YATES COMES FROM SEVEN STROKES BACK TO WIN ELBIT SYSTEMS OF AMERICA JUNIOR GOLF CLASSIC
Kim prevails in playoff to win at Southern Oaks Golf Club
FORT WORTH, Texas — Gregory Yates of Mansfield, Texas, fired a final round 7-under-par 65 to take the win at the Elbit Systems of America Junior Golf Classic with a tournament total of 7-under-par 209. Lauren Kim of Los Altos, Calif., carded a 1-under-par 71 to come from behind and force a playoff to win the Girls Division at Southern Oaks Golf Club.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Elbit Systems of America Junior Golf Classic was a 54-hole stroke play event with a 36-hole cut held at Southern Oaks Golf Club. The tournament field featured 143 boys and girls, ages 12-18, from 13 states, Mexico, Canada and New Zealand. The Boys Division played the par-72 course at 7,154 yards, while the Girls Division is played it at 6,084 yards.
Yates started the day with a two-day total of even-par 144 and seven shots back of first and second-round leader Alejandro Villasana of Hacienda Las Misiones, Mexico. As Yates teed off No. 1 in the third to last group, the thought crossed his mind that if he shot well enough he might have a chance at winning his first AJGA title. Little did he know he would start the day by carding birdies on four of his first five holes, consecutive from Nos. 2 - 5. The 18-year-old hit his tee shot on the par-3 No. 3 to one foot from the flagstick and tapped it in for birdie to get his round rolling. After making the turn with a 4-under-par 32, Yates continued to make birdies on the back nine and walked up to No. 17 looking for a bit of redemption.
“I had bogeyed Nos. 17 and 18 all week,” Yates said. “I was able make pars on both today. I was really proud of the way I played and I was able to finally figure out the greens here at the course. Winning feels great.”
Villasana finished in second with a 6-under-par 210. Tied for third at 4-under-par 212 were Andrew Presley of Fort Worth, Texas, and Kolton Crawford also of Mansfield. Rounding out the Boys Division leaderboard in a four-way tie for fifth was Ryan Howard of The Woodlands, Texas, Scott McAlpine of Auckland, New Zealand, Brandon Lau of Sugar Land, Texas, and Eli Mattioli of Fayetteville, Ark., each with a 1-over-par 217.
In the Girls Division, Kim began the day two shots back of second-round leader Marijosse Navarro of San Antonio. The 14-year-old did not find herself in the best position sitting 3-over par after six holes. However, she found a way to keep herself calm and focused and carded four birdies between Nos. 7 and 15. Kim used her putting, her weapon for the day, to record two more birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 to tie with Navarro going into the scoring tent, each with a tournament total of 1-under-par 215.
“I didn't even know how I was doing compared to her,” Kim said. “My dad informed me as I was walking into the tent, but I was still kind of unsure.”
As Kim and Navarro set out for a playoff on No. 10, Kim was able to keep the nerves from getting to her and told herself to just stick it on the green and trust that her putting would take over. Kim had no idea how much she would have to trust the one thing that she felt worked for her all day.
“We both made the green in two and my ball was sitting about 30 feet from the hole,” Kim said. “It was a downhill putt and I actually hit it harder than I meant to. I was so nervous because it was going so fast but the next thing I knew it dropped in for birdie and my heart just jumped. It was such a lucky putt.”
Navarro parred the playoff hole and took home second. Kaira Martin of Paradise Valley, Ariz, and Kayli Quinton of Cypress, Texas, tied for third each with 3-over-par 219s respectively.
Elbit Systems of America is a leading provider of high performance products and system solutions focusing on the commercial aviation, defense, homeland security, and medical instrumentation markets. With facilities throughout the United States, Elbit Systems of America is dedicated to supporting those who contribute daily to the safety and security of the United States. Elbit Systems of America, LLC is wholly owned by Elbit Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: ESLT), a global electronics company engaged in a wide range of programs for innovative defense and commercial applications. This is the third year that Elbit Systems of America has supported this DFW-area 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 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 350 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 Elbit Systems of America Junior Golf Classic, please contact AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.