Hole-in-One Caps Benitez's Wire-to-Wire Victory at Sweetwater Country Club's Pecan Course
Ferguson comes back to claim second-straight AJGA Championship at AJGA Houston Junior
SUGAR LAND, Texas — While temperatures cooled off, Juan Benitez of Puebla, Mexico, was only heating up. Benitez finished off the AJGA Houston Junior with a 6-under-par 66 in the final round, bringing his tournament total to 10-under-par 206. In the Girls Division, Courtney Ferguson of Houston claimed her second AJGA Championship of the summer, coming back from one-stroke down to finish the tournament at 6-over-par 222.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the AJGA Houston Junior was a 54-hole stroke play event, held at Sweetwater Country Club's Pecan Course in Sugar Land, Texas. The 98-player field featured 75 boys and 23 girls from 11 states, as well as Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Guatemala, Colombia, China and Australia. The boys played the course at 7,052 yards, and the girls played the course at 6,233 yards.
Leading by just one stroke coming into the final round, Benitez felt the pressure to maintain the lead, but somehow regained his composure to finish the round with no bogeys.
“Headed into the back nine I was really feeling the pressure,” Benitez said. “I was only one shot ahead of my competitors, but I controlled my nerves and just kept making shots.”
A hole-in-one on No. 16 highlighted a great day of play. The 193-yard hole marked Benitez's second ever hole-in-one, but it was this shot that helped Benitez secure the win by 7 strokes.
“This hole-in-one felt better because it was longer than my last one,” Benitez said. “It was a really nice way to cap off one of my last tournaments of the summer.”
Roman Robledo of Harlingen, Texas, finished second with a tournament total 3-under-par 213, followed by Jeffrey Merrell of Aledo, Texas, who shot a 1-under-par 215. Hometown native Andrew Rostek finished in fourth with an even-par 216. Rounding out the leaderboard in fifth place was Jeff Wibawa of Encino, Calif., with a 1-over-par 217.
With one tournament win already under her belt, Ferguson, who has verbally committed to Oklahoma State University, felt like she still had more to prove. She started the round out with two consecutive birdies, and then finished the final hole with a bogey, but it was still enough to help her snatch the lead by one-stroke.
“It is a lot different when you have to fight hard and come back to win. It felt good to hold my own, though, and show that my first win wasn't a fluke,” Ferguson said. “Winning two AJGA tournaments in a row is incredible.”
After shooting a low final round score of even-par 72, Tezira Abe of Angleton, Texas, shot up to second place with a tournament total of 7-over-par 223. Rounding out the Girls Division leaderboard in third place was Bethany Wu of Diamond Bar, Calif., with a tournament total 9-over-par 225.
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 provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 30 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.
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. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 400 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.
For more information about the AJGA Houston Junior, please contact AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.