Both the Georgia PGA and Georgia State Golf Association held their junior championships recently, with the Georgia PGA playing its Junior Championship at the Legends at Chateau Elan and GSGA playing its Junior Championship at Augusta Country Club, with the girls playing at Harbor Club.
Rome’s Hogan Ingram rallied with a pair of late birdies in the final round of the Georgia PGA Junior Championship to overtake Georgia Tech signee Andy Mao. Ingram posted scores of 70-75-70 for a 1-under 215 total, two shots ahead of Mao.
Sara Im of Duluth ran away with the girls title, winning by 13 shots at 3-under 213 with scores of 69-73-71.Gainesville’s MIkayla Dubnik placed second at 226.
Ingram shared the lead after one round with Eatonton’s Ryan Smith and Johns Creek’s Bruce Murphy, who went on to win the 14-15 age group and tied Smith for third overall with a 222 total. Murphy won his division by seven strokes.
After carding six birdies in his opening round 70, Ingram was 1-under after 14 holes in the second round before playing his last four holes in 4-over to drop into a tie for the lead at 145 with Murphy and Canton’s Steve Kibare. Mao was one shot back at 146.
Ingram took an early lead in the final round with birdies at holes 4 and 6, but dropped into a tie for the lead with Mao following a double bogey on the difficult par-4 eighth and a bogey on the par-5 ninth. Both players birdied the par-4 11th before Mao inched in front with a birdie on the par-5 14th.
A birdie on the short, par-4 16th by Ingram again pulled him even with Mao, who bogeyed the 17th while Ingram birdied the tough par-4 for a 2-shot swing. Mao also bogeyed the 17th in the opening round, when he played his last four holes in 4-over for a 75 after consecutive birdies at holes 9. 10 and 11 had him 1-under for the day at that point.
Mao got back into contention with a 71 the second day, and followed with another 71 to finish second outright.
Murphy dropped off the pace when he played his first seven holes of the final round in 5-over including a double bogey on the par-5 fifth, a hole patterned after the 13th at Augusta National. Murphy shot 77 in the final round and wound up tied with Smith, who posted scores of 70-78-74.
Kibare finished fifth at 223 with scores of 72-73-78. Tying for sixth at 225 were Jack Shade of Marietta and Takafumi Shimoji of Suwanee, who shot a first round 65 in the Yamaha Atlanta Open the previous week to lead the tournament at that point.
Im, one of the youngest competitors playing in the 15-to-18 age group, dominated the girls division from the opening day, posting the lowest score in rounds one and three and matching the low score the second day. She led by four shots after an opening 69, expanded her lead to seven with a 73 the next day, and wound up winning by 13 after a final round 71.
For the tournament, Im collected 16 birdies, beginning with five in her first round score of 69. She got off to a rocky start the next day, playing her first six holes in 5-over, but was 4-under the rest of the way to pad her lead. She closed out the tournament with seven birdies on the day, among them two of the most difficult par 4s on the course (8 and 17), three of the four par 3s including the 15th, designed to approximate the 12th at Augusta National, as well as the other Augusta National influenced hole – the par-5 fifth.
Dubnik was outright second at 226, with Thienna Huynh of Lilburn, Kennedy Shen of Johns Creek and Kady Foshaug of Roswell tying for third at 227. Haven Ward of Atlanta shot 248 to win the girls 11-14 division by three strokes. Taiki Miyagi of Johns Creek won the boys 11-13 division by five shots with a 36-hole score of 149.
GSGA JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP: In a closely contested battle at Augusta CC, Woodstock’s Brock Hoover shot 11-under 205 to edge out Jack Boltja of Thomasville.
Hoover and Boltja entered the final round tied for the lead at 136 with Bruce Murphy of Johns Creek, who was also tied for the lead going to the last round of the Georgia PGA Junior Championship. All three shot back-to-back scores of 68 the first two days.
With three birdies on his first five holes the final day, Hoover took an early lead and played even par golf the rest of the way for a 69 and a 2-stroke victory. Boltja closed with a 71 and was second at 207, followed by Macon’s Jay Spivey, who placed third at 208 with scores of 69-69-70. Murphy shot a final round 73 and was fourth at 209.
Beck Burnette of Blairsville shot 68 for the low score of the third round and finished fifth at 210. Luke Phillips of Peachtree City had the low score of the tournament – a second round 66 – and tied for third at 212 with Preston Topper of Duluth, Myles Jones of Suwanee and Shaun Cook of Peachtree Corners.
GSGA GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP: After winning the Georgia PGA Girls Championship, Im made an effort to also win the GSGA event, but finished a distant second, nine shots behind Ainsley Cowart of Winston.
Cowart shot 9-under 207 at the Harbor Club, jumping out to a 3-shot lead over Im with an opening score of 70, and increasing her lead to five after a 71 the next day. Cowart shot 69 in the final round to wind up nine in front of Im at the conclusion of the tournament.
Im was second at even par 216 with scores of 70-73-73. Ava Merrill of Johns Creek shot the low score of the final round – a 68 – to finish third at 217. Kimberly Shen of Johns Creek, who tied for third in the Georgia PGA Girls Championship, was fourth in the GSGA event at 218, with Georgia PGA runner-up Mikayla Dubnik of Gainesville taking fifth at Harbor Club with a 220 total.
USGA JUNIOR QUALIFIER: Four Georgians qualified at the UGA course in Athens for the U.S. Junior Championship, which will be played July 15-20 at Inverness in Toledo, Ohio.
Sharing medalist honors at 69 were Takafumi Shimoji of Suwanee, Deven Patel of Johns Creek and Andrew Hughes of Dawsonville. Mark Brown of Johns Creek got the fourth spot at nationals from the qualifier with a 70, winning a playoff over Buck Brumlow of Cartersville. Preston Topper of Duluth shot 71 and won a playoff for second alternate.
Three of the state’s top juniors shot 72 and did not qualify. Nicolas Cassidy and Andy Mao of Johns Creek and Carter Pendley of Dalton shot 72 in what will likely be their final events as juniors. Cassidy graduated early from Johns Creek High School and was on the roster of the Georgia golf team in spring but did not play. Mao will play for Georgia Tech beginning this fall and Pendley will be on the golf team at Clemson.
Cassidy and Mao were teammates on the golf team at Johns Creek, which won three straight state championships from 2016-18 and captured a fourth straight title in 6A this year without Cassidy. Patel, Murphy and Topper were also on this year’s team along with Mao, with the Gladiators shooting 20-under par for 36 holes at Woodmont to finish 26 shots ahead of the runner-up team and 47 in front of the team that finished third.
Qualifying out of state was Carrollton’s Tyler Lipscomb, who shared medalist honors in Birmingham with a 70, and Marietta’s Connery Meyer, who shot 71 in Rocky Mount, N.C., and got the third and final spot in a playoff.
USGA GIRLS QUALIFIER: Two Georgia golfers were among five qualifiers at Cartersville CC for the U.S. Girls Championship, which will be played July 22-27 in Wisconsin.
Coming off her win in the GSGA Girls Championship, Ainsley Cowart of Winston placed second in the USGA qualifier with a 70, and Iris Cao of Duluth was third at 71. The three other qualifiers and both alternates were from other states in the Southeast.