STILLWATER, Okla. – During a rain-soaked final round at Karsten Creek, Brad Dalke of Hobart, Okla., carded an even-par 72 to win The PING Invitational, finishing the tournament as the only player under par at 1-under-par 215. With a 54-hole total of 2-over-par 218, Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass., turned in rounds of 76-70-72 to win the Girls Division by three strokes.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, The PING Invitational was a 54-hole stroke play competition played on the par-72 course at Karsten Creek. The event featured 45 boys and 27 girls, ages 12-18, from 23 states, Canada, China, France, Mexico, Thailand, Zimbabwe and Venezuela. The Boys Division played the course at 7,388 yards while the Girls Division played the course at 6,291 yards.
After beginning the day with a one-stroke lead, Dalke maintained sole possession until China’s Andy Zhang of Reunion, Fla., grabbed a share of the lead after No. 12. Dalke reclaimed the top spot on No. 13 after Zhang made bogey. The duo posted identical scores on Nos. 14 through 17, and Dalke solidified the win with a birdie on No. 18.
“I love these situations, having to make the last putt,” said Dalke, who has verbally committed to Oklahoma. “To win in my home state, even if it is in Cowboy country, means a lot. I was able to have all my family come out here so that was fun.”
This victory marks Dalke’s third AJGA win, all coming at AJGA Invitationals. In February, he won the HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods, and his previous title at the 2011 Thunderbird International Junior sits in the AJGA Boys Record Book as the youngest player to win an AJGA Invitational (13 years, 9 months, 11 days).
“Last year I didn’t get in any wins so it means a lot to come out this year and win,” Dalke said. “I’m so excited to win. It boosts my confidence a lot and I can’t wait for the [Polo Golf Junior Classic].”
Closing with a birdie, Zhang finished in second at even-par 216. Justin Kim of Fullerton, Calif., and Matthew Perrine of Austin, Texas, tied for third at 6-over-par 222, while Dylan Meyer of Evansville, Ind., finished alone in fifth at 8-over-par 224.
Khang positioned herself near the top of the girls leaderboard after firing a second-round 2-under-par 70, the lowest girls’ round of the tournament. Only one stroke off the pace, Khang made the turn at 4-over-par for the tournament, as the girls leaderboard continued to change.
She caught momentum on the back nine, with birdies on Nos. 12, 14 and 15. Playing in the penultimate group, Khang held a three-stroke lead heading to No. 18, and birdied the 482-yard, par-5 final hole to finish as clubhouse leader.
“I didn’t really know what was going on behind me,” Khang said. “I just knew I had to play my own game and finish well. I just had to take one shot at a time like Hunter [Mahan] said.”
With a T3 finish at the Junior PGA Championship and a semifinal appearance at the U.S. Girls’ Junior, both in 2013, Khang claimed her first AJGA title in just her fourth AJGA start.
“This win is definitely big,” Khang said. “This golf course is stupendous and I just really like playing AJGA events, especially a big one like this. It means a lot to win here.”
Rounding out the Girls Division was Lilia Vu of Fountain Valley, Calif., and Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach, Calif., who tied for second at 5-over-par 221.