PALM BEACH GARDENS, F.L. — Spencer Soosman of Westlake Village, California, and Sierra Brooks of Sorrento, Florida, were crowned champions of the 37th Polo Golf Junior Classic after notching finals victories at PGA National Resort & Spa. Soosman defeated high school teammate Matthew Wolff of Agoura Hills, California, in 20 holes and Brooks topped Lauren Stephenson of Lexington, South Carolina, 4 & 3.
The Polo Golf Junior Classic, which has been conducted annually since 1978, marks the first tournament of the American Junior Golf Association’s 2015 season. Former champions include Stewart Cink (1989), Trevor Immelman (1995), Tiger Woods (1991), Paula Creamer (2002), Grace Park (1994, 1996) and Morgan Pressel (2004).
All matches were contested on the Champion Course Friday. The Boys Division played the track at 7,097 yards, par 71, and the Girls Division played at 6,377 yards, par 72.
Soosman, competing in his first match play tournament, went the distance at the Polo Golf Junior Classic, winning his final match of the event in 20 holes. The win marks the 2016 graduate’s third of the year and puts his name into the AJGA’s boys record book for most individual wins in a season. Soosman joins Cory Whitsett, Cameron Peck and David Duval, among others, at T3 for the most individual wins in one season. At No. 21 in the Polo Golf Rankings, Soosman defeated the Nos. 1, 4 and 10 players in the Polo Golf Rankings, en route to his first AJGA Invitational title.
“It means a lot to get this win,” Soosman said. “This week was my first time ever playing match play in competition and it’s a lot of golf. This just feels amazing. Since this is my third win, my name goes into the record books and it’s just unreal to think that forever, my name will always be there and with this tournament.
“Matt is so talented and his time is going to come. Whatever happens, we’re still going to be best friends. I got to play in the finals match with my best friend, who else ever gets to say that?
After Wolff posted a 3-Up lead through five holes, Soosman started slowly chipping away with wins on Nos. 8 and 9. Wolff remained 1-up until Soosman squared the match with a two foot birdie putt on the 179-yard par-3 No. 15. The all-square match would be short lived with Wolff taking the 17th, forcing Soosman to win the next hole to continue the match. On No. 18, after finding the fairway with his drive and greenside bunker with his approach, Soosman drained his three-foot birdie putt to win the hole and extend the match. The contest would end on the second extra hole with Soosman making par to secure the victory.
“I felt like I started the round very calm,” Soosman said. “Matt and I were just going along and then after a bunch of holes Matt was all of a sudden 3-Up and I just thought ‘alright Spencer, it’s time to do something.’ Usually when we play back home we’re both four or five under, having fun, but today, it was like we were just having to beat each other on poor shots so that made the day very stressful.”
Brooks earned her fourth career victory with a 4 & 3 win over Stephenson. Playing in her fourth Polo Golf Junior Classic, Brooks made her first trip to the finals. Her previous top finish at the event was in 2013, where she advanced to the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Linnea Ström of Sweden. At No. 17 in the Polo Golf Rankings, Brooks defeated the Nos. 3 and 5 girls in the Polo Golf Rankings en route to her AJGA Invitational win.
“This means so much to me,” Brooks said. “This is my fourth year playing in this tournament and this is my first major Invitational win. Words cannot really describe how honored I am to come out here and play against the best girls. I am just so humbled that I was able to win this week.”
The future Florida Gator took the lead on the first hole with a birdie before Stephenson, a future Clemson Tiger, squared the match on the second hole. On the par-5 No. 3, Brooks tallied her second birdie of the round, taking the lead she would never relinquish after finding the green in two. She would maintain her lead through the remainder of the round and close out the match on No. 15 with a birdie.
“I knew it was going to be a really tough match out there against Lauren,” Brooks said. “She is a really great player. We’re really good friends and we were East Team teammates at Wyndham Cup this year. She’s a great competitor and we had a lot of fun out there.”