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Mission Hills Country Club - Palmer Course
Rancho Mirage, Calif. • June 23 - 26

Valerio picks up first AJGA win at Mission Hills Country Club

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos, Calif., and Veronica Valerio of Temecula, Calif., both jumped into the greenside pond on No. 18 in celebration of their victories at the ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior on Thursday. Cantlay finished with a three-day tournament total of 7-under-par 209 in the Boys Division while Valerio carded a 1-over par 217 to win the Girls Division by three strokes.

The ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior is a 54-hole stroke play tournament conducted by the American Junior Golf Association at Mission Hills Country Club — Dinah Shore Tournament Course. The tournament field consisted of 57 boys and 20 girls, ages 12-18, from five states, including 70 from California. The Girls Division played the par-72 course at 6,141 yards while the Boys Division played at 7,036 yards.

The longest consecutive running AJGA event at the same venue, the ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior boasts past champions such as Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Bob May, Kevin Na, Danielle Ammaccapane, Brandi Burton, Emilee Klein, Kellee Booth and Grace Park. These professionals all played in — and won — the ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior before making household names for themselves at the amateur, collegiate and professional levels.

Cantlay was tied going into Thursday's final round and then found himself in a playoff with Daniel Lee of Valencia, Calif., upon finishing 18 holes.

“It's probably the most pressure that I have ever been under,” Cantlay said.

Both Cantlay and Lee made par on No. 18 and had to replay the par-5, 618-yard hole to break the tie. On the second trip coming down the fairway, both pared the hole, forcing them to continue the sudden-death playoff in the desert heat of Rancho Mirage. Lee's second shot down the fairway careened into the lateral water hazard, giving Cantlay an opportunity to end the playoff. Lee missed a 10-foot putt for par while Cantlay safely two-putted to clinch the victory.

Lee carded a three day total of 7-under-par 209, shooting a final round low of 4-under-par 68 to place second. Andrew Perez of Oxnard, Calif., finished the tournament in third with 212, also shooting a 4-under-par 68 in the final round. Steven Kearney of Carlsbad, Calif., carded a tournament total of 3-under-par 213 to place fourth and John Young Kim of Los Alamitos, Calif., placed fifth with a 1-over-par 217.

For the girls, Valerio was excited for her first AJGA victory and credited her solid play to sticking her approach shots. She also birdied three times to contribute to her successful round.

“It feels awesome,” Valerio said. “This tournament was a lot of fun and the competition was good.”

Emily Tubert of Burbank, Calif., and Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif., both shot a tournament total of 4-over-par 220 to tie for second place.

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 a junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 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 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 on the ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior, please contact AJGA Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.