KAUFMAN CROWNED CHAMPION AT AJGA JUNIOR AT STEELWOOD PRESENTED BY AT&T
Ruengmateekhun bests field by three to win first AJGA event
LOXLEY, Ala. — Smylie Kaufman of Birmingham, Ala., overcame a three-stroke deficit and carded a final-round even-par 72 and a tournament total of 1-over-par 217 to win the Boys Division by one stroke at the AJGA Junior at Steelwood presented by AT&T. In the Girls Division, Amy Ruengmateekhun of Garland, Texas also shot a final-round even-par 72 to claim victory at Steelwood Country Club.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the AJGA Junior at Steelwood presented by AT&T featured 78 players from 13 states and Canada. The field consisted of 54 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18. The Boys Division played the par-72 Steelwood Country Club Course at 7,001 yards, while the Girls Division played the course at 6,043 yards.
Kaufman was challenged most of the day by hometown favorite and childhood friend, Bobby Wyatt of Mobile, Ala., who made a valiant effort on the final hole, carding a birdie and forcing Kaufman to make par to secure the tournament.
“It was definitely a long hole,” Kaufman said with a laugh. “We both hit some awful shots out there today. I didn't hit the ball particularly well all week, but I found a way to score.”
In addition to his first AJGA win, Kaufman is the recipient of the 2008 Presidents' Youth Leadership Award. The honor is given by the United States Golf Association and the AJGA Youth Leadership Club to a player who demonstrates leadership, character and community service through his or her involvement with the club. Kaufman earned the honor for his creation of the Kids vs. Cancer campaign, a crusade to raise money for cancer patients at his local children's hospital. Kaufman also earned an invitation to the Rolex Tournament of Champions and will receive his award during the Rolex Dinner of Champions Thursday, July 3, 2008.
Wyatt finished with a tournament total of 2-over-par 218, and tied for second place with Cyril Suk of Bradenton, Fla., who shot a final-round 1-under-par 71. Lewis Gruber of Tallahassee, Fla., and Taylor Szyndlar of Jupiter, Fla., finished tied for fourth place with three-round totals of 7-over-par 223.
In the Girls Division, Ruengmateekhun played a steady round of golf, carding only three bogeys and recording three birdies on Nos. 4, 9 and 15. Ruengmateekhun's goal for the day was to play smart.
“I missed a five-foot putt for birdie on No. 14,” Ruengmateekhun said. “But I made a long putt on No. 15 for birdie, so then I just wanted to play safe the last three holes.”
Ginger Howard of Bradenton, Fla., shot 3-over-par 75 in the final round to take second place with a tournament total of 10-over-par 226. First-round leader Simin Feng of Orlando, Fla., shot 72-80-75 to finish in third place with a tournament total of 11-over-par 227 for the event.
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 an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 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 AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
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 about the AJGA Junior at Steelwood presented by AT&T, please contact AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.