contact National Headquarters at (877) 373-2542.