Ortiz captures first AJGA championship at the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship
Schmelzel goes wire-to-wire at Rivercut Golf Course
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Despite trailing by a single stroke entering final-round action Thursday, Alvaro Ortiz of Zapopan, Mexico, earned his first AJGA tournamennt victory as he finished at 8-under-par 208 in the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship. In the Girls Division, Sarah Schmelzel of Phoenix, Ariz., completed her wire-to-wire championship at Rivercut Golf Course as she finished the tournament at 6-under-par 210 en route to her first AJGA championship.
The Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship was a 54-hole stroke play event conducted by the American Junior Golf Association at Rivercut Golf Course in Springfield, Mo. The tournament field included 72 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18 from 19 states, China, Australia, Mexico, Taiwan and South Korea. The Boys Division played the par-72 course at 6,875 yards while the Girls Division played the course at 6,001 yards.
Oritz, who entered the final round tied for third, fired a final round 3-under-par 69, a round which included five birdies. Ortiz had earned two top-five finishes earlier this summer and now feels quite a sense of relief after earning his first championship honors.
“It's huge for me to win my first tournament,” Ortiz said. “I was just hoping to win since I've now been in four AJGA tournaments and have held the lead in three of them and wasn't able to hold on, so this win is very important for me.”
Surrendering his lead after the tournament's first two rounds was Wyatt Larkin of Morganton, Ga., who finished second at 5-under-par 211. Also falling from atop the leaderboard and finishing in a tie for third was Brendon Jelley of Tulsa, Okla., who finished at 4-under-par 212. Finishing tied with Jelley in third was Grant Hirschman of Collierville, Tenn., while Joey Johnson of Ozark, Mo., finished fifth at 3-under-par 213.
In the Girls Division, Schmelzel carded a final round 2-under-par 70 as she finished 12 strokes ahead of her nearest competitor. Schmelzel held the lead after every round of the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship as she fulfilled her pre-tournament goal of earning championship honors.
“My goal coming into this event was to win,” Schmelzel said. “This was my third year playing at this course and it is one of my favorite AJGA tournaments so I really set my sights on winning the championship.”
Schmelzel has twice finished second in AJGA tournaments including the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship last year. However, Schmelzel has patiently waited her turn as she earned her first AJGA championship in her final tournament of the summer.
“It feels really good to finally win and it is a big confidence boost knowing that I was able to finish with a low round today,” Schmelzel said. “I just kept the same attitude throughout the tournament and played my shots the same way each day which led me to not having to change my game plan throughout the week.”
Rounding out the top three in the Girls Division was Patricia Lee of Lone Tree, Colo., who finished second at 6-over-par 222 while Jordan Chael of Overland Park, Kan., finished third at 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 more than 40 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, 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 500 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Inbee Park and Morgan Pressel.
For more information about the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship contact Tournament Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.