Cole Hammer of Houston, won the prestigious Azalea Invitational in a playoff over Hugo Bernard of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, and fellow AJGA junior Joseph Pagdin of (United Kingdom) Orlando, Florida. Hammer and Pagdin finished T2 at the 2017 Azalea Invitational and returned this year in search of redemption. Hammer entered the final round with a two-stroke lead over Bernard, with Pagdin in shouting distance. Hammer stretched his lead to six strokes at one point in the round, but his final-round 1-under-par 70 wasn’t enough to seal the deal as Bernard carded a 3-under-par 68 and Pagdin fired a bogey-free 5-under-par 66 to match Hammer at 11-under-par 273 after 72 holes. Despite relinquishing his lead, Hammer held his composure and secured the victory with a birdie on the first hole of the playoff. Hammer, who signed a National Letter of Intent with the University of Texas at Austin, is No. 23 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and has been a Rolex Junior All-American the last three years. The senior finished T7 at the AJGA Simplify Boys Championship at Carlton Woods in February.
Ramya Meenakshisundaram of Jacksonville, Florida, won the Florida Junior Tour at Eagle Harbor GC (16-18) by three strokes over fellow AJGA junior Jinyu Wu of Bradenton, Florida. Meenakshisundaram opened the tournament with a 2-over-par 74 that included two birdies. That was enough for a one-stroke lead after the first round. The University of South Florida verbal commit secured the victory with her final-round 2-under-par 70, which was the lowest of the tournament. The senior has one AJGA victory, which came at the 2015 Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Preseason Junior at Innisbrook.
Jason Beveridge of Houston, won his first AJGA event with a final-round surge at the AJGA Preview at Bentwater (Ages 12-15). Beveridge, who started the day eight strokes off the lead, mounted the comeback victory behind a final-round 5-under-par 67 that included six birdies. That round matched the lowest of the tournament. The 13-year-old won by one stroke at a tournament total of 2-under-par 142.
Rose Zhang of Irvine, California, came from behind to win her first AJGA Invitational at the 2018 ANA Junior Inspiration. Zhang trailed second-round leader Ashley Menne of Surprise, Arizona, by three strokes entering the final round, but that gap was quickly erased after Zhang birdied two holes on her front nine. The 14-year-old would secure the victory after adding two more birdies on the back nine, including on the final hole of the day. Zhang’s final-round 3-under-par 69 matched the lowest round of the day. The 2017 First Team Rolex Junior All-American owns two AJGA Open victories along with the 2016 Junior PGA Championship – Girls title.