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The Westin Mission Hills Resort - Gary Player Course

Rancho Mirage, California

September 10-12, 2004



Californian wins by four strokes


RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Blake Yu of Alameda, Calif., fired a final round 3-under-par 69, to win the Ashworth Junior at Rancho Mirage. His tournament total of 138, 6-under-par, gave him a four shot victory over co-first round leader Kellen Watabu of Kapaa, Hawaii.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Ashworth Junior at Rancho Mirage was a 36-hole stroke play event, being held at The Westin Hills Resort – Gary Player Course, in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The tournament featured 81 of the nation’s premier junior golfers, ages 12-18. The Ashworth Junior Series was created specifically for first-time AJGA members or those who have not yet participated in an AJGA Open event, AJGA Invitational or Nike Golf Junior All-Star Series in the current calendar year or the previous calendar year.

Entering the final-round, Yu and Watabu were tied for the lead with Dylan Raines of Cave Creek, Ariz., after first round 69s. However, Yu and Watabu quickly made it a two-man race after their solid play on the front nine. Yu birdied two of his first three holes on his way to a front side 3-under-par 33. He would hit eight of the nine greens, making birdies on holes Nos. 1, 3, and 6. Watabu also played well on the front, shooting 2-under-par 34 with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9.

Watabu would take back the lead on No. 11 after he rolled in his birdie putt and Yu recorded a bogey after hitting his second shot into the water on the par-5. Yu would regain the lead on the next hole after he sank a 30-foot putt on the par-3 12th, combined with Watabu three-putting after hitting the green in regulation. Yu would never relinquish the lead, playing even-par golf the remaining six holes, for a backside 36.

“I putted really well today,” Yu remarked. “Whenever I made a bogey today I was able to recover on the next hole with a birdie. I stayed focus on what was ahead of me all week, rather than thinking about the last mistake.”

After working hard all summer on his game, the sixteen-year-old’s practice paid off with his first AJGA victory.

“It feels really good to win this event,” Yu said. “I am definitely the happiest person here.”

Watabu, who made the voyage from Hawaii to play in this event, was also pleased with his results.

“I feel good about the way I played this week,” Watabu commented. “I was a little frustrated after I triple bogeyed No. 14 because I knew I was still in contention. However, I was able to come back and hit my approach shot stiff on No. 18 for birdie.”     

Christopher Cunningham of San Diego, Calif., who came into the day one stroke behind the leaders, recorded an even-par 72 to finish in a second place tie with Watabu. For the round, Cunningham was able to hit 12 of the 14 fairways and only had 28 putts.

“My round was pretty consistent out there,” Cunningham commented. “I made three birdies and only had one mistake at the par-4 4th where I made double bogey.”

Watabu and Cunningham carded tournament totals of 142. Behind them in a tie for fourth were Ben Hayes of Carmichael, Calif., and Adam Barkow of Albany, Calif. The two shot matching second rounds of 1-under-par 71 and a two-day total of 143, 1-under-par.

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 has a 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, a supporter of the AJGA since 1983, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.

For more information on the Ashworth Junior at Rancho Mirage, please contact AJGA Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.